10:00 PM ET, December 28, 2010
Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
10:00 PM ET, December 28, 2010
Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Micah Hyde snatched the ball near the sideline, ran toward the middle of the field, even backward for a few yards before sprinting up the far sideline.
Coker bulled his way through Missouri's defense in place of suspended starter Adam Robinson and Hyde scored the decisive touchdown on a meandering, 72-yard interception return in the fourth quarter, helping Iowa close out a difficult season with a 27-24 win over Missouri on Tuesday night in the Insight Bowl.
The Big Ten is off to a 1-0 start in the bowl season after Iowa stormed back to win a wild affair in Tempe, Ariz. Adam Rittenberg and David Ubben check in with instant analysis. Blog
Undermanned due to injuries and suspensions, Iowa (8-5) turned to Coker, a backup who had 403 yards and a touchdown during the regular season.
The bruising freshman had no trouble taking over for Robinson, running over and occasionally around the Tigers to set school records with 219 yards and 33 carries while scoring two touchdowns in front of an Insight Bowl-record 53,453 fans.
Behind Coker, Iowa piled up 425 yards against one of the nation's stingiest defenses to overcome two rare turnovers by Ricky Stanzi and win three straight bowls for the first time.
"We've been in a lot of close games -- in the past three years, actually -- and it's a lot more fun when they come out the right way," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "It's a credit to our players. They believe in themselves and prepared for this."
Missouri (10-3) had its way with Iowa's once-stout defense most of the night, rolling up 512 yards, including a school bowl record 434 passing by Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert finished 41 for 57 to set two more school records, but inexplicably threw the ball right to Hyde, who dodged several tackles and seemingly every Missouri player for the second-longest interception return in Insight Bowl history.
"I just got greedy," Gabbert said. "I forced it."
Missouri had one final chance, but a fourth-down reception at Iowa's 33-yard line by T.J. Moe with 2:15 left was overruled on review and Coker helped grind out the clock. Moe finished with an Insight Bowl record 15 receptions for 152 yards for the Tigers in their second straight bowl loss.
"I'm very disappointed," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "It is very difficult in the locker room with kids that you love and you have been through so much this year and you come out of a tough, close game and a loss."
Once fierce rivals, these teams hadn't met in a century, despite being separated by less than 250 miles.
The 12-game rivalry plagued by dirty play, riots and racial discrimination ended following a particularly brutal game in 1910, and a planned four-year series from 2005-08 also fell through, putting an interesting twist on this Midwest battle in the desert.
Missouri was looking to cap one of its best seasons, even after having its Big 12 and BCS bowl chances dashed with consecutive losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. The Tigers won their final three games to get into the Insight Bowl and were in position for their third 11-win season as a program.
Iowa had a different kind of momentum going.
After opening the season No. 9 in the polls, the Hawkeyes were plagued by injuries and an inability to close out games. They played most of the season without defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who had a foot amputated due to complications from diabetes, had five losses by a combined 18 points and entered the bowl having lost their final three.
Turned out to just be the prelude to their problems.
Since the regular season ended, the Hawkeyes have lost their career leading receiver, top rusher and two other running backs.
Receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was the first to go, booted off the team after being arrested on drug charges in early December. Robinson then was suspended for breaking team rules, and was arrested Monday night for marijuana possession, jeopardizing his career at Iowa.
Johnson-Koulianos and Robinson combined for 21 touchdowns during the season, which put more pressure Coker and wideout Marvin McNutt.
Neither seemed to be bothered by the added spotlight. McNutt hauled in a 49-yard catch on Iowa's first drive and Coker punctuated it with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Coker followed that by blowing through a big hole on the right side early in the second quarter for a 62-yard touchdown run -- Iowa's longest of the season -- that put the Hawkeyes up 14-3. He had 113 yards on 16 carries in the first half.
"He is a very good player, a very tough runner," Pinkel said.
Gabbert was doing what he does best going the other way, picking apart Iowa's defense with short and intermediate throws. He was 23 for 31 for 284 yards in the first half, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Grant Ressel in the first quarter and Henry Josey's 10-yard touchdown run that made it 17-10 in the second.
Gabbert had the Tigers moving again late in the half, but the drive ended when Brett Greenwood picked off a deflected pass in the end zone.
Coker and Gabbert continued to counterpunch in the second half.
Coker ran over Missouri linebacker Jarrell Harrison on a 35-yard run early in the third quarter, setting up Mike Meyer's second field goal, from 21 yards.
Gabbert kept winging passes all through Iowa's defense. He set up his 7-yard touchdown run, then followed the first of two interceptions thrown by Stanzi, who had four in 324 attempts in the regular season, by hitting tight end Michael Egnew on a 3-yard TD pass that put the Tigers up 24-20 heading into the fourth quarter.
After all those yards, Iowa finally held, getting the game-changing interception by Hyde and holding -- thanks to the review -- on Missouri's final drive to close out a tumultuous season with an impressive win.
"It feels great to finally close out a game," Hyde said.
It couldn't have come at a better time.
It was over when... A fourth-down catch by Missouri's T.J. Moe with 2:15 left was overruled on review, and Iowa held on.
Gameball goes to... Marcus Coker. The Iowa freshman ran over and through Mizzou for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat of the game... 72. Micah Hyde returned an interception 72 yards for the Hawkeyes' winning touchdown.
|3rd Down Conversions||8-15||6-11|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|TD||10:32||Marcus Coker 1 Yd Run (Michael Meyer Kick)||0||7|
|FG||03:53||Grant Ressel 23 Yd||3||7|
|TD||13:26||Marcus Coker 62 Yd Run (Michael Meyer Kick)||3||14|
|FG||07:28||Michael Meyer 34 Yd||3||17|
|TD||04:51||Henry Josey 10 Yd Run (Grant Ressel Kick)||10||17|
|FG||07:03||Michael Meyer 21 Yd||10||20|
|TD||04:34||Blaine Gabbert 7 Yd Run (Grant Ressel Kick)||17||20|
|TD||00:54||Michael Egnew 3 Yd Pass From Blaine Gabbert (Grant Ressel Kick)||24||20|
|TD||05:32||Micah Hyde 72 Yd Interception Return (Michael Meyer Kick)||24||27|