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Big Ten Bowl Preview: Outback Bowl


TEAMS: Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) vs. 16 LSU (9-3, 5-3 SEC)

TIME: January 1st, 1:00 p.m. EST

 TV: ESPN

This year’s edition of the Outback Bowl features an interesting matchup up between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the LSU Tigers. On paper, considering the fact that LSU is from the SEC and ranked 16th in the nation, this game doesn’t look like it’ll be much of a contest. However, LSU will be playing with out quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was lost to an injury in the regular season finale. Still, Iowa is the clear underdog and will look to make a statement for the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes did not start off very well in 2013, losing three of their first seven games. However, the three losses came against three bowl teams: Ohio State, Northern Illinois and Michigan State. They were able to rebound and finished the season with three-straight wins over Purdue, Michigan and Nebraska.

Iowa ran the ball well this season behind leading rusher Mark Weisman, who ran for 938 yards and seven touchdowns. Damon Bullock and Jordan Canzeri both pitched in over 400 yards on the ground this year. As far as the passing game, quarterback Jake Rudock leads the way for the Hawkeyes. He threw for 2,281 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Nationally, the Hawkeyes ranked near the bottom, No. 92, in passing yards.

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While the offensive was mediocre this season, the defense was solid and kept the Hawkeyes in games. Iowa ranked 11th in the country, allowing just 18.8 points a game. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens paced the team with 102 total tackles. He also added two sacks and an interception. Fellow linebacker James Morris added 98 total tackles and led the team with 14.5 sacks. Morris could be considered the unit’s MVP, as he also led the team with four interceptions.

For LSU, this will be the first game with a quarterback other than Mettenberger in two years. The senior will be difficult to replace, as he put up huge numbers this season, throwing for 3,348 yards and 22 touchdowns. Replacing Mettenberger will be Anthony Jennings. He only attempted 10 passes this year, completing six of them for 99 yards.

Jennings, though inexperienced, will be able to throw to two talented receivers. Jarvis Landry caught 75 passes for 1,172 yards and 10 touchdowns. Odell Beckham had 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns. Both talented receivers should help with the transition of a new quarterback.

On the ground, LSU ranked 32nd in the country, gaining 200.8 yards a game. Sophomore Jeremy Hill led the way on the ground, rushing for 1,185 yards with 14 scores. He’s a very talented runner who will make it tough for the Hawkeyes on defense. Teaming up with Hill in the backfield is Terrence Magee, who added 614 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, the Tigers rank 29th in the nation, giving up just 22.7 points a game. Linebacker Lamin Barrow led the team with 86 total tackles. Cornerback Jalen Mills was third on the team with 61 total tackles, but led with three interceptions. 

Prediction

The Hawkeyes are going to have their hands full on defense with the speedy Tigers from the SEC in this one. If Iowa wants to have a shot, the defense is going to have to come up with turnovers and key stops. It would be easy to think that LSU will struggle on offense with a new quarterback, but the talent of the rest of the offense is just too good. I’m not expecting this one to be very close at all. Iowa may make it a game early, but won’t be able to hang with the quicker Tigers later in the game.

Iowa 10  LSU 31

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Tags: Big Ten Capital One Bowl Football