TEMPE, Ariz. — It was brushed off as happenstance, but Marvin McNutt did almost get hit by a camera from the sky.
Yeah, that happened.
It happened in the fourth quarter. A Skycam overhead camera that was wired above the field slipped loose and narrowly missed the Iowa wide receiver. The wire that holds the camera did clip McNutt’s arm.
“First I looked: What is it that fell out of the sky,” McNutt said. “The next thing I know, the line from the camera kind of scratched me. It was just pulling me and I knew I didn’t want to keep going with it.”
The camera fell too late to officially be considered an omen in Iowa’s 31-14 Insight Bowl defeat to No. 19 Oklahoma before a bowl-record crowd of 54,247 at Sun Devil Stadium. The camera would’ve had to fall before the Hawkeyes (7-6) fell behind 21-0 with 7:42 left in the third quarter.
The Hawkeyes rallied to within 21-14 on James Vandenberg’s 9-yard TD pass to freshman running back Jordan Canzeri with 6:56 left in the game. But then the camera fell and Oklahoma (10-3) scored two more TDs and that was it for the Insight Bowl.
Oklahoma quarterbacks did all the damage. Blake Bell, the 6-foot-6, 245-pound runner, rushed for three TDs and was named the game’s MVP. Landry Jones, the NFL prospect, completed 16 of 25 for 161 yards, an interception and a TD.
“There is just no denying anyone that uses the quarterback running game,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “You get the extra blocker when the quarterback runs the ball. It makes a huge difference.”
Iowa couldn’t dent Oklahoma’s defense.
The Hawkeyes ran 20 more plays than the Sooners (82-62), but gained just 282 yards and averaged 3.44 yards a play. That’s a season-low, lower than the 3.95 yards a play the Hawkeyes generated during a 13-3 loss at Penn State.
With sophomore running back Marcus Coker and his 1,384 yards sidelined due to university suspension, the Hawkeyes tied the season-low for rush yards with 76. Iowa’s 2.1 yards per carry was its worst since 1.12 in a 34-27 loss at Arizona in 2010.
Iowa unplugged itself several times with penalties, drops and a Vandenberg interception in the first quarter that led to OU’s first TD.
“A game like that, you’re playing a good defensive team like that, you need every play,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The yards came tough tonight, and unforced errors is something we can’t afford.”
Canzeri, a 5-foot-7, 172-pound true freshman, filled in for Coker and had moments. He gained 58 yards on 22 carries and caught six passes for 28 yards.
Without Coker, Iowa tried to stay Iowa. The Hawkeyes strived for balance and tried to run the zone running plays that Coker runs. It hurt Iowa in short-yardage situations. The Hawkeyes also found a little rhythm late with a splash of the no-huddle, sparking a TD drive that was capped Vandenberg’s 5-yard TD pass to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
McNutt went into the game needing eight catches to top Derrell Johnson-Koulianos’ career receptions record of 173. Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming, who picked off Vandenberg in the first quarter, stayed step-for-step with McNutt most of the night.
McNutt caught four passes for 46 yards. He finished his career with records for receiving yards (2,861), TD receptions (28) and finished with 170 receptions.
“It was great to be a part of the tradition here at Iowa,” McNutt said. “Maybe I’ll reflect that in a few more days. Right, now it just doesn’t feel good to lose.”
But really, too many overhead cameras were falling from the sky and onto the Hawkeyes.
Linebacker James Morris left the game with an ankle injury in the first half. Offensive tackle Markus Zusevics couldn’t shake a bout of the stomach flu and was sidelined before halftime. Vandenberg suffered a head injury late in the fourth quarter.
When a Skycam nearly falls on the best receiver in school history, file it under “you know it’s not your night.”