It's time to look at three keys for the Iowa Hawkeyes before their Insight Bowl showdown Friday night against Oklahoma.
1. Establish some type of run game: Iowa must win the Insight Bowl without its top rusher for the second consecutive season, but this year brings an even bigger challenge. Suspended sophomore Marcus Coker basically has been Iowa's rushing attack this season, accounting for 67.4 percent of the carries and 80.7 percent of the yards. While Iowa boasts a strong passing attack and Oklahoma ranks 83rd nationally in pass defense, the Hawkeyes aren't built to win games with a one-dimensional offense. The onus is on the offensive line to create room for an inexperienced stable of backs. Jordan Canzeri could be a factor, while Brad Rogers, Damon Bullock and De'Andre Johnson also could get touches.
2. Rattle Landry Jones: The OU quarterback hasn't been the same since star receiver Ryan Broyles tore his ACL. Jones has thrown five interceptions and zero touchdowns in the past three games, barely completing half of his pass attempts against Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Iowa's defensive backs must make some impact plays in the game, and cornerback Micah Hyde is more than capable after recording the game-deciding pick-six against Missouri's Blaine Gabbert in last year's bowl to earn defensive MVP honors. Hyde and fellow corner Shaun Prater both need strong performances, and perhaps more important, the Iowa defensive line has to get in Jones' face. Iowa's line has been hot and cold, recording three or more sacks in six games and one or zero sacks in five other contests. The Hawkeyes need the good front four to show up.
3. Start off strong: Many are questioning Oklahoma's motivation for this game after a disappointing season. While it's hard to imagine a Bob Stoops not being ready for a winnable bowl, Iowa must capitalize on any Sooners letdown. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 69-50 in the first quarter and 175-118 in the first half this season. Oklahoma stumbled out of the gate in all three of its losses (Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State). Iowa had a blistering start in the 2010 Insight Bowl, building a 17-3 lead against Missouri before having to rally late. A few quick scores could put the Sooners on their heels and have them start questioning whether they really want to be in Tempe.