Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Oklahoma Sooners Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Insight Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS), Friday December 30th, 2011. 10:00PM EST, Insight Bowl
Sun Devil Stadium Tempe, Az.

By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: IA +13.5/OKL -13.5
Over/Under Total: 58

For the 2nd straight year, the Iowa Hawkeyes will participate in the Insight Bowl when they battle the no. 19 Oklahoma Sooners from Sun Devil Stadium on December 30th. The Hawkeyes captured a big postseason victory over another Big 12 foe in Missouri 27-24 in last year’s Insight Bowl and they will be looking for similar results again.

However, the Hawkeyes opponent this season will be a tough Oklahoma Sooners team that spent much of the year flirting among the National Championship talk. The Sooners faltered down the stretch losing two of their last 3 games to surging Big 12 foes in both Baylor and rival Oklahoma State. Still, the Sooners have played well for most of the season and they have the opportunity stamp their 10th win of the season with a victory over the Hawkeyes.

If Oklahoma does score their 10th win over Iowa, it will give the Sooners their 33rd 10 win season in school history which will extend their current NCAA record of 32. Furthermore, most online odds makers have Oklahoma as huge 13 point favorites over Iowa. In fact, the 13 point margin is the second most lopsided match-up in the entire 2011 bowl season meaning the chances look good for the Sooners to score that coveted 10th victory.

Still, the 7-5 Hawkeyes are not going to roll over and make it easy for Oklahoma. The Hawkeyes have put together 3 straight bowl victories over the last 3 years and historically play well in these big underdog types of games. The concerning issue for Iowa in this match-up will be if they have the offensive firepower to match the Sooners that have averaged 40.25 points per contest. So far this year, Iowa has managed just 379 total yards (70th in NCAA) and 28.67 points (53rd in NCAA) per game.

Despite the rather unimpressive offensive numbers as a whole, the Hawkeyes still have several big time playmakers that can cause problems for the Oklahoma defense. Iowa running back Marcus Coker racked up the 2nd most yards of any running back in the Big Ten this season with 1,384 rushing yards behind only to Heisman Trophy Finalist Montee Ball. Coker is a guy that Iowa can ride heavily in attempt to sustain long drives and keep the Sooners offense off the field.

In passing situations, WR Marvin McNutt is the big play receiver. McNutt has racked up 1,269 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns so far this season. Before the loss to Nebraska in the season finale, McNutt had put together 5 straight 100 yard receiving performances and rest assured he will be primary target number 1 against Oklahoma’s defense. QB James Vandenberg has been decent behind center this year completing 59% passing for 2,806 yards with 23 scores and 6 picks on the year. Therefore, Iowa should be able to move the ball through the passing game if they have to but I will still expect the Hawkeyes offense to attempt to establish the rushing attack especially early.

On the Oklahoma side of the offense the Sooners have had little trouble this season moving the football. QB Landry Jones has put up huge numbers completing 63% passing for 4,302 yards with 28 scores and 14 picks. Wide outs Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds are both big time players in the receiving core. Of course the biggest star in the receiving core is WR Ryan Broyles but Broyles was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Therefore both Stills and Reynolds must continue to pick up the slack which has not been much of an issue. With so much talent in the passing game, it’s hard to imagine anyone slowing down the Sooners offense.

Oddly enough it has been Oklahoma that has been their worst enemy this season. The Sooners own the 4th best offense in the nation averaging 532 yards per game and as previously mentioned the offense has been responsible for 40 points per game. However, the major problem has been the turnovers which have plagued the offense in their losses this year.

In Oklahoma’s 3 losses this year, they have given up 10 turnovers in those games. In the season finale against Oklahoma State, the Sooners were blown out 44-10 and turnovers were the main reason behind the rare loss. The Sooners turned the ball over 5 times in the loss alone. Therefore, it will be extremely important that Oklahoma avoids those dreaded turnovers when they battle the Hawkeyes for their 10th victory of the year.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I just think Oklahoma’s offense is too much here barring excessive turnovers. The Hawkeyes defense has had some horrific performances against the pass this season and that spells disaster in this scenario. I’m betting Oklahoma at -13.5.

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