TEMPE, Ariz. — Blake Bell ran for three touchdowns to help No. 19 Oklahoma survive a late rally and a crashing camera to beat Iowa 31-14 in the Insight Bowl Friday night.
Oklahoma (10-3) didn't get a particularly great game from quarterback Landry Jones and wasn't effective on the ground, either. Once considered national-title contenders, the Sooners grinded it out against the gritty Hawkeyes, ending a difficult year that included the death of linebacker Austin Box in the offseason.
Jones threw for 161 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Bell put the game away with a 21-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left.
Iowa (7-6) fell into a 21-0 hole before rallying behind two touchdown passes from James Vandenberg. The Hawkeyes came up just short and dodged a potential disaster when an overhead camera crashed to the field next to receiver Marvin McNutt in the closing minutes. McNutt became tangled in the wire, but wasn't hurt. The game was delayed 5 minutes while the camera was dragged off the field.
Vandenberg overcame an early interception to throw for 216 yards, but had two interceptions while the Hawkeyes rushed for just 76 yards to end a school-record three-game bowl winning streak.
Oklahoma's return trip to the desert wasn't expected, at least not this early in the bowl season.
Coming off a rout of Connecticut in last year's Fiesta Bowl, the Sooners were ranked No. 1 in the preseason, with hopes of a second national title under coach Bob Stoops.
Those aspirations were gone after a string of injuries — All-American receiver Ryan Broyles' torn ACL was the big one — and two losses in the final three games, including a 44-10 rout by Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game.
The frustrating run knocked Oklahoma out of not only the national championship chase, but out of a BCS bowl and into the Insight Bowl.
Instead of making a statement in the desert, the Sooners seemed to stand still in the first half, gaining yards in little bits instead of their usual chunks. Oklahoma had just 89 yards on 27 plays in the half, but led 14-0 thanks a pair of 4-yard runs by Bell — one set up by an interception and another on the Sooners' only sustained drive.
The Sooners finally started to click in the second half.