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Harty: Iowa vs. Missouri; it’s about time

[ 8 ] December 5, 2010 |

Considering how the Iowa football team unraveled during the month of November, it was rewarded nicely Sunday.

Nobody will ever mistake the Insight Bowl for a BCS bowl, or even the Outback Bowl for that matter.

It’s not the bowl game in Arizona that Iowa fans dreamed of attending when the 2010 season started with such unusually high expectations.

But the opportunity to face Missouri in a bowl game and in a warm-weather climate where many transplanted Iowans now live is a pretty nice consolation prize.

It’s also a potential cash cow for the Insight Bowl.

Combine the number of Iowa fans who will travel to the game with the number of Iowa fans who already live within driving distance of Tempe, Ariz., and it’s reasonable to think that at least 20,000 of them will attend the game Dec. 28.

Iowa versus Nebraska would have been a more intriguing matchup, especially with the Cornhuskers on the verge of joining the Big Ten Conference.

But with Missouri, you have a team that Iowa hasn’t faced since 1910, so it’s long overdue that these two border rivals get reacquainted on the football field.

This also is the same Missouri program that bailed on Iowa in 2005 in order to pad its non-conference record by facing Arkansas State.

Iowa was coming off a three-year stretch from 2002-04 when it had a 31-7 record, so it seemed like a cowardly act when the Hawkeyes were dropped from Missouri’s schedule.

Now it’s time to settle the score, although, Iowa fans probably aren’t as confident about facing Missouri as they would have been six weeks ago.

Missouri would have to be considered the favorite heading into the game after finishing the regular season with a 10-2 record. The high point to Missouri’s season was a 36-27 victory over Big 12 champion Oklahoma on Oct. 23 in Columbia, Mo.

Unlike Iowa, the Tigers never suffered through a prolonged skid.

Missouri also is led by a dynamic quarterback in 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior Blaine Gabbert.

In addition to passing for 6,388 yards and 39 touchdowns during his career, Gabbert also is deceptively fast and a threat once he scrambles from the pocket.

The fact that Missouri got picked for the Insight Bowl over Nebraska makes you wonder if it was the Big 12 Conference’s way of saying good riddance to the Big Ten-bound Cornhuskers.

You can’t blame Big 12 officials for not wanting to do Nebraska any favors.

One thing that was evident throughout the waiting process is that Iowa’s bowl opponent would be vastly superior to its last opponent.

The thought of Iowa losing to lowly Minnesota was almost incomprehensible until it happened in the regular-season finale Nov. 27 in Minneapolis.

It became obvious that Iowa had problems with each game it played in November. But the loss to Minnesota still stung like a hang nail dipped in lime juice because you didn’t think this Iowa team could sink that low.

It’s scary to think what could happen if Iowa picked up against Missouri in the Insight Bowl where it left off against Minnesota eight days ago.

But it’s exciting to think what could happen if Iowa recaptures whatever it had the day it pounded then-undefeated Michigan State by 31 points at Kinnick Stadium.

Few Iowa teams have performed at such a high level and at such a low level during the same season.

As for those wondering why Iowa got passed over in the bowl selection process by Penn State and Michigan, considering they both lost to Iowa this season by double-digits, nobody ever said the bowl selection process was fair. All that really matters to bowl officials is picking teams that will help generate the most interest; or in other words, the most money.

Iowa, Penn State and Michigan all finished the regular season with 7-5 records.

But Penn State is coached by a living legend in his 80s and Michigan still is Michigan despite its fall from grace under coach Rich Rodriguez.

Iowa got what it deserved, which is a chance to redeem itself against a quality opponent and a chance for its fans to escape to a warm climate.

Now the question is; did Iowa get more than it can handle? That depends on which Iowa team will show up for the game.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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