2010 Insight Bowl - Iowa vs. Missouri
Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert & Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert & Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi
Posted Dec 28, 2010

With a little bit of scandal, a lot of expectations, and plenty of questions for both sides, the Iowa - Missouri showdown should be among the most important of the pre-New Year's Day bowl games. Can the Hawkeyes make up for a disappointing year? Can Mizzou show it's for real? Check out CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Insight Bowl.

2010 Insight Bowl

(7-5) vs. Missouri (10-2)

Tuesday, December 28th 10:00 ESPN  

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Pick ATS: Missouri  Confidence Score: 101
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 27 out of 35
SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history

By Pete Fiutak

The Boise State vs. Utah Las Vegas Bowl might have matched up two teams with nice reputations, and the West Virginia vs. NC State Champs Sports Bowl might have been the first bowl game of the season against two BCS teams, but this is when the big-time battles start. This is when it starts to get serious.

It's Big 12 vs. Big Ten, or what's soon to be the Big Ten with 12 teams and the Big 12 with ten teams, and with each team trying to erase an ugly memory. Missouri needs to prove it can show up in a bowl game again after last year's ugly and lifeless performance in the Texas Bowl loss to Navy, while Iowa has to show it really was better than it looked throughout a disappointing and occasionally disastrous 2010.

Statistics In Yards
Iowa   MU
4,553 Total
3,805 Total
29.1 Scoring
16.4 Scoring
1,704 Rushing
1,242 Rushing
2,849 Passing
2,563 Passing
1.08 Turnover Margin 0.92
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
Iowa   MU
4.5 QBs 4.5
3 RBs 2
3.5 WRs 3
4 O Line 3.5
4 D Line 5
4 LBs 3.5
3 DBs 3.5
3 STs 4
4.5 Coach 4
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
And it has to show it can field a team good enough to put on a show.

As if the Hawkeyes didn't have enough problems this season, now they'll be without their top receiver, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, for a slew of issues related to drug issues, and top running back Adam Robinson got healthy again from a concussion just in time to get suspended for a violation of team rules, or more accurately, "team expectations."

But Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has done wonders with far less talent than he has coming into the bowl, and he has more than enough good veterans to make up for the loss of two top players. However, everyone has to start playing up to their skill level and reputation after struggling way too much in key games.

Iowa started the year hoping to be in Arizona come bowl time, but the expectations were set at BCS Championship level in Glendale and not the Insight in Tempe. The 2009 team went an impressive 11-2 with the two losses coming when starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi was hurt, and after finishing the year with an impressive and decisive Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech, and with most of the key players returning, the sky was the limit. Instead, the tremendous defensive line disappointed, the offense couldn't seem to find its groove, and instead of battling for a BCS slot the Hawkeyes fizzled with five losses and a three-game losing streak to close.

The schedule couldn't have been more kind with the three big league games, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin, all in Iowa City, and while Iowa thumped the Spartans and lost to the Buckeyes and Badgers by a combined total of four points, there were some head-scratchers like the late loss to Northwestern and the awful gaffe to a miserable Minnesota team.

On the plus side, Iowa's five losses were all by seven points or fewer, with the four Big Ten losses by a combined ten points, but there were still five losses for a team that should've been challenging for championships.

Missouri was supposed to be a factor in the Big 12 North, but this was expected to be Nebraska's season from the start. The Tigers got rolled over by Roy Helu, Jr. and the Husker ground game, and they appeared to be still hung over the week after in a dead-legged loss at Texas Tech, but that was it for the blemishes. It wasn't the most dominant of Big 12 teams, and the offense was hardly flashy compared to some of the recent Mizzou powerhouses, but it was a good, sound, effective team that came up with a key win over then-BCS No. 1 ranked Oklahoma and dominated Texas A&M in College Station. With wins over Illinois, MAC champion Miami, and Kansas State, the résumé isn't all that bad in the program's third ten-win season in four years.

35-13, 35-13, 35-13.

That was the score against Navy in last year's Texas Bowl loss, and it soured an otherwise sour season and hurt the program's reputation a bit. It's one thing to lose a bowl game, but it's another to get blown away by the Midshipmen when the defense is supposed to be strong against the run. However, with three bowl wins in the last five years, the Tigers have been solid under head coach Gary Pinkel and they can be red-hot going into 2011 with a win. What Iowa was last offseason as far as being a fringe national title candidate, that's what Missouri could become.

On the flip side, Iowa will be rebuilding a bit next year. With two straight bowl wins and four in the last six, Iowa has been good in the post-season and is good enough to break the through the ceiling in this bowl for the Big Ten and could show that the regular season problems were a bit of a fluke. In other words, there's a lot to play for.

Usually reserved for the Minnesotas and the mediocre Big 12 teams of the world, this year's Insight Bowl is a treat. The Big 12 has won all four times since it got a tie-in with the Gophers losing three of them and Indiana dropping the other, and with all the realignment talk and with Missouri ready to jump to the Big Ten for the asking, this game could be for a bit more than just a bowl; it could be for national perception. It's the rare December showcase bowl, and it should be interesting.

Players to Watch: Considering all the suspensions and all the drama, Iowa needs Ricky Stanzi to close out his career with a flash. Very, very quietly, considering the team's disappointing season, he has been terrific with 25 touchdown passes and a mere four interceptions. However, he was average down the stretch and completed just 10-of-22 passes in the loss to Minnesota. Strong in the last two bowl games, he threw two picks against South Carolina two years ago, but he completed 13-of-19 passes for 147 yards and a score while leading the way to a 31-10 blowout. In last year's Orange Bowl, he threw for 231 yards and two scores in the win over Georgia Tech. His decision making will have to be spotless, and he can't make big mistakes under the pressure from the Tiger defensive front.

Missouri's 6-5, 240-pound junior quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, will have a big decision to make in a few weeks. He has the size, he has the arm, and he has the temperament to be some NFL team's main man for the next decade, and he also has just enough mobility to get by. What he doesn't have is a monster 2010 statistical season you'd expect from a Mizzou quarterback. After stepping up with a great first year at the helm, throwing for 3,593 yards and 24 touchdowns with just nine interceptions, he hasn't been able to bomb away nearly as much with top target Danario Alexander now catching passes in St. Louis from Sam Bradford. He has been accurate, and he came up with great performances in two of the biggest games this year, throwing for 361 yards and three scores against Texas A&M and 308 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma, but he followed those two games up with disastrous outings in the losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech combining to complete just 30-of-62 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown with an interception. If he's not great in Tempe, Missouri can't win.

Trying to get to Gabbert and trying to make up for a mediocre year is Adrian Clayborn, an elite prospect who likely would've gone in the top five of last year's draft, but saw his stock slip a bit after coming up with just 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss. He'll still go in the first round and he's still a nearly ideal 3-4 end with good bulk and great quickness, but he disappeared too often and appeared to be frustrated by the constant double teaming. Dominant in last year's Orange Bowl with nine solo tackles and two sacks, he needs to make the same type of impression in his final game while being a consistent force in the backfield. The motor has to be non-stop.

Iowa will win if ... it can get to Gabbert. Missouri isn't going to beat the Hawkeyes with the deep ball, but it can dink and dunk its way up and down the field unless the Iowa D line plays like it was supposed to from Day One. Partly by design and partly because the line has been a dud, Iowa hasn't generated any sort of a pass rush this year. There haven't been enough plays behind the line and there haven't been enough hits on the better quarterbacks with Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien, Arizona's Nick Foles, and Northwestern's Dan Persa all had great days against an Iowa secondary that was among the best in the country in pass efficiency defense. Against Gabbert, Iowa has to turn it loose and unleash the hounds. Clayborn hasn't done nearly enough, always seeming a half-click away from coming up with a big hit, while the coaching staff might have to get a bit creative at times.

Iowa needs early points. Missouri got up on Texas Tech early and ended up losing, but it got steamrolled by Nebraska after struggling out of the gate. Without Robinson or Johnson-Koulianos, Iowa is missing two key weapons and isn't equipped for a shootout. In a perfect world, the Hawkeyes get out to a good lead and relies on Stanzi to not make mistakes, keep the chains moving, and grind out drives and time.

Missouri will win if ... it makes the Hawkeyes run. Iowa isn't exactly Navy to begin with, and now without Robinson, forget about it. True freshman Marcus Coker is a promising back who finished second on the team with 403 rushing yards with 129 against Indiana and 90 against Minnesota, but he's not the type of back who'll carry a workload all by himself. This isn't the Iowa offensive line of past years, and it's not going to steamroll its way over the Tigers; and it needs to. It's no coincidence that Iowa's five worst rushing performances of the year turned out to be the five losses. The offense only scored 14 rushing touchdowns with two of them coming in the five defeats.

The Tigers have to win the special teams battle and has to keep Iowa on its side of the field. Mizzou punter Matt Grabner had a nice year helping the punting game netting a great 38.9 yards per kick, and while Iowa is good at returning punts, it's not elite. However, the Hawkeyes are 15th in the nation in kick returns thanks to the eighth-leading kick returner in college football … Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. If the Tigers do all the little things right, and if they don't lose the turnover battle, they should be able to survive.

What will happen: The Tigers won't be impressive, but they'll be consistent for a full sixty minutes as the short-to-midrange passing game will dink and dunk the Hawkeyes to death. The Iowa lines will be inspired for about 20 minutes, and Iowa will look like the drama won't matter, and then the Missouri pass rush will take over. Stanzi won't make a slew of mistakes, but he won't come up with the big plays needed to keep up the pace.

CFN Prediction: Missouri 26 … Iowa 20 ... Line: Missouri -3
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Pick ATS: Missouri  Confidence Score: 101
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 27 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Missouri   Pick Confidence - 7
- A good matchup in brand name, Mizzou could use a big bowl win after a clunker last year against Navy. Iowa was supposed to be national title-good, but was a major disappointment as it goes from the Orange Bowl last year to the Insight to a mega-scandal brewing. While the Tigers might have finished the regular season as the best team in the Big 12 North, Iowa finished with a disastrous loss to Minnesota.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Iowa   Pick Confidence - 22
- Iowa needs to make a statement to somewhat offset a disappointing November. With a team that was good enough to win the Big Ten, taking a four-game losing streak into the offseason would be a disaster for the Hawkeyes.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 8
- Because ESPN took the Insight Bowl from the NFL Network, America will actually get to see this game. Given its obvious appeal as a lead-in to the 2011 Big Ten season, so much the better. However, Missouri needs to stop getting shafted in these bowl derbies. Remember the 2007 season?

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 34
- Given the absolute collapse that is the Arizona Cardinals, folks in the desert will be gagging for this match-up. We really wanted to see Nebraska v. Iowa in a prep for next season, but Missouri will do. Will Iowa be up for it, given the team's expectations before the season, and its epic fail to Minnesota on the last weekend?

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 6
- Not the place Iowa envisioned playing for the holidays. Ricky Stanzi and the Hawkeyes went from BCS contender, to the forgotten Big Ten team seemingly overnight.

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 35
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Missouri   Pick Confidence - 21
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 27
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Missouri  Pick Confidence - 11
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Iowa   Pick Confidence -  26