In just over two days, the Oklahoma Sooners take the field for their final test of the season against Iowa in the Insight Bowl.
OU has been in Tempe, Arizona since Sunday and with two days of practice under their belt they took some time Wednesday to talk to the media about their opponent.
"They've worked hard the days we've been here and I've been pleased with how they've worked coming into the game," said OU head coach Bob Stoops about the team's preparation thus far.
Oklahoma enters the game at 9-3 overall and 6-3 in conference, while the Hawkeyes are 7-5 on the year and 4-4 in Big Ten play.
For the Sooners, despite three losses already this season, they are focused on winning this game and closing out this year on a win.
"No one gets more disappointed that I do that we don't win—that's the competitive nature in you and that's just the way it is. The 10th win, or always to win the last football game make a difference whether it's your 9th, 10th or 11th whatever game it may be, they're all important," said Stoops.
For Coach Stoops, the Iowa football team is something very familiar to him as he played football there and spent five years there as an assistant.
Stoops says that even though he has a lot of emotional ties to his alma mater, it doesn't change his drive to win.
As far as the Hawkeyes go, Oklahoma knows that they aren't one of the Big Ten's top offensive threats for no reason.
"(Iowa) is a very disciplined, fundamentally strong football team," said Stoops. "They have a great offensive line like they've always had and they are tough running the football."
"There isn't a lot of tape on them. They still have an excellent offensive line and if they create space, I'm sure they have guys that will jump in that space and make things happen. You have to consider will they throw it a little more than usual, so we have to look at that and we will have to see how the game goes," added Stoops.
"They're a really solid team, really disciplined on defense and they do a good job of being gap sound as far as the run game and in coverage they don't let people by them or blow a lot of coverage," said OU quarterback Landry Jones. "They do their stuff and they do it really well and it's going to be a tough challenge for us to go against these guys."
"They're a big physical team, Big Ten teams usually seem to be more physical, but you can't only abide by their run, they also have a pass and some big play receivers," said Sooner defensive back Aaron Colvin.
"Defensively, they are very sound and disciplined and they make you work to beat them," said Stoops.
"Really they just have it all and they don't really make many mistakes. I don't think we have seen a team of this caliber of physicality with guys out there not making mistakes and big time receivers too," added Colvin.
Oklahoma is also focused on how well its defense has to play in order to come out victorious.
"The defensive side of the ball playing against Iowa will have to be extremely disciplined in their gap responsibilities. We've got to be physical in defending and getting off of blocks, you have to tackle well and along with the running game come the play action passes so we are going to have to see those and stay on top of receivers," said Stoops. "You have to play a good, sound game defensively to have a chance to win."
"Coming down here, we have something to prove to not only ourselves, but everybody else so our game faces have been on for two weeks now getting prepared for Iowa and we're going to try to go out there and perform," said Colvin.
The Sooners will have one of their stars back for the bowl game in Travis Lewis. Lewis was sidelined after he broke his toe August 8 during practice.
Related Story: OU's Travis Lewis Out With Broken Toe
"Travis has fought through that broken toe the entire year and finally feels good—it takes that long to heal. I'm sure it will matter to him, he has had excellent practices and that makes a big deal and allows him to change direction a little bit better, and lets him be a little quicker and I think it'll really help him."
Even though the Sooners goal was to be in the National Championship game at the end of the year, the Sooners know that what matters now is winning against Iowa and Coach Stoops says his team is going at that task like they do for every game in a season.
"They're looking at it like you do every time you have to play—you have to win. We've played football at Oklahoma for over 100 years and we have seven national championships and have played for it a number of other times," said Stoops. "Every year you aren't going to be in the national championship game, but you still have to try and win each and every game you play and that's what we're trying to do."
The Insight Bowl between Oklahoma and Iowa will kick off Friday Dec. 30 at 9 p.m.