Missouri Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big 10)
December 28 - 10:00 pm - ESPN
$3,325,000 payout per team
Usually a bowl game is a reward for a good season, one last game for seniors to show their worth to NFL scouts, and a chance for fans to root on the team for a final game. For the Iowa Hawkeyes, this game feels more like an obstacle to a much needed offseason.
The Hawkeyes began the season strong, but ended in pure meltdown mode, dropping their last three games, including at lowly Minnesota. Missouri, on the other hand, started with seven straight wins, dropped a couple, but ended on a three game winning streak, and are riding the hot hand coming into the Insight Bowl.
To make matters worse, the Hawkeyes are dealing with a plethora of off the field problems, including transfers, drug houses, and injuries. The only major issue for the Tigers is how high can QB Blaine Gabbert's draft stock rise.
Despite less than 250 miles of separation, these teams have only played three times before, none of those games occurring in the last 100 years. Only Missouri has ever appeared in the Insight Bowl before, winning their only game in 1998 over West Virginia, 34-31.
The Hawkeyes are led by Kirk Ferentz, while Gary Pinkel leads the Tigers, and each coach has 10+ years with his school. On the field, the teams are led by senior Ricky Stanzi and junior Blaine Gabbert, respectively. Each will be trying his best to make one last solid showing for the NFL scouts before the 2011 draft (where Gabbert is expected to be a first rounder).
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Jeff Junstrom
SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTIONS: Missouri 29, Iowa 20
Aaron - Missouri
Anson - Missouri
Jeff - Missouri
There's no mystery about momentum in this one. Missouri finished its season with three wins to climb back inside the top 15. Iowa lost its final three games to fall out of the top 25. Both teams will be bringing quality quarterbacks out to Tempe as Iowa's Ricky Stanzi and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert will face off in the desert. -- David Ubben
A good matchup in brand name, Mizzou could use a big bowl win after a clunker last year against Navy. Iowa was supposed to be national title-good, but was a major disappointment as it goes from the Orange Bowl last year to the Insight. While the Tigers might have finished the regular season as the best team in the Big 12 North, Iowa finished with a disastrous loss to Minnesota.