Sooners Upend the Hawkeyes in the Desert
Dec. 31, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The University of Iowa football team found its groove midway through the third quarter and climbed to within 21-14 with seven minutes remaining, but No. 19 Oklahoma scored the final 10 points to run out 31-14 winners in the 2011 Insight Bowl.
The Hawkeyes end the 2011 season with a 7-6 overall record, while the Sooners end 10-3. Iowa's loss snapped a school record string of three consecutive bowl game victories.
"Our guys never quit," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. "They played hard and competed the whole game. At the end of the day, they were a better team than us tonight and deserved to win. But, I am really proud of our guys' effort."
After falling behind 21-0 midway through the third quarter, junior quarterback James Vandenberg and the Hawkeye offense began finding its footing.
Iowa used a 16 play, 75 yard drive to get on the board. Vandenberg completed 7-of-8 passes on the series, which included a 5-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz on fourth down. Vandenberg rolled to his right before reversing field and throwing across his body to Fiedorowicz, who had planted himself in the end zone.
The Hawkeyes converted two fourth downs on the series. The first was a fourth and 3 from the 17 when Vandenberg found Fiedorowicz on a hot route to beat a blitz to keep the drive alive.
Following the touchdown, the Iowa defense forced a three and out to build on the momentum. On third and 2 from the 35, sophomore linebacker Christian Kirksey fought off a chop block attempt by Trey Millard to stop Trey Franks for 2-yard loss to force a punt.
After trading punts, the Hawkeyes used a 12 play, 78 yard drive to make it a one possession game. Vandenberg connected on his first four passes to open the series, including a 12-yarder to Marvin McNutt, Jr., that tied Iowa's single season receptions record.
Vandenberg then found Kevonte Martin-Manley in the seam for a 21-yard gain on first and 10 from the 37, advancing the ball to the OU 16. After three incompletions, Vandenberg connected with Keenan Davis on a crossing route on fourth and 10 for a 14-yard gain to the two. Iowa pushed it into the end zone on a perfectly executed screen pass from Vandenberg to freshman Jordan Canzeri from 9 yards out. It was Canzeri's first career score.
With the game in the balance, Oklahoma methodically moved the ball down field, going 44 yards over nine plays before Mike Hunnicutt made a 35-yard field goal to make the score 24-14. After Iowa turned it over on downs, the Sooners added a late score on a 21-yard touchdown run by Blake Bell.
The Iowa offense outgained Oklahoma, 292-275. Vandenberg finished 23-of-44 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Canzeri carried the ball 22 times for 58 yards, and Davis had five receptions for 76 yards. McNutt, Jr., finished with four catches for 46 yards in his final collegiate game, giving him 82 receptions for the season.
Norm Parker's Iowa defense performed admirably in his last go round. The Hawkeyes held the Sooners more than 250 yards below their season average. Senior Tyler Nielsen had eight tackles to pace the squad, while senior Mike Daniels had three tackles for loss and two sacks.
"Our guys really played hard," said Ferentz. "That's a very explosive offense that has got a lot of yards and points this season. Our guys competed, but at the end of the day we weren't there."
Oklahoma capitalized on an Iowa miscue to score the game's first points. On Iowa's second possession, Vandenberg misfired on a third and 10 attempt for McNutt, Jr., where Jamell Fleming picked off the pass and returned it 21 yards to the Iowa 10 yard line.
Two plays later, Bell bulldozed his way for a 4 yard touchdown run to give the Sooners the 7-0 advantage.
After taking over on the 26 yard line, the UI offense settled down and drove 65 yards over 10 plays into the red zone. Canzeri rushed for 29 yards on nine carries during the drive, but his attempt on fourth and one from the OU 9 yard line was stuffed, forcing a turnover on downs.
In the second quarter, the Sooners put together a 13-play, 66-yard drive to extend their advantage to 14-0. Jones completed 4-of-6 passes for 50 yards to move OU to the Iowa 21 yard line, and on third and six, he scrambled seven yards to set up Bell's second touchdown run of the evening.
Iowa's defense surrendered 89 yards of total offense to the Sooners in the opening half. Iowa had more than a seven minute advantage in time of possession and finished with 134 yards of total offense, but Vandenberg went 9-of-20 for 89 yards with the interception.
Oklahoma added to its advantage early in the second half, taking the ball 64 yards over 10 plays. Landry Jones completed a 22-yard strike to Kameel Jackson to move the ball to the Iowa 7 yard line. Two plays later, Jones tossed a 3 yard strike to Trent Ratterree to make the score 21-0.
Jones finished 16-of-25 for 161 yards with one touchdown pass. Bell, OU's running quarterback, had 51 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns, while Jackson had three receptions for 45 yards.