Insight Bowl: Mizzou, Iowa Coaches Discuss Arizona Hospitality In Final Press Conference
The Insight Bowl between the Missouri Tigers and the Iowa Hawkeyes kicks off tomorrow night. In the final press conference before the game, the head coaches of both schools talked a lot about the hospitality of Arizona and its citizens.
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With the Insight Bowl between the Missouri Tigers and the Iowa Hawkeyes kicking off tomorrow night, the media had one more chance to talk shop with the head coaches in the final press conference before the game.
Both Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spoke highly of the people and hospitality involved with the Insight Bowl, praising the ideal weather conditions. Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman poked fun at the cold temperatures in Columbia, Mo. and Iowa City before giving the coaches gift baskets in a photo op.
Picture by Jose Romero, SB Nation Arizona
The teams have had several days to practice and enjoy the nice weather of Tempe and Scottsdale, and the temperature tomorrow evening at game time will be mid-50s. As of last week, Iowa had only sold 6,000 of its 11,000 allocated tickets, but Hawkeye Nation is hoping for a big boost in attendance figures from their local alumni base.
The Insight Bowl is run by the same entity that is in charge of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and the hospitality that John Junker and his team present to the coaches and teams are one of the main reasons as to why the Insight Bowl is growing in prestige so rapidly.
When you contemplate the sunny weather, the top-flight accommodations and the ample options for leisure and relaxation, it's no surprise that Arizona-based bowl games are moving up the charts.
By increasing the Insight Bowl's payout this year, the bowl was able to improve the quality of its selections. Just last season, Minnesota and Iowa State played in this bowl, and an improvement is evident in 2010.
Missouri won 10 games this season and were very close to a BCS bowl berth. Iowa is a traditional power that travels well to bowl games. 50,000 fans are expected tomorrow night, which would be the biggest audience ever for the bowl.
Tomorrow night will be the first official step for the Insight Bowl as it ascends the bowl ladder. If this pace keeps up, the Insight Bowl will soon be one of the main targets for Big Ten and Big 12 schools at the start of the season. And that is very good for the state of Arizona.
Both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Missouri Tigers started the season 7-2 with an outside shot at a BCS bowl berth. But in the final three games of the season, these two schools went in completely opposite directions. Mizzou finished 10-2, sweeping Kansas State, Iowa State, and Kansas to finish 6-2 in the Big 12. Iowa lost three in a row to finish 7-5, with losses to Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota.
Both teams are led by accomplished quarterbacks, starting with Ricky Stanzi of Iowa. Stanzi completed 65% of his pass attempts for 2804 yards. The most telling statistic: he threw 25 touchdowns to four interceptions. Stanzi is a composed passer who has the experience and mettle to lead his team to victory.
Mizzou's quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, has taken a step down in productivity from 2009 to 2010. His best receiver, Danario Alexander, went to the St. Louis Rams after the 2009 season, taking his 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns with him. Gabbert immediately found a rapport with T.J. Moe, a stocky sophomore wideout who was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 at the end of the regular season.
Moe picked up 893 yards on 77 receptions, racking up six touchdowns in the process. The Tigers lack a clear-cut #1 running back, but utilize a "back by committee" approach, employing De'Vion Moore, Henry Josey, and Kendial Lawrence in limited roles. Gabbert is also a mobile quarterback, picking up 329 yards on the season.
This battle will come down to the defenses, as it so often does. Missouri is led on defense by Andrew Gachkar and Zaviar Gooden, a pair of linebackers that have combined for 160 tackles on the season. These guys are tackle machines and will play an important role in stopping Adam Robinson and the potent Iowa rushing attack.
Iowa is led by Jeremiha Hunter and Micah Hide on defense, but statistically speaking, the Tigers have a much better defense. Mizzou has 82 tackles for losses, while Iowa only has 51. Missouri has 38 sacks, Iowa only 20. Missouri forced 15 fumbles in 2010, Iowa only caused 6. These statistics don't lie, and it's clear as to why the Tigers are 10-2 and the Hawkeyes are only 7-5.
In the end, Ricky Stanzi will have to turn in an MVP-caliber performance to guide his team to victory against this savvy, solid Mizzou team. But after watching him lead his team to victory in the Orange Bowl last season, anything is possible for the senior gunslinger. But remember: Missouri had the ninth-toughest schedule in the FBS this season, yet still went 10-2. They are not a flash in the pan.