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Who has the edge? Hawkeyes or Sooners?

[ 2 ] December 29, 2011 |

HAWKEYES RUSHING

Iowa may have had trouble running the ball against an Oklahoma defense that allows just 139 rushing yards a game even before Marcus Coker was suspended for violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. But with his 281 carries and 1,384 yards missing, only a miracle will provide the Hawkeyes an edge in this department. It’s happened before – like last season, when Coker became a household name after rushing 33 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns during an Insight victory against Missouri. He had 81 pre-bowl carries in ‘10. Friday’s possibilities have combined for just 39.

Advantage: Oklahoma

Iowa quarterback James Vandenburg (16) will not have Marcus Coker (34) to hand the ball off to on Friday night. (West Lafayette Journal & Courier photo)

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HAWKEYES PASSING

Texas Tech and Baylor combined for 937 passing yards in victories against Oklahoma, but they’re teams with top 10 nationally passing offenses. Iowa checks in at No. 57, and to compound matters for the Hawkeyes, the Sooners can concentrate on the pass. There’s no proven rushing game, so all the focus can be on what James Vandenberg does. Defensive end Frank Alexander is 18th in the nation in sacks, averaging just less than one a game. “They’ve got great athletes,” Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe said. “There’s speed everywhere on that team.”

Advantage: Oklahoma

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SOONERS RUSHING

Insight, we have a problem. Don’t look now, but the Sooners aren’t in great shape at running back, either. Top rusher Dominique Whaley hasn’t played since the seventh week of the season, leaving Roy Finch and Brennan Clay to carry whenever Landry Jones doesn’t pass. Finch, though, likely is as good as most backs the Hawkeyes have faced, and unlike Iowa’s back-by-committee, he’s at least carried the ball 105 times for 601 yards. Finch will run against a defense that has allowed 159.5 yards a game, 64th nationally.

Advantage: Oklahoma

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SOONERS PASSING

Landry Jones has averaged 358.5 passing yards a game while completing 339 of 537 passes for 4,302 yards and 28 touchdowns. His top target, Ryan Broyles, won’t play due to injuries, and neither will No. 3 receiver Jaz Reynolds. They combined for 124 of the Sooners’ 349 receptions, 1,873 of 4,381 receiving yards, and 15 of 28 touchdown catches. “Even though they have plenty of guys that are injured and not playing, they still have plenty of guys that can step up,” Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater said. “Their quarterback — he can throw the ball right on the button.”

Advantage: Oklahoma

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SPECIAL TEAMS

Oklahoma freshman Michael Hunnicutt has missed just three of 23 field-goal attempts, and he’s 4-for-4 beyond 40 yards. He made four against Iowa State, and he made a career-long 53-yarder against Kansas State. Iowa’s Mike Meyer is 14-for-20, but he’s made just two of his last six attempts. Punters for both teams have been inconsistent, while both teams have potential return-breakers. Hawkeye kick returner Jordan Bernstine vowed to return a kickoff for a touchdown before he turns in his cleats. Friday night is his last collegiate opportunity.

Advantage: Oklahoma

 

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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