TEMPE, Ariz. — In reality, the Oklahoma offense turned into its best defense late in its Insight Bowl contest against Iowa.
A nine-play, 44-yard drive by the Sooners, which ate up 4:21 of game clock and ended with a 35-yard field goal by Michael Hunnicutt at the 2:28 mark, kept an OU defense that had given up two straight Iowa touchdowns off the field and preserved a 31-14 Sooner victory at Sun Devil Stadium.
But the Sooner defense had done enough through three quarters to give itself the room to allow two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“Our defense was outstanding,” OU coach Bob Stoops said immediately after the game.
OU shut out Iowa until the second play of the fourth quarter, when Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg scrambled to his right and found tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in the end zone for a 5-yard score.
Iowa scored again when Vandenberg dumped off a pass to Jordan Canzeri, who scampered into the end zone from 9 yards with 6:56 to play. But the Hawkeyes never threatened again.
The Sooners (10-3) held the Hawkeyes to 292 offensive yards and forced two turnovers, one which set up OU's first touchdown.
On Iowa's second drive of the game, Jamell Fleming picked off Vandenberg and returned it 21 yards. An Iowa personal foul gave OU a first-and-goal at the 5, and two plays later, backup quarterback Blake Bell scored his first of three rushing touchdowns from 4 yards.
Fleming finished with seven tackles and three pass breakups to earn the game's Defensive MVP award.
Then, after Iowa drove deep into OU territory on its next possession, the Sooners stuffed running back Canzeri for a loss of 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from the OU 6.
Iowa punted on four of its next five drives — the other, the first-half clock ran out — before the Hawkeyes put together their 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that overlapped the third and fourth quarters to cut the Sooners' lead to 21-7.
The defense also answered whenever Iowa seemed to gain a sliver of momentum.
After an athletic tip and interception by Iowa defensive lineman Broderick Binns halted at OU scoring chance inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter, the Sooners forced a three-and-out on the Hawkeyes' ensuing drive.
And after the Hawkeyes scored their first touchdown and forced an OU punt, the Sooners answered with another three-and-out. On third down, Vandenberg scrambled to his left, and R.J. Washington pushed him to the turf for the sack.
The Sooners held star receiver Marvin McNutt to just four catches and 46 yards. He came into the game averaging over 105 yards per game.
“He's an NFL-caliber receiver,” Fleming said. “And I want to play at the next level.”