CFN Bowl Analysis ... Insight
Iowa 27 ... Missouri 24
It took all year to do it, but Iowa became the Iowa of 2009 again.
The offensive line decided to take over from the start, with RG Josh Koppel having an amazing opening up holes for Marcus Coker, while left tackle Riley Reiff keeping Missouri star pass rusher Aldon Smith under wraps, but if you told the Iowa coaching staff that the ground game would outgain Mizzou's 225 yards to 78, they'd have assumed an easy win.
Instead, the Iowa defense had a miserable game in the defensive back seven outside of two huge plays; the Brett Greenwood interception in the end zone at the end of the first half and the Micah Hyde al-timers or a pick six that Hawkeye fans will remember forever. But Ricky Stanzi picked a bad time to start playing like a freshman instead of a senior in his final game, pressing when he didn't need to, and the defensive line didn't get to MU QB Blaine Gabbert nearly enough. Considering the drama over the last few weeks, and considering how much the offense appeared to miss Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, coming up with a thundering ground game on a run defense that was so stingy all season long was impressive.
And how is this loss going to sit for Missouri?
After last year's brutal Texas Bowl loss to Navy, this was the chance to erase the notion that Mizzou is a very good program that can't win big games consistently enough to get over the hump. Instead, the Tigers got outplayed on the lines, Gabbert made two horrible throws for picks, and the Big 12 suffers a rough loss to a depleted Big Ten team that should've been blown away in the second half.
But this was Iowa as it was supposed to be. It was expected to come up big when it had to late in games, and while there would be holes to climb out of, the team was supposed to find ways to come through. It did that against Missouri, even when all seemed to be lost late with a sputtering offense and a gassed defensive front.
It wasn't pretty for Iowa, but it'll be more than happy to take it considering all the turnover about to hit the lineup. Missouri might also be starting over next year, but it goes into a second straight off-season on a major sour note. The Tigers gave one away, but the Hawkeyes took it.
- How amazing was Marcus Coker's day? Iowa ran the ball 35 times with Coker running it 33. Ricky Stanzi ran the other two.
- Stanzi got away with one. Actually, two. He needed to be perfect and with the running game working like it did, there was no reason to take chances. He too chances and got burned twice, and there should've been more picks.
- Mizzou flat gave up on trying to run the ball. Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore were effective, but they each only got six carries.
- Iowa's defensive line never lived up to its reputation, and Adrian Clayborn was non-existent for most of yet another game. There wasn't nearly enough of a pass rush, forcing the coaching staff to go to blitzes in key moments. Iowa doesn't blitz, Gabbert was never expecting it, and he couldn't handle it when it came.
Bowl games are complex animals that often defy logic.
How can you explain Iowa's Insight Bowl victory? Not only did the Hawkeyes enter the postseason ice cold, but they were saddled with the extra baggage of losing their top rusher and receiver to drug-related suspensions. Oh, and with a track record of blowing leads in the final quarter, how could you expect them to pull this one out as Missouri seized the momentum? Yet, that's exactly what happened, flipping the script on the regular season. Adding an explanation point to the outcome was the play of true freshman RB Marcus Coker, who set an Iowa bowl record with well over 200 yards and two scores on the ground. While it doesn't offset a disappointing season, it was the kind of performance from a young player that this program desperately needed.
- While I get the upshot of Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, who reminds me of a cross between Drew Bledsoe and Jim Everett, his numbers were somewhat overstated. He has great tools, but how often is he asked to complete a pass more than 10 yards downfield? And when there's pressure, he still has plenty to learn.
- I've watched a ton of Adrian Clayborn this season, and, yes, he's been unusually quiet, including in the Insight Bowl. That said, if I'm an NFL GM, I still use a first round pick on him. He should have left school early a year ago, yet will be just fine once he gets to the next level.
- Considering that they share a border and just delivered one of the most entertaining games of the postseason so far, it's too bad that Iowa and Missouri meet just once a century.
By Matt Zemek
Want to talk about the controversial replay ruling on Missouri's late catch? Well, just wait a minute. The first, last and most important element of the 2010 Insight Bowl was and is the fact that Missouri had Iowa on the ropes, only to then commit a huge mistake. The Tigers shook off a somnambulant first half, found their footing in the second half, and were in the process of driving a dagger into the hearts of the Hawkeyes. Coach Gary Pinkel's team, which has not set the world on fire in bowl games (and deserved a much better bowl bid than this one), was approaching Iowa's third of the gridiron with a 24-20 lead near the 5:30 mark of regulation. Mizzou, down 17-3 after a quarter and a half, showed a considerable degree of resilience after failing to show up in the first 23 minutes of play. It seemed to be only a matter of time before the Tigers put away a member of the conference (the Big Ten) they had hoped to join in 2011.
Then Blaine Gabbert lost his mind… and perhaps a few NFL dollars.
Flushed out of the pocket, Gabbert – with the field in front of him – threw a mind-boggling interception, one of the worst passes in his impressive college career. When Iowa's Micah Hyde then pulled off a 72-yard interception return that Cam Newton could appreciate, Iowa gained a 27-24 lead.
Forget the fact that Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi played poorly in the second half and threw a pair of interceptions at the tail-end of a miserable season. Forget the fact that Missouri controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the second half. Forget the fact that the Tigers piled up 512 yards and limited the Hawkeyes to just three offensive points in the game's final 37 minutes and 32 seconds. Iowa, on the strength of one jawdropping Gabbert gaffe and one equally amazing pick-six return, snared a three-point lead out of nowhere.
Yes, the late-stage replay call on Missouri receiver T.J. Moe – on a fourth-down catch that was overturned and ruled incomplete in Iowa territory – was bogus. The ball might very well have hit the ground, but replay didn't definitively indicate as much. Moreover, those who think Moe bobbled the ball after sliding out of bounds made a poor case. Perhaps the ball did indeed squirm loose, but it was hard to definitively say that was true. If the call on the field had been "incomplete pass," it would have been extremely hard to overturn the initial ruling as well, but since the on-field call was "completed pass," that should have been the final verdict.
Let's get this straight: As long as the requirement for replay overturns of on-field calls is "indisputable video evidence," not a preponderance of evidence or "the balance of the evidence," the replay booth needs to honor on-field rulings in murky situations like the one that emerged at Sun Devil Stadium. On Tuesday night, the booth didn't follow the rules, and the replay process received another black eye as a result.
However, let the final word be the same as the first word on this game: Missouri acquired a position of considerable strength, only to forfeit that position with a horrible and untimely error. Iowa, meanwhile, persevered even while playing poorly and getting whipped for most of the second half. Iowa had so many reasons to not care about this game. The Hawkeyes could have phoned in this Insight Bowl, but they didn't. That's to their credit. The team that deserved to win this game was the team that in fact prevailed in Tempe, Arizona.
--Ricky Stanzi's poor play was and is magnified by the fact that Iowa running back Marcus Coker ran for over 200 yards. When a quarterback can't parlay a strong running game into an efficient passing performance, that's bad news. (Then again, that's what Peyton Manning has been doing of late.)
--Finally, a college bowl game delivered above-average pass catching. The level of receiving in this game easily exceeded anything produced by the previous week and a half of bowl games. Both teams' wideouts made big-league grabs in traffic and risked their bodies to generate offensive production. Missouri and Iowa should have very proud wide-receiver coaches tonight.
-- This game started after 10 p.m. Eastern time and ended after 1 a.m. in the East. With only two bowl games on Tuesday, tell me why this timeslotting had to exist? The Champs Sports Bowl should have started at 5 Eastern, with this game kicking off at 8:30 Eastern. Thursday's Holiday Bowl won't start until 10:05 p.m. Eastern. Way to cater to your fan base, college football.