Dec. 11, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Forget the weather difference, although it is nearly 80 degrees in Tempe, Ariz., while there are blizzard warnings in the Midwest. Forget the difference in accommodations, although the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Phoenix is quite an upgrade from a dorm room in Iowa City.
You can throw those luxuries out a window; the University of Iowa football team is on a mission. That mission is to bring the Insight Bowl trophy to the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
"We're going down there to win a football game," UI sophomore offensive tackle Riley Reiff said. "We're not worried about the temperature, the nice hotels and that stuff. We're going down there to win a football game."
During the first few pre-bowl practices, the Hawkeyes are focusing on basic details which have helped make Iowa one of the elite programs in the nation.
"It's back to technique: Iowa versus Iowa for a few days," Reiff said. "We're getting after it, trying to improve and getting ready for the bowl game."
Reiff anchors an offensive line that helped the Hawkeyes average 379.4 yards and 29.1 points per game during the regular season. Despite injuries and defections in the backfield, Iowa still averaged nearly 40 more rushing yards per game than its opponents. Three Hawkeyes gained more than 57 yards per game, led by Adam Robinson, who picked up 941 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"We're working on our footwork, hand placement in pass sets, pad level, all kinds of stuff," said Reiff, a second team all-Big Ten honoree by both the coaches and media. "You want to keep refining your technique."
Iowa has been back in the Bubble for three practices and Reiff said the team is improving every day.
"We're trying to get some tempo going and get everyone going," he said.
The Insight Bowl gives the Hawkeyes (7-5) an opportunity to win a bowl game in three consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Iowa had seven wins through its first nine games.
"The way I look at it, we've got one more game and we're going to be ready to play," Reiff said. "We're going to come out ready to go."
The opponent is Missouri (10-2), which shared the best record in the Big 12 Conference North Division with Nebraska. The Tigers defeated league champion Oklahoma, 36-27, on Oct. 23.
There will be a brief break in Iowa's bowl preparation Saturday afternoon as the team gathers for its annual awards banquet.
"Everybody dresses up nice, that's about it," Reiff said with a smile.
The Insight Bowl is Tuesday, Dec. 28, in Tempe, Ariz., with a 9 p.m. start (CT). The game will be played in Sun Devil Stadium (56,000) on the Arizona State campus and televised nationally by ESPN (HD). Iowa has a 13-10-1 record in bowl games.