Dec. 30
10 p.m.
ESPN                             Iowa vs Oklahoma

Offense: Oklahoma brings into Phoenix the 4th ranked passing attack in the country, but one that scored only 10 points against Oklahoma State in the final game of the regular season. QB Landry Jones has managed to pass for 4302 yards despite numerous injuries for the Sooners. WR Ryan Broyles, the all time NCAA leader in receptions, was lost for the season during the Texas A&M game. 3rd leading receiver Jaz Reynolds is also out, which will make the play of WR Kenny Stills even more important. RB Roy Finch will get most of the carries for the Sooners, who need a typical great offensive performance. Iowa , though not as prolific as the Sooner passing game, has the leading passing attack in the Big 10, led by QB James Vandenberg. He has thrown for 2806 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Hawkeyes. His top weapon is receiver Marvin McNutt. The sensational senior has caught 78 passes for 1269 yards and 12 touchdowns. RB Marcus Coker anchors the rushing game, as he has scored 15 times on the ground to go with his 1384 rushing yards. Iowa has been bad against very good defenses, but Oklahoma does not have a great defense this year.

Defense: Oklahoma gives up just 22.8 points a game, but has really struggled against good offenses, such as Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Sooners have been one of the top teaps in the pass rush, but that has been limited since the loss of Ronnell Lewis. The defense is talented, led by LB Travis Lewis, who has a chance to leave OU as the only player to lead the Sooners in tackles all four years. The secondary has been a weakness as Oklahoma has given up numerous big plays through the air. The Baylor game is a very good example of that. Iowa will look to contain the potent passing attack of the Sooners. The Hawkeyes give up 23.3 points a game, and has improved later in the year. They will need to force turnovers to effective, and they need to get pressure on Landry Jones. That has been particularly tough this year because of all the talent lost to the NFL. Iowa will need to put in a season's best effort to win this game.



The pick: I think Oklahoma wins a close one. I was really thinking about Iowa, but I think OU will rebound from its loss to Ok State and win this one. If you agree or disagree let me know why by tweeting me @bowlseason or emailing me at . I'll post them if you send them.





Mike Hlas, of The Cedar Rapids Gazette, answered some questions for us about Iowa.


BS: It has been  a very up and down season for the 7-5 Hawkeyes. How would you rate this season overall for Iowa.

Mike Hlas: Nondescript. The season never really got much momentum. A win, a loss, a win, a loss, a win. Iowa had nice bounce-backs after losses, but never went on a big run.

BS: The offense has been average, but it does have the Big 10's leading passer in James Vandenberg. Talk about his play and who are his top weapons on this offense?

Mike Hlas: Vandenberg has been good, very good at times. His TD-interception rate was excellent, and he threw many a beautiful pass. But against the two best defenses he faced, Penn State and Michigan State, he was contained. And his poorest game was probably Iowa's last one, at Nebraska.

BS: The defense has been pretty solid overall. What do they need to do to slow down Oklahoma's high powered offense and who are the key players?

Mike Hlas: It's been a below-average year for the defense, primarily because it had to replace so much on the defensive line. Three DL players from last year's team are now in the NFL, and all are playing. It's been a defense that has been gouged for a lot of rushing yards. There has been progress, but it was incremental. I think Iowa has to play its best defensive game of the year to win. That will mean forcing two or more turnovers. It will give up yards. If it doesn't get some turnovers, I don't see how it wins. If it does, this game could be very interesting.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Mike Hlas: Receiver Keenan Davis. He's the No. 2 receiver behind Marvin McNutt, who had a tremendous season. Davis has been hurting the last few weeks of the regular season and less effective because of it, but if gives Iowa a second major receiving weapon in the bowl game, Iowa's chances of pulling an upset increase significantly.


Thanks a lot to Mike Hlas. Check his work out at and follow @Hlas .



Mike Baldwin, of The Oklahoman, answered some questions for us.


BS: The Sooners were ranked #1 in the country to start the season, but finished a dissapointing 9-3 emphasized with a 44-10 loss to in-state rival Oklahoma State. What was the reason for the dissapointing season and how would rate this season overall?

Mike Baldwin: Injuries definitely played a role. You can't lose the leading rusher (Dominique Whaley) and the all-time Division I leader in receptions (Ryan Broyles) and not feel the effects.

Defensively, cornerback Jamell Fleming missed the Texas Tech game, All-Big 12 caliber defensive end Ronnell Lewis (sprained knee) missed the second half of the Baylor game and didn't play against Oklahoma State.

Senior defensive end Frank Alexander, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, was ineffective against OSU because of a shoulder injury he suffered the previous week against Iowa State.

But it wasn't all injuries. The defense gave up the most yards in the Bob Stoops era in losses to Baylor and Texas Tech. Dominant in a lot of wins, the defense was too inconsistent.

The offense, though, was the biggest problem in the lopsided loss to OSU. Five turnovers, including four by QB Landry Jones (two interceptions, two fumbles), prevented the Sooners from making it a competitive game. Many projected it would be a shootout but OU's offense only shot itself in the foot.

The Sooners have talent as they displayed in wins over Kansas State, Florida State, Texas A&M and Texas but failed to play with emotion in every game.

BS: The offense, led by Landry Jones, has been terrific all year. Talk about the QB's play and who are his top weapons that remain healthy?

Mike Baldwin: Jones owns most of the school passing records, passing Sam Bradford but had the poor outing against OSU and can get rattled when under pressure. Still, Jones is projected to be a first-round draft pick, consistently compiling 350- and 400-yard passing games.

The Sooners will play Iowa without two of their top three receivers. In addition to Broyles, Jaz Reynolds suffered a bruised kidney against OSU and spent a week in the hospital. That forces Kenny Stills to play big. Freshman Kameel Jackson will play a lot, especially since senior Dejuan Miller has been plagued by dropped passes. OU also will play without freshman RB Brandon Williams, who played well late in the season. Williams suffered a neck injury against Oklahoma State.

BS: The defense has been very poor against the pass. What do they need to do to be successful and who are the key players?

Mike Baldwin: Playing without Ronnell Lewis has hampered the pass rush, a key factor since the Sooners are among the top teams in the country in sacks. Safety Aaron Colvin and cornerbacks Jamell Fleming and Demontre Hurst. Linebacker Travis Lewis has a chance to become the first player in OU history to lead the Sooners in tackles all four seasons. Sophomore Tony Jefferson, who was moved from rover backer to free safety against OSU, is a quality player who can dish out some punishing tackles.

BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Mike Baldwin: Roy Finch. The sophomore running back has slippery moves and good speed. Finch passed Dominique Whaley to become the Sooners' leading rusher. Finch is due to break a long run and rush for 100-plus yards. He's also a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield.


Thanks a lot to Mike Baldwin. Check his work out at and follow @mikebaldwin1022


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