By now the Iowa football team knows the routine and they’re just fine with it.
The Hawkeyes (7-5) are back in the Valley for the second-straight year preparing to take on the 14th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (9-3) Friday in the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium.
Last season Kirk Ferentz’s team edged Missouri and eventual first-round pick quarterback Blaine Gabbert 27-24.
“Much like last year we’re facing a tremendous opponent,” Ferentz explained. “We face another team with an outstanding quarterback in Oklahoma and Landry Jones. We’re awfully excited about that match-up, it’s going to be a great challenge.”
Jones, a junior, hasn’t announced if he’s going to enter the draft next spring after throwing for over 4,300 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker was asked if Jones reminds him of any current NFL quarterbacks.
“Yeah, Tom Brady,” Parker said. “The guy is a great quarterback. When he’s hot, he’s hot. You just hope that you can defend him.”
Offensively, the Hawkeyes will be without star sophomore running back Marcus Coker who was suspended for violating the university’s student-athlete code of conduct. Coker was the Big Ten’s second-leading rusher rolling up 1,384 yards and 15 scores.
Coker burst onto the national scene rolling up 219 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri in Tempe.
The Hawkeyes are hoping their depth can help fill the void left behind by Coker’s post-season suspension.
“We have plenty of guys that can fill that spot and it’s really a great opportunity for them,” junior quarterback James Vandenburg said after practice this week. “They’ve been working really hard every day to get comfortable and they’ve been doing a real nice job.”
The Sooners are also making their second-straight trip to Phoenix after rolling Connecticut 48-20 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl back on January 1.
Kickoff is set for shortly after 8:00 with television coverage on ESPN.