Oklahoma football: What you need to know about the Iowa Hawkeyes

IOWA PRIMER — Among the things that stand out when sizing up the Sooners' Dec. 30 Insight Bowl is the Iowa Hawkeyes lack of a tangible strength.
By TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: December 13, 2011

A relatively weak Big Ten certainly helped. Getting Michigan and Pitt at home did, as well. The Hawkeyes … they're average, frankly. They're ranked 70th in the country in total offense, 68th in total defense. Not horrendous, not great. In the Big Ten, that'll get you a 7-5 record and a halfway decent bowl game.

Iowa was the beneficiary, too, of the Penn State scandal, the scar of it bumping the Lions down to the Ticket City Bowl and putting the Hawkeyes in Tempe for the second straight year.

Why they lost five games

Iowa couldn't play all its games at Kinnick Stadium, for one. The Hawkeyes won six of seven home games, only dropping the finale to Michigan State. Doing the math, though, they only won one game away from home all season — the Nov. 19 game at Purdue.

Their biggest weakness is the lack of a strength. Iowa is not ranked higher than 27th in any major NCAA category. That category? Net punting.

Why they will beat the Sooners

Bowl games are often about motivation. It's rare that both teams have an equal amount entering the postseason. The Sooners didn't have their sights set in August on a 9-3 season and the Insight Bowl; that's for sure. Iowa is probably happy to be in any bowl game.

If OU isn't interested in the game, the Hawkeyes, even as big underdogs, could sneak up on the favorites. It's not as if the Sooners have played well as big favorites at times this season, after all.

And then there are the injuries, still piling up. OU, fans learned last weekend, will also be without Jaz Reynolds at receiver and Brandon Williams at running back. Who's left these days?

Iowa's played well in bowl games under Ferentz, as well. He's a discipline and toughness freak, and that plays well in bowls. They've won three straight.

Why they will lose to the Sooners

Even if the Hawkeyes are the more inspired team, and even if OU has been depleted by injuries, there's still a rather stark talent disparity.

Oklahoma could come out firing, angry from being doubted and questioned in the wake of the Bedlam blowout. It's possible. Vegas still thought enough of OU, and the talent gap, to make the Sooners two-touchdown favorites.