Hawkeyes rally past No. 14 Missouri
Iowa snatches late victory behind defense, ground game
The Associated Press
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Micah Hyde ran around, even behind the Missouri Tigers. Fill-in freshman Marcus Coker ran right over them.
Coker ran for 219 yards and two scores, and Hyde scored on a meandering, 72-yard interception return in the fourth quarter to help Iowa beat No. 14 Missouri 27-24 in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday night.
Undermanned due to injuries and suspensions, Iowa (8-5) turned to Coker, who had 403 yards and touchdown as Adam Robinson's backup during the regular season. The bruising freshman had no trouble taking over with Robinson gone to a suspension, setting school records for yards and carries (33) in front of an Insight Bowl-record 53,453 fans.
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 while running backward and sideways before racing up the sideline for the second-longest interception return in Insight Bowl history.
Missouri had one final chance, but a fourth-down reception 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.
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 had five losses by a combined 18 points and entered the bowl having lost their final three games.
Turned out to just be the prelude to their problems.
Since the regular season ended, the Hawkeyes have lost their all-time 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. Running back Robinson then was suspended for breaking team rules, and was arrested Monday night for marijuana possession, jeopardizing his career at Iowa.
Promising running back Jewel Hampton also decided to transfer and fullback Brad Rogers was out to undergo cardiological tests.
Johnson-Koulianos and Robinson combined for 21 touchdowns during the season. Their loss put more pressure on 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 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.
Gabbert was doing what he does best going the other way, picking apart Iowa's defense with short and intermediate throws. He was 12 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, this time from 21 yards.
Gabbert kept winging passes all through Iowa's defense, setting up his own 7-yard touchdown run, then followed the first of two interceptions thrown by Iowa's Ricky Stanzi - he 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.