SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Iowa Hawkeyes figure they see the spectrum of offenses in the Big Ten.
“You can play a team like Wisconsin, that pounds the ball,” said cornerback Shaun Prater. “The next week, they're spread five wide like Northwestern.”
But Iowa's Insight Bowl assignment is different. Friday night at Sun Devil Stadium, the Hawkeyes play a team that spreads it out, then pounds it in.
OU and quarterback Landry Jones fling the ball around all over the field. But when the Sooners get near the goal line, or in short-yardage situations, here comes 245-pound quarterback Blake Bell, two fullbacks and a smashmouth mentality.
Bell has scored 10 touchdowns in the five games since the Belldozer's debut.
Even though the Sooners change their offensive identity with substitution, the Hawkeyes say they don't have to change their mentality.
“Defense is defense regardless of what offense comes on the field,” said tackle Mike Daniels.
Longtime Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker knows it's not that simple. Parker raves about Jones but says Bell's entrance changes things. “Then they put those two fullbacks, ends up in real power football at its utmost,” Parker said. “Overpower you in there.”
At least most opponents. The Sooners don't try fool opponents with Bell in the game. He has thrown but two passes, neither complete, out of the Belldozer.
“The majority of time, he's going to run the ball,” said cornerback Micah Hyde. “But there's no rule that he can't pass it.”
OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel doesn't talk like a coach who has soured on Bell's passing.
“He can still throw,” Heupel said. “He's going to have a strong arm. He'll make all the throws. He's getting better in the decision-making.”
One of the bonuses of the Belldozer is the extra preparation it demands of defenses.
“As far as preparation, knowing what to expect, when they get down there, they're going to turn into a power offense,” said Iowa safety Jordan Bernstine.
The answer, he said, is clear: “Gang-tackle. It's a case of tackling. Getting everybody there.”