Along the way, there were outstanding moments, such as the Florida State, Texas and Kansas State victories. But there were those three uniquely humbling defeats that made the high notes fall flat.
Devastating injuries enveloped the team. So did questions of attitudes and leadership.
As Stoops said Thursday, it was a combination of those things that led to the losses — and subsequently to the team's arrival in a December bowl.
The hindsight view from the Insight Bowl is familiar turf for Iowa. The Hawkeyes were a preseason top-10 team in 2010, a national contender, but they went 7-5 and played Missouri in last year's Insight Bowl. (They did win that game as a fairly big underdog.)
“You just can't predict (the results of a season),” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Thursday. “Everybody wants to, and you try to, and you have the evidence. It really gets down to all the twists and turns that take place in the 12-game schedule, or 11-game schedule in those years.
“So many things happen. Disappointing things happen. That's what makes sports, I think, so much fun to follow.”
Sooners fans likely have different adjectives for the season than fun. But there is one more game to play, and it could potentially alter the perception of this season — either positively or negatively.
“You don't want to lose another game,” Ikard said. “You want to go into the offseason with a good taste in your mouth. You want the mood to be a little more positive. Adding more negativity won't help anything.”
After all, bowl games are as much about the following season as the one being completed.
“Hopefully next year,” Jefferson said, “we can do something different.”