Will Sooner fans get excited about the Insight Bowl?

OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL — OU fans have become accustomed to bowl games in the Phoenix area, but the Insight Bowl is a little different, especially with rival Oklahoma State playing in the neighboring bowl.
BY TRAVIS HANEY Staff Writer thaney@opubco.com Published: December 10, 2011
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— This desert life.

It's become the norm this time of year for Oklahoma fans, the commute to Arizona for a Sooners bowl game. Including this season, OU will have played in the Phoenix area four times since 2006.

Here's the difference: The Sooners, with a 9-3 record, aren't in the Fiesta Bowl. They're playing 7-5 Iowa in the Dec. 30 Insight Bowl.

And here's the additional rub: Rival Oklahoma State is in the Fiesta, playing Stanford. It's the Cowboys' first BCS appearance.

Even if the games are taking place days apart on opposite sides of the sprawling metro area — the Fiesta in Glendale, the Insight in Tempe — one OU fan said Friday he “couldn't stomach being in town with the Oklahoma State fans.”

“For that reason, mostly, I'm not going to go,” Sooners fan Chad Edwards said via email. “I really enjoyed this season, just wish it would have finished off better.”

It's the reverse of the 2007 season, when OU played West Virginia in the Fiesta and OSU played Indiana in the Insight.

OU estimated Saturday that 6,000 of its 11,000 allotted Insight Bowl tickets have been sold. That's not an alarming number, the school said, considering many fans use other sites and methods to purchase tickets.

But are they — and should they be — excited about this game?

A group from OU traveled to Phoenix this past week to meet with bowl officials (the two games are owned by the same group). Kenny Mossman, an associate athletic director, said he returned with more enthusiasm about the game, sensing the Insight's excitement to have two names with historical clout.

Mossman said he's hopeful a couple of things will ultimately appeal to Sooners fans. For one, it's a rare matchup against a Big Ten school — and Bob Stoops' alma mater, at that.

Secondly, it's a more economically affordable game to attend. With Insight tickets ranging between $67-90, a fan could buy two or three tickets for what one Fiesta Bowl ticket cost a year ago.

“It's certainly going to be possible to go out there this year for far less money than last year,” Mossman said. “The pricing is more in line with what a regular season game is like.”

Mossman pointed out, too, that fans could chart a different itinerary for themselves than a year ago — because the Insight game is based on the east side of the city, in the Tempe and Scottsdale areas, as opposed to the western suburbs.

There's a hope, Mossman said, that OU fans and alums from Southern California — a relatively short drive away from Phoenix —  will attend the game.

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