It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but for the Oklahoma Sooners, it was a win any way you sliced it.
Riding a hard-hitting defensive performance and the bruising strength of the Belldozer package, the Sooners downed the Iowa Hawkeyes, 31-14 Friday night, in front of an Insight Bowl record crowd of 54,247.
OU only gained 275 yards of offense for the game, including only 89 yards in the first half but it was the defense and the special teams units that really pushed the Sooners forward, even when the offense was out of sync.
The Sooners also benefited from long kickoff returns by sophomore Trey Franks and a first quarter interception that set the offense up inside the Iowa 10-yard line.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Bell garnered MVP honors after rushing 10 times for 51 yards and three touchdowns, including a 21-yard icing on the cake with under a minute to go.
In just seven games this season, Bell racked up 13 touchdowns on the ground.
There were a lot of questions about just how motivated the Sooners would be to be playing in the Inisight Bowl, after beginning the season as the No. 1 team in the country and thoughts of another national championship.
Head coach Bob Stoops said team preparations since mid-December had been intense and positive and praised his team for their mental approach.
“We’ve started some steps in what we’ve done and what we’re doing as a program,” Stoops said. ” And these guys have been awesome. They really went hard and they prepared well.”
Even though it was just the Insight Bowl, it was a cleansing of sorts for the Sooners. Since the Bedlam beatdown, OU has been cleaning house to an extent, with the transfer of several players. Stoops said before the bowl game it was a positive thing because two percent of the team wasn’t taking up 90 percent of his time.
Expectations probably won’t be as high in 2012 for Oklahoma, but the Sooners are an elite college football program and with that label, comes the unspoken expectations of a national championship every year.
Although it may not seem like the Insight Bowl did a lot for OU, it really did. 2012 will prove that.