It's tough to gauge this game because it's all about attitude. For sure, playing in this bowl is a huge disappointment for everyone involved with the Sooners. Just dealing with failing to win the Big 12 and meeting preseason expectations is hard enough, but there seems to be more percolating this year.
Depending on how you interpret the stories on the interwebs, you could conclude that the Sooner psyche in in total disarray with all the player angst and defections that have happened or may take place. It's not a fun time when there's not a positive vibe in the locker room. The effect is huge and it short circuits any game plan or athletic ability a team may have. It always starts when there's a bit of adversity (the Texas Tech loss). It's apparent that the Sooners themselves were lacking in composure. The causes for this are innumerable, but it's undeniable that OU had deficiencies in this area. It festered a bit too long and contributed to the 9-3 regular season the Sooners had to settle for.
Or, if you're a glass-half-full type of person, then you believe head coach Bob Stoops when he says he's just trimming the fat off the Sooners and there's not a difference in how he runs the team. This holds some water considering all the players that have not traveled with the team to Scottsdale weren't big-time contributors. If there really are players who are not living up to their end of the bargain, cutting classes and missing meetings and workouts, then a purge is needed. The Sooners are in a serious need of an attitude adjustment, and getting rid of people that contribute to that is necessary.
The Sooners have the players to beat Iowa, easily, but that doesn't mean that they will. For all the reasons above and more, the Sooners are capable of laying a big egg in the desert.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are playing without their leading rusher Marcus Coker (280 carries, 1384 yards) and quite possibly without backup Mika'il McCall. This bodes well for the Sooners as they have not experienced a power running team all season long. This will allow the Sooners to key on the decent Hawkeye receiver corps led by Marvin McNutt, Jr. (78 catches, 1269 yards).
Playing in the Big Ten, Iowa hasn't had to face many spread passing attacks. When the Hawkeyes did (Northwestern), they gave up the most passing yards all season (342). So there's definitely room for Landry Jones to do some work. Wide receivers Kenny Stills, Trey Franks and Kameel Jackson need to step up and not have so many dropped passes that plagued the Sooners in their last two losses.
Outcome: The Sooners play for pride and leave behind that bad attitude shown at the end of the season. The offensive line is able to protect Landry and give him time to hit his receivers. The Sooner defensive line is able to pressure Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg enough so that he can't compensate for his lack of running game. Sooners win, 37-23, in a game where the OU is a little bit more impressive than the score indicates. This would be a great first step towards a reinvigorated 2012 squad.
An incredible bout of attrition has hit the Sooner running backs. What looked like the deepest position on the team in the preseason is now easily the thinnest. Only Roy Finch and Brennan Clay remain, although fullback Trey Millard could hoof it if he had to. This should be adequate for one game, but none of those guys are cut out to carry 25 times a game.
The receivers need to step it up in a big way. This means no dropped passes whatsoever. This group must carry the Sooners.
The front seven shouldn't have any problem with the debilitated Hawkeye running game, but you never know. If the Sooners are sleeping, Vandenberg can keep this interesting. It's really up to the Sooners to give this one away.
Outcome: During this season, anything is possible. The Sooners have had their two worst defensive performances ever this year. If the Sooners wallow in their funk, they will have no sting, and the state of Iowa could have two upsets to provide the nation. If Ron Paul can win in Iowa, the Sooners could surely suffer one of their worst losses (again) in school history. Iowa upsets the Sooners, 24-23, and the loudest wailing since John Blake commences throughout Sooner Nation.