Dec. 27, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. - Truth be told - and the numbers confirm it - there isn't that much of a difference between the two teams that will square off Tuesday night in the 2010 Insight Bowl.
Missouri, the Big 12 Conference's representative, averaged a little more than 30 points a game during the 2010 regular season. Iowa , the Big Ten Conference's representative, averaged 29.
The Tiger defense ranks 6th nationally, having allowed just 15 points a game in 2010. The Hawkeyes ranked 7th at 16 points allowed.
Both teams have shown the ability to throw it in 2010. Both teams have shown the ability to run it in 2010.
Both teams registered big victories in 2010. Both also stumbled in 2010.
Both are looking to make a statement on the playing field inside Sun Devil Stadium which, Insight Bowl officials indicate, will be filled with a record-setting crowd well in excess of 50,000. The game will also likely set an Insight Bowl record for television audience - the Iowa-Missouri contest will be televised live by ESPN.
So, if the "measurables" come up virtually even, could this game be decided by the oft-cited intangible, "momentum" ?
"I hope not," UI coach Kirk Ferentz responded when asked whether the momentum of November overcomes a four-week layoff and carries into games played in late December. Missouri won its last three games; Iowa was on the short end of its final three.
"We've treated this month as a separate entity. And I think the guys have done a good job with each phase of the month, and there are phases during the course of December, certainly. We've had a good week now, and the guys have done a good job in all regards. And, hopefully, we'll show up tomorrow."
Iowa had an opportunity to win all five of the games it lost during the regular season in the fourth quarter. Ferentz is hoping they'll be in that position again Tuesday night and, of course, that the final score will reflect fourth-quarter success.
"Our first objective is to be in that position. And then we certainly need to do a better job in that fourth quarter," Iowa's head coach said. "It won't be easy. Missouri has done a great job, most notably in the Oklahoma game. They dominated the fourth quarter there. So we will have to be at our best.
"Our goal is to play better and finish the game, play the entire 60 minutes," he added.
"Our first objective is to be in that position. And then we certainly need to do a better job in that fourth quarter. It won't be easy. Missouri has done a great job, most notably in the Oklahoma game. They dominated the fourth quarter there. So we will have to be at our best. Our goal is to play better and finish the game, play the entire 60 minutes."
So, if the game is square on the stats page and mo' is out the window because of the time that has passed, and both teams play as capable for the full 60, it's not a stretch to think the final outcome might be decided by a field goal.
If so, Ferentz is extremely comfortable with a rookie who has settled in nicely as Iowa's No. 1 placekicker, Michael Meyer.
"It's not fair to throw this out there, but I will. Nate Kaeding had highs and lows his first year. As a pro he's had some, too. However, there's nobody I would want to kick more than Nate Kaeding," Ferentz said.
Meyer was good on 12 of his 15 field goal attempts including his last two and five of his last six dating back to the Indiana game when he made four of five and earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
"The things we have seen from Mike have been very, very positive. I think he has done a really good job. It wasn't our intention for him to win the field goal job, but he did. That's to his credit.
"And I think his future is really good. He has handled it well. Seems to be very even keeled and doesn't look to be affected by a lot of things," Ferentz continued.
"He has had a couple of misses. All of us wish that didn't happen, mostly him. But that's part of being a kicker. And we're really confident he is the guy that's really going to grow in our program. We are really thrilled about his first year."
INSIGHT BOWL NOTES