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December 23, 2010

Insight Matchups: Offensive Line

Missouri and Iowa are set to meet for the first time in 100 years. Leading up to the December 28th Insight Bowl, we will give Tiger and Hawkeye fans an in-depth look at every position on the field.

Each day until kickoff, we will highlight a different position on the field. PowerMizzou.com publisher Gabe DeArmond and HawkeyeReport.com publisher Tom Kakert will give fans the scoop on the key players to watch as the Tigers and Hawkeyes hook up for the 2010 season finale.

Hawkeyes Offensive Line
Projected starters: LT: Riley Reiff, LG: Julian Vandervelde, C: James Ferentz, RG: Josh Koeppel, RT: Marcus Zusevics

Key Player: Riley Reiff

Key Stat: The Iowa offensive line has given up 20 quarterback sacks this season.

Analysis: The Hawkeye front five on offense was the biggest question mark heading into the 2010 season, having to replace several starters, including NFL first round pick Bryan Bulaga. With three new starters up front, Iowa's offensive line probably exceeded expectations with overall solid pass protection and opened up running lanes on a consistent basis. Iowa isn't going to be flashy up front. They do a good job of communicating with each other and in the run game, they execute the zone blocking scheme at a pretty high level. James Ferentz did a very good job as a first year starter at center and the left side of the line was the most consistent when it came to the running game, led by Reiff and Vandervelde. Right guard has been a bit of a revolving door due to injuries. Josh Koeppel is the third starter at the position this season.

Tigers Offensive Line
Projected starters: LT: Elvis Fisher, LG: Jayson Palmgren, C: Tim Barnes, RG: Austin Wuebbels, RT: Dan Hoch

Key Player: Elvis Fisher, who will be matched up with Clayborne most of the night.

Key Stat: 194. The Tigers ran for an average of 194.6 yards in their last three wins, including two games of more than 200 on the ground.

Analysis: The Tiger line was thought to be Pinkel's best before the season. It struggled mightilty against Nebraska, but played well most of the year. Fisher and Hoch are strong on the edges and Barnes is an all-Big 12 center and likely NFL Draft pick in April. The guard spots were question marks before the season, but Wuebbels and Palmgren both played well. Penalties were a problem from time to time, but not as much so as last season. The line's ability to slow down Iowa's front four will likely be the most important matchup of the game.

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