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Iowa vs. Oklahoma, 12/30/2011 22:00
Point Spread: +14/-105 Iowa
Iowa has been an excellent team to back in bowl games under head coach Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes have won outright and covered the spread in three straight bowl game appearances, and I think getting them at +14 is an absolute gift.
Dating back to the Hawkeyes 24-26 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl, Iowa has covered four straight in postseason play. Iowa was a 9-point underdog in that game to Texas, and they nearly won outright. The Hawkeyes were 6-point underdogs against Georgia Tech in the 2009 Orange Bowl, they won that game 24-14. Last year they were getting 2-points against Missouri in the Insight Bowl and won that game outright 27-24.
The big concern for Iowa is they will be without starting running back Marcus Coker, who finished second in the Big Ten with 1,384 rushing yards to go along with 15 touchdowns. Coker has been the predominant back this season, as no other running back has more than 18 attempts.
A big reason why Coker had so much success, is because he was running behind a talented offensive line. I see no reason why someone can't step up and give Iowa some production on the ground. Last year Coker came out of nowhere to rush for 219 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri in the bowl game.
It's not like Oklahoma has a powerhouse run defense. The Sooners come in 45th against the run (139.6 ypg). They just gave up 278 rushing yards in their regular season finale against Oklahoma State.
All of that and we haven't even got to talking about the weapons Iowa has in the passing game. Junior quarterback James Vandenberg threw for 2,806 yards with 23 touchdowns to just six interceptions. Vandenberg has a future NFL wideout at his disposal in Marvin McNutt, who finished up the year with 78 catches for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Oklahoma is going to be able to move the ball against a suspect Iowa defense, but I don't think they are going to have as much success as some might think. Oklahoma's offense has not been the same since the loss of star receiver Ryan Broyles, and I expect Ferentz to have a solid game plan ready for what the Sooners will be looking to do offensively.
Iowa is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater, while Oklahoma is just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games as a favorite. BET THE HAWKEYES +14!