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Insight Bowl Pick

Iowa vs. Oklahoma

12/30/11

It will be the Big 10 vs. the Big 12 as Iowa takes on Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl in Tempe Arizona, in what will be the night cap of a 4 game set on Friday, December 30th. The Sooners opened as a whopping -16.5 point favorite over the Hawkeyes at 5 Dimes and have since been bet down to -14, in what has been fairly balanced betting action, which tells us that the larger wagers have come in on Iowa.

Not the easiest game to handicap, mostly due to motivational factors. Hard to gauge these teams. The Sooners are no doubt disappointed. Their season started as they frequently do, with hopes of a National title. Those hopes were squashed with a loss to Texas Tech back in October. They were further derailed by losing to Baylor and then completely decimated by getting blown off the field by Oklahoma State to end the year.

Iowa wasn't expected to do much this year. They ended up fielding a pretty competitive team and likely have to look at this season as a success. To be playing a national power like the Sooners in a late December Bowl is a feather in their cap. Plenty of reasons to come in motivated to play. Being installed as the largest underdog of ALL bowl teams is certainly an angle I would use if I was Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

We think there's some value with the Iowa side here getting 2 touchdowns or more. However, we're proceeding with caution here. We're proceeding with caution, because of the suspension of Iowa running back Marcus Coker as well as the fact that our very accurate score prediction model has predicted the largest margin of any bowl game here, predicting a 42-21 Oklahoma win.

The Coker loss kills Iowa. He was the star of last years Insight Bowl, a 27-24 win over Missouri, piling up 219 yards and two touchdowns. He was the go to back all year and will be missed big time against the Sooners. Yes, there's the potential for someone else to step up, for s star to be born, but you can't count on that happening. This loss hurts.

The Sooners can be explosive and certainly have the weapons to live up to our models prediction. But we'd prefer to look at the Sooners games against Florida State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Baylor and even Iowa State, all teams we feel Iowa could play with and all were either close Sooner wins or outright losses.

We don't love the play. Iowa was 1-4 on the road this year and the loss of Coker is an absolute killer. But we like laying double digits in bowl games even less. Even if our model is correct and this game is sitting on a 21 point margin as the clock ticks down, that old back door last minute touchdown is till on the table. It's a weak call, but we'll side with the Hawkeyes. Iowa +14

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