Oklahoma's defense has one final opponent to face in the 2011 football season and possibly a shot at redemption. No, they can't redeem what has been a disappointing end to a troubled season but they do have the chance to redeem themselves from the standpoint of ending 2011 on a positive note. Perhaps that might even instill some hope in the future among the fan base.
Iowa won't spread the field and pass the ball all over the field but they will attack Oklahoma with a lot of power. They won't be putting a ton of speed on the field but they will bring a physical attack and try to overpower the Sooner defense.
The Hawkeyes' offense runs through the hands of quarterback James Vandenberg who averages 30 passing attempts per game and completes nearly 60% of them. He's averaging 13 yards per completion and has 23 touchdown passes to 6 interceptions. He's not particularly mobile but makes smart decisions with the football.
Among Vandenberg's top targets are wideouts Marvin McNutt and Keenan Davis. McNutt leads the team in every receiving category and has hauled in 78 passes for 1,269 yards and 12 touchdowns. Davis is directly behind McNutt in every single one of those categories and is averaging 14.2 yards per reception.
The Iowa passing attack was the fourth most potent attack in the Big Ten and may be looked upon to play a bigger role than normal this season because of the issues at running back. Leading rusher Marcus Coker has been suspended for the bowl game and rumors are swirling that backup Mika'il McCall has apparently left the team after being suspended for the regular season finale against Nebraska. That puts De'Andre Johnson as Iowa's leading rusher coming into the game with 18 carries for 79 yards. Iowa actually appears to be in worse shape than Oklahoma at running back.
The offensive line is where the rubber meets the road and Oklahoma has to win this battle to win the game. The line helped to pave the way for Coker to average 4.9 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns. Who knows what will take place in the rushing attack with Coker's absence but no doubt the line will do their part.
Pass protection may be an area where Oklahoma can make a push. The Hawkeyes gave up 26 sacks in the regular season and with the possibility of more passing attempts and a new running back to pick up blocking schemes it could be advantageous for OU to pressure the quarterback.
This won't be a game of finesse on either side of the ball and the Sooners must bring a relentless defensive attack that's hard hitting and wraps up. The other possible advantage here is that Iowa may be forced to be one dimensional in their attack due to the running backs.