Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Iowa vs Oklahoma 2011 Insight Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/30/11: The 2011 season was marked by disappointment for the 14th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (9-3). After starting the season as the No. 1 team in the country, an unexpected loss to Texas Tech dropped the Sooners out of the title hunt. Subsequent losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State eliminated them from BCS bowl consideration all together. Now, Oklahoma will have to settle for a trip to the Insight Bowl, where the Sooners will meet the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) Friday night. Despite falling far short of expectations, Oklahoma is a 14-point favorite in this matchup.
While the underachieving Sooners had lots of issues this year, scoring points wasn’t one of them. Oklahoma ranked 10th in the country in scoring, averaging just under 40 points per game. The offense was powered by a spread passing attack that ranked fourth in the nation. The Sooners averaged more than 370 yards per game through the air, and starting quarterback Landry Jones threw for more than 4,300 yards.
Despite the great numbers, the Sooners passing attack had suffered some serious blows in the second half of the year. Star wide receiver Ryan Broyles suffered a knee injury, leaving Jones without his top target and one of the best receivers in college football history. When Broyles left the lineup, Jones’ turnovers began to climb while his completion percentage fell. Without Broyles’ ability to stretch the field, the offense has lost its explosiveness. Throw in an injury to leading rusher Dominique Whaley, and the Sooners offense is really a shell of what it was to start the year.
Of course, Iowa’s offense won’t be at full strength either. Starting running back Marcus Coker is suspended for the game, leaving the Hawkeyes without the centerpiece to their offense. As a result, quarterback James Vandenberg will have to take on an enhanced role, which could be bad news for Iowa. The Sooners’ defense was far from great this year, but the unit did rush the passer well. Without Coker to provide balance, the Hawkeyes may be forced to throw more than usual, paying to the strength of the Sooners’ pass rush.
The X-factor in the game could end up being Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt. He enters the game with 12 touchdown catches and more than 1,200 yards. He is an excellent deep threat, and the Oklahoma secondary has given up a ton of big plays in the passing game. With Iowa being forced to lean on the passing game, McNutt will have the opportunity to put up some big numbers. If he does, the Hawkeyes have a chance to keep pace with the Sooners.
Oklahoma’s mindset will play a big role as well. Will Bob Stoops’ team finish the year on a high note, or will the Sooners be disinterested after missing out on the BCS? Oklahoma has been guilty of the latter several times this year, and there is no guarantee that will change Friday night.
In the end, the Sooners certainly have more firepower on offense, even with the injuries. Not to mention the fact that the loss of Coker probably hurts the Hawkeyes more than any injury Oklahoma is dealing with. That being said, Jones has been a different player in the last month of the season, and turnovers remain a constant problem. Oklahoma is the more talented team and should win the game, but the Sooners haven’t been focused lately, and that doesn’t bode well for their chances of covering a larger point spread.
Prediction: Oklahoma Sooners (-14) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Oklahoma -14 to cover the spread
|Insight Bowl: Iowa vs Oklahoma
Time: 10 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Oklahoma -14 Total: Over/Under 57.5
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