December 27th, 2010- By Alex Groberman
Wrapping up their strong season by reaching a bowl game for the sixth straight year, the Missouri Tigers will aim to take down a somewhat disappointing Iowa Hawkeyes team on December 28 at the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.
Missouri comes into this game riding high off surpassing some low expectations set for them early in the season. Originally kicking the year off outside the nation’s top 25 rankings, the Tigers came very close to their third Big 12 championship game in the last four years. If not for back to back losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech, this team would be playing in a very different bowl game right now.
Nevertheless, Missouri bounced back from these unfortunate losses to win three games in a row and at the moment has a shot at recording 11 wins on the year for the third time in the school’s history.
In 2007, the Tigers featured a team that won a program record, 12 games.
Despite being generally recognized as a spread offense team, the Tigers had shown more range on offense this year putting up 401.1 yards per game. This is particularly noteworthy considering the absence of the team’s leading rusher, Derrick Washington, for the season. The team was able to get at least 380 yards from three differing running backs throughout the season.
On top of hat, second year starter has put up an impressive, career best 62.2 percent competition rate on the year. The quarterback’s shining moment came during the team’s 36-27 upset win over Oklahoma on October 23 when threw for 308 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa, meanwhile, started the year as the No. 9 team in the country. Despite high hopes, the squad that at one pointed hoped to walk away with the Big Ten title and another BCS bowl appearance faltered. Losing their last three games of the season, the Hawkeyes ended the year at a disappointing 7-5 and fourth in the conference.
Besides the team’s well documented on the field struggles, Iowa was also the victim of some horrible off the field press when Derell Johnson-Koulianos, their all-Big ten wide receiver, was arrested on drug charges on December 7. According to police reports, authorities found an assortment of pain killers, muscle relaxers and illegal drugs scattered all over his room. After agreeing to a drug test, he ultimately ended testing positive for marijuana and cocaine.
The team quickly severed ties with the senior via suspension – however, they now face a deep hole at wide receiver. Johnson-Koulianos had 10 touchdowns, 46 catches and 745 yards on the year. He was also the first player to lead Iowa in receiving in his first three years.
As if that wasn’t enough, the team then announced on December 13 that their running back Adam Robinson would sit out the team’s bowl game for not meeting “team expectations and policies.” With the sophomore being out against Missouri, freshman Marcus Coker will likely get the nod to start. Still, Coker will have big shoes to fill as Robinson had put up 10 touchdowns and 941 yards on the year.
Iowa’s real strength this season has been the quality play of some of their defensive players. Adrian Clayborn, one of the country’s best defensive lineman finished as a finalist for the Lombardi and Hendricks awards. He also finished with nine tackles and two sacks en route to an MVP worthy performance at last year’s Orange bowl against Georgia Tech.
Aside from Clayborn, the Hawkeyes also boast a defensive core that includes defensive backs Tyler Sash and Shaun Prater. Both players named to the first team all Big Ten, and Sash was third on the team with 73 tackles while Prater led the way with four interceptions.
Offensively, it will be about limiting mistakes for the Hawkeyes. Senior quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, put up a mere four interceptions on the season while tallying up a career best 25 touchdowns.
Missouri leads the series between these two programs, however, they haven’t faced Iowa since a 5-0 home victory in 1910.
Iowa comes into this game at as a one-point underdog to Missouri on College Football Betting odds, with the over/under set at 47 points on most online sportsbooks.
Missouri is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against at Big Ten opponent. Iowa is 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.