Updated Score: Oklahoma 0, Iowa 0
If the Insight Bowl had a theme this year, it would be redemption.
While it’s not the most glamourous bowl in the world, it is still an accomplishment to make. However, for the two teams pitted against each other, the Oklahoma Sooners and the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Insight Bowl has to feel like anything but an accomplishment.
After starting the season out with the No. 1 ranking, the Sooners were have to be disappointed with a fourth place finish in the Big 12. Behind uncharacteristic play from their defense, the Sooners dropped games to Texas Tech, Baylor and conference champion Oklahoma State.
The Texas Tech loss proved to be one of, if not the worst loss in the Bob Stoops era (1999-present) of the program. It was only the third home loss for the Sooners in the last 12 years.
To make matters worse for the Sooners, the injury bug has cost them many key players. Out for the Insight Bowl is starting running back Dominique Whaley, starting wide receivers Ryan Broyles and Jaz Reynolds, fullback Aaron Ripkowski and lineman Adam Shead.
The Hawkeyes aren’t strangers to misfortunes this season, either. I’m sure their 7-5 record isn’t exactly what they had planned. Only two years ago, the Hawkeyes were 11-2 and winning a BCS Bowl, but back-to-back 7-5 regular seasons have kept the Hawkeyes out of the spotlight.
One consistent aspect of the Hawkeyes program this year has been sophomore running back Marcus Coker. Coker has nearly 1,400 rushing yards on the season to go along with 15 rushing touchdowns. He’s also been a weapon outside of the backfield, catching 21 passes on the year.
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, Coker will be sitting out of this game for breaking an unspecified rule. That puts most of the pressure on Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg, who has also had a great season contrary to what his team’s record may show.
Iowa hasn’t faced an offense quite like Oklahoma’s, but to be fair, Oklahoma’s offense is rather depleted. Quarterback Landry Jones hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three games since Broyles went down with his season-ending injury.
This should be a better-than-expected game, with two depleted teams leaving it all on the field. After both teams had disappointing seasons, it will be exciting to see which team shows up with more guts, more heart and more will to win.
This is the Insight Bowl—a time for redemption.