The Iowa Hawkeyes and Oklahoma Sooners will do battle Friday night in the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. As storied as these two franchises are, they’ve only met once, back in 1979 in Norman, Okla., with the Sooners coming out on top 21-6.
Sooners head coach Bob Stoops met with the media Thursday afternoon to talk about the game. Stoops said his team is as ready as they’ll ever be for the Hawkeyes.
“I am very pleased with the work of our players and just their attention to being on time to everything,” Stoops said. “I feel like we have taken the necessary steps in these days to give ourselves an opportunity to play well.”
The Sooners were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll, but failed to live up to that ranking, losing three of their final six games after starting the season 6-0.
Stoops said he’s not disappointed in the way his team finished the season, and that every year isn’t a championship year, even for Oklahoma.
“In the end, not every year things are going to work that way,” Stoops said. “Whether it is a certain break here or there or injuries or what not, or you just didn’t play as well and you catch a team that’s hot. That’s going to happen.”
Oklahoma has 16 seniors on its roster, so needless to say there will be quite a bit of turnover and new faces in important positions in 2012. Stoops already sees the younger players on the roster stepping up and assuming the leadership role on the team, and that’s encouraging to him.
“I just think they sense those guys on their way out and, hey, my opportunities are going to be bigger and I ought to be able to – again, guys that are doing it the right way realize, hey, I ought to step up and be a leader,” Stoops said.
Iowa running back Marcus Coker will not suit up tomorrow night. Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz suspended him for breaking an unspecified rule. Stoops doesn’t take for granted the fact that Coker won’t be out on the field for Iowa.
“What I see is an excellent offensive line and tight ends and a quarterback in front of that guy that play really well,” Stoops said. “I’m sure they will find guys that if they have space, they will be able to jump in and make something happen.”
Junior quarterback Landry Jones and his future in Norman, Okla., is on every Sooner fan’s mind, whether he decides to stay or go into the NFL. Stoops is prepared for whatever Jones decides to do.
“In the end, we wanted to do what he feels in his heart is best for him,” Stoops said. “And then, if it is coming back, obviously you have more experience and that’s great. If not, then you make adjustments and you move forward.”
Oklahoma is a huge double-digit favorite in the game, but Stoops isn’t concerned with point spreads; he just wants to win the game.
“I don’t care what it (point spread) does,” Stoops said. “I just got to win. We just got to win. We just got to play well.”
“That’s what I put all my thoughts into,” Stoops said. “It doesn’t matter.”