Insight Bowl Preview
Dec. 21, 2010
Iowa (7-5, 4-4) is bowl-eligible for the 10th consecutive year and will take part in its ninth postseason game in that time span with the program's first trip to the Insight Bowl. The Hawkeyes will challenge Missouri (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) of the Big 12 on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 10 p.m. ET in Tempe, Ariz. The program has produced a bowl record of 13-10-1 and has won its last two postseason outings, defeating Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl and knocking off South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has won five bowl games with the Hawkeyes, tied for the fifth-most in Big Ten history. Big Ten teams are 2-4 in the Insight Bowl, including victories by Indiana (1991) and Wisconsin (1996) when the game was known as the Copper Bowl.
The game will mark Missouri’s school-record sixth-consecutive bowl game and seventh bowl appearance in the last eight seasons overall under head coach Gary Pinkel, after Mizzou had gone to only two bowl games in a span of 19 seasons dating from 1984-2002. The 2010 Insight Bowl appearance will be Mizzou's 28th bowl game overall, with MU holding a 12-15 mark in its previous 27 outings. It is also the Tigers’ second appearance at the Insight Bowl as Mizzou claimed a 34-31 victory in 1998 over West Virginia when the bowl was called the Insight.com Bowl, and was played in nearby Tucson, Ariz.
Looking at the overall series between the two teams, Missouri and Iowa are meeting for the first time in over 100 years. The Tigers hold a 7-5 advantage in the series that began with a 22-0 Missouri win in 1892. The teams have not met since the Tigers scored a 5-0 win in 1910. Iowa's last win in the series was a 21-6 win at Iowa City in 1907 before Missouri won the three most recent meetings.
On the year, Iowa ranked fifth in the Big Ten in passing (237.4), sixth in scoring (29.1), eighth in total yards (379.4), and ninth in rushing (142.0). The Hawkeyes boast an efficient offense led by quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who is among Iowa's career leaders in several categories, including third in passing touchdowns (56), passing yards (7,177) and total offense (7,164), and fourth in completions (531) and attempts (886). Stanzi owns a school record with a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games and enters the bowl game with a program-best efficiency rating of 160.5. He ranked third in the Big Ten in passing this year with 232.4 yards per game and was remarkably consistent with his attempts. He completed 64.8 percent of his passes and threw a conference-low four interceptions in 12 games. The Hawkeyes have been disciplined on the field, posting just nine turnovers (three lost fumbles, four interceptions) on the season, which ties Wisconsin as the fewest in the nation. They are also seventh in fewest penalty yards per game (38.9) and tied for 21st in fewest penalties per game (5.1). Iowa will need that discipline on offense as it will be without two of its standouts in running back Adam Robinson and first-team All-Big Ten wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, both of whom will miss the bowl game for team violations. Robinson had led Iowa's rushing attack in each of the past two seasons with 1,775 career yards, while Johnson-Koulianos was also a threat in the return game, averaging a conference-best 29.3 yard per kick return. Second-team All-Conference honoree Marvin McNutt should be Stanzi’s primary target, having ranked sixth in the league in receiving yards (66.5) and seventh in receptions (4.25) per game this year. Senior tight end Allen Reisner was also a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season.
Missouri boasts one of the top scoring defenses in the country, ranking sixth overall with 15.2 points allowed each time out. The Tigers are under the guidance of second-year defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, who has improved his squad nearly 10 points better than its scoring average from a year ago. Mizzou ranked third in the Big 12 in defending the pass (203.8) and total yards (350.7), and sixth against the run (146.9). The Tigers are coming off a regular-season finale that saw rival Kansas held to just 141 yards of total offense – the best defensive outing for Missouri in 30 years. Mizzou, which also registered two shutouts this season for the first time since 1983, made its mark this season in the red zone. Coming into the bowl game, the Tigers’ defense is ranked first nationally in red zone defense, as opponents have scored just 55 percent of the time they have gotten inside the Mizzou 20. Leading the way is senior linebacker Andrew Gachkar, a first-team All-Big 12 selection with a team-best 81 tackles. Gachkar also paced the team in interceptions (2), forced fumbles (2), recovered fumbles (2) and blocked kicks (2), while adding 8.5 tackles for loss on the year. Sophomore DE Brad Madison was fifth in the Big 12 this season with 7.5 sacks and eighth with 11.0 tackles for loss, earning him second-team All-Conference accolades. Maidson anchors the line that ranks sixth in the country with 3.1 sacks per game. CB Kevin Rutland, DE Aldon Smith and DE Jacquies Smith received honorable-mention all-league acclaim.
On the offensive side of the ball, Missouri was sixth in the Big 12 in rushing (162.9) and passing (238.2), seventh in total yards (401.1) and eighth in scoring (30.3). Quarterback Blaine Gabbert ranked fifth in the conference this season with 229.3 passing yards per game, flanked by two of the league’s top receivers in Michael Egnew (6.92 receptions/game, 3rd) and T.J. Moe (6.42, 5th). Egnew is a first-team All-American who leads all of the nation’s tight ends with 83 receptions, while his 698 receiving yards are second-most at that position. Gabbert has connected with Moe 77 times this year for 893 yards and 6 TDs. A veteran line made up of a combined 141 starts has helped the Mizzou rushing attack as of late and is anchored by first-team All-Big 12 center Tim Barnes. The Tigers are averaging 194.0 yards on the ground over the last six outings compared to just 131.0 yards in their first six games. It’s been a tailback by committee approach, with the bulk of the carries being split by junior De’Vion Moore (93 carries, 485 yards, 8 TDs, 5.2 avg.), true freshman Henry Josey (74-425, 4 TDs, 5.7 avg.), sophomore Kendial Lawrence (67-382, 4 TDs, 5.7 avg.), and true freshman Marcus Murphy (22-181, 2 TDs, 8.2 avg.).
Defensively, Iowa ranks sixth nationally in rushing (103.5), seventh in scoring (16.4), 15th in total yards allowed (317.1) and 18th in pass efficiency defense (112.46). Six Iowa opponents have scored one touchdown or less, including two who scored no touchdowns. For the second straight season, eight of Iowa's 12 regular season opponents scored 17 points or less. The Hawkeyes are tied for seventh in the nation in turnover margin (+1.1) and tied for 11th with 17 pass interceptions. Senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn and junior defensive backs Tyler Sash and Shaun Prater were tabbed first-team All-Big Ten selections this year, followed by second-team honorees senior defensive tackle Karl Klug, senior linebacker Jeremiha Hunter and senior defensive back Brett Greenwood. Sash ranks fifth in school history with 13 career picks to go along with 211 tackles, while Greenwood has 11 INTs and 218 stops for his career. Hunter is the Hawkeyes’ leading tackler with 264 hits over his career, which helped him boast a tackles-per-game average of 7.7 this season, rating seventh-best in the league.