Dec. 4, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Valley of the Sun was so good to the University of Iowa and Oklahoma last season that an encore is in order.
Iowa (7-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten Conference) and No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) will meet in the Insight Bowl on Dec. 30, beginning at 9 p.m. (CT), from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Hawkeyes are the defending Insight Bowl champions after upsetting No. 12 Missouri, 27-24, a year ago; two days later, the Sooners defeated Connecticut, 48-20, in the Fiesta Bowl, 20 miles away in Glendale.
Iowa is searching for an unprecedented fourth consecutive postseason victory. Aside from the Insight win, the Hawkeyes also won the 2009 Outback Bowl (31-10 against South Carolina) and the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl (27-24 against No. 9 Georgia Tech).
The Sooners, ranked No. 1 in the preseason by both AP and USA Today, opened their 2011 season with six straight wins, but finished with losses in two of their last three outings. Oklahoma dropped a 44-10 decision at Oklahoma State on Dec. 3 and was defeated 45-38 at Baylor on Nov. 19. The lone victory during that stretch was at home against Iowa State, 26-6, on Nov. 26. The Cyclones are the only common opponent for the Insight Bowl teams — Iowa lost at Ames, 44-41 in triple overtime, on Sept. 10.
Oklahoma is coached by Bob Stoops, who earned letters as a Hawkeye defensive back from 1979-82. Stoops was first-team All-Big Ten in 1982 and the lone MVP of the team that season. He began his coaching career at the UI — first as a graduate assistant from 1983-84, and then as a volunteer from 1985-87. Also on Stoops’ staff are former Hawkeyes Bruce Kittle (1977-81), who is in charge of the tight ends and offensive tackles, and Jay Norvell (1985), who is co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
The Sooners boast the top scoring defense in the Big 12, allowing 22.8 points per game. They are second in pass offense (365.1 yards per game) and second in red zone defense, allowing 26 scores in 35 trips inside the 20 (74.3 percent).
Junior quarterback Landry Jones runs the productive Oklahoma offense. He completed 339-of-537 passes for 4,302 yards and 28 touchdowns. Jones was picked off 14 times. His top receiving targets are Ryan Broyles (83 catches, 1,157 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Kenny Stills (58-818-8). Broyles leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards, averaging 150.7 per game.
Freshman kicker Mike Hunnicutt made 20-of-23 field goals with a long of 53. He was 51-of-52 on point-after attempts.
Defensively, the leading tackler for the Sooners is sophomore defensive back Aaron Colvin with 80, followed by senior linebacker Travis Lewis with 79 and sophomore linebacker Tom Wort with 66.
The teams have met just once previously, in the second game with Hayden Fry as head coach at the UI. Oklahoma won, 21-6, on Sept. 15, 1979, in Norman. Stoops and Kittle were Hawkeye players at the time.
Oklahoma is 26-17-1 all-time in bowl games. The Sooners are 2-4 in postseason games played in Arizona. Iowa is 14-10-1 in bowl games.
Oklahoma is the ninth bowl-eligible, and fourth national rated team, the Hawkeyes will face this season. Iowa is 4-4 against teams playing in this postseason and 1-2 against teams ranked in the top 25.
Insight Bowl tickets and ticket information is available at www.hawkeyesports.com, or by contacting the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS. There is no surcharge on tickets ordered through the UI ticket office and the vast majority of seats sold by the UI are sideline seats. Insight Bowl tickets range in price from $25 for upper level seats to $67 for lower level.
As always, the UI Alumni Association will offer fans of the Hawkeyes interested in following the team to Tempe a turn-key tour solution. Fans can call (855) 399-2950 or go online at www.hawkeysportstravel.com. Fans can also elect to travel to Arizona with Winebrenner Red Carpet Travel and can do so by calling (800) 458-6001 or visiting them online at www.winebrenner.com.