The need to know
What: Insight Bowl - Iowa vs. Missouri
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
When: 9:00 PM
Keys to the game: (A lot of obvious ones today)
The Fourth Quarter - Iowa has really struggled in the 4th quarter this year and has given up a late TD in all 5 of its losses. As with most Hawkeye games, this one figures to be close and low scoring. Both teams have very good defenses and aren't giving up very many points this year. So, if/when this game comes down to the wire, Iowa needs to put the 4th quarter woes behind them and somebody needs to step up and make a timely play.
The First Quarter - The last time Iowa played in Arizona the game started out about as horrible as it could. Iowa's first quarter consisted of a blocked punt and a pick six back-to-back and Iowa was down 14-0 before ESPN had switched over to the game. There are plenty of reasons that Iowa may come out flat tonight (i.e. the off-field distractions), so they need to overcome those things. Just in case the 4th quarter doesn't go so well, it would be much better if the Hawkeyes can build a substantial lead early.
Running the Ball - Iowa is down to Marcus Coker and...well not really anyone else. Paki O'Meara will probably get a carry or two, but he has missed a lot of time with concussions this year. After that it's walk-on Jason White who career in his has played a little bit on special teams, a little bit on defense, and has just one carry. So Coker will be carrying the load. Missouri's one weakness this year has been its rush defense. They have allowed a couple of backs to have huge games...Nebraska's running back had over 300 yards. So Iowa needs to take advantage of it, especially with Missouri's aggressive pass rush. If Iowa can run the ball effectively and keep away from 3rd-and-long it shoul.d help slow the Tiger's rush. It will also help set up play-action.
I think this game will be close. Both teams have very good defenses and more average offenses, so I don't see a shootout in this one. Gabbert will use his quick throws to move the ball down the field, but Iowa should be able to keep him and the Tiger offense out of the endzone most of the day. Bend but don't break...that kind of thing.
The same thing on the other side of the ball. I think Coker will have a big game and help set up Stanzi to hit a lot of 15-20 yard passes on play-action. However, Missouri has the number 1 red-zone defense in the country (allowing scores on just 55% of RZ trips), so Iowa will likely have to settle for a field goal or two.
So, I think this game boils down to field goal kicking. Missouri has Grant Ressel, a Lou Grouza semi-finalist, who has only missed 3 FGs in his career. He hit 13 in a row at one point this season and has made 16 of 18. The Tigers have also had a knack for blocking field goals this year, with 5 blocks. Iowa has had some trouble with blocked kicks so will need to be careful. Mike Meyer has for the most part been good this year, but is still a true freshman and has made a few mistakes. I think this could be Missouri's biggest advantage and the difference in the game. So for the first time all year, I'm picking against the Hawkeyes (sorry!)...I hope I am wrong.
Final Score - Iowa 20 - Missouri 23