New Year’s Day action continues with the Outback Bowl from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL featuring the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) of the Big 10 taking on the 16th ranked LSU Tigers (9-3) of the SEC in an early afternoon game (1:00 pm ET). Iowa closed the regular season with a 38-17 win at Nebraska to finish with a three game winning streak that also saw them defeat Michigan (24-21) and Purdue (38-14) in conference play. LSU also finished strong defeating then 12th-ranked Texas &M (34-10) and Arkansas (31-27) at home to end the regular season.
Iowa ranks 79th among FBS teams in total offense with 389 yards per game and 74th in scoring offense with 27.3 points per game. Quarterback Jake Rudock has thrown for 2,281 yards with 18 TDs and 12 INTs for the Hawkeyes, and running back Mark Weisman leads the team in rushing with 937 yards (4.7 YPC) and 7 TDs on the ground. Wide receivers Kevonte Martin-Manley (39 receptions, 384 yards) and Tevaun Smith (24 receptions, 310 yards) also contribute for Iowa. The Hawkeye defense ranks 7th nationally in total defense with 303.2 YPG allowed and 11th in scoring defense with 18.8 PPG allowed.
LSU ranks 26th among FBS teams in total offense with 465.9 yards per game and 21st in scoring offense with 37 points per game. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has had an outstanding season for the Tigers with 3,082 yards passing with 22 TDs and 8 INTs, but unfortunately he tore his ACL in the win over Arkansas and will not be available for this game. Freshman Anthony Jennings will start in his place. Running back Jeremy Hill has accumulated 1,185 yards rushing and 14 TDs to lead the team, and wide receivers Jarvis Landry (75 receptions, 1,172 yards, 10 TDs) and Odell Beckham Jr. (57 receptions, 1,117 yards, 8 TDs) may be the most productive receiving duo in the country. LSU ranks 20th nationally in total defense with 349.7 YPG allowed and 30th in scoring defense with 22.7 PPG allowed.
Iowa vs. LSU Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Iowa Hawkeyes +7.5
@ LSU Tigers -7.5
Over 49 (-110)
Under 49 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Iowa vs LSU Pick
Iowa is 6-2 ATS in its past 8 bowl games and went 5-0 ATS away from Iowa City this season. The Tigers have more talent on both sides of the ball than the Hawkeyes, and despite the loss of Mettenberger they still have plenty of talent on offense to attack Iowa’s tough defense. Jeremy Hill, who averaged 6.8 YPC, tore up Auburn, the SEC Champions in their only loss this season and should be able to take some of the pressure off of the Tigers’ young QB Jennings. Jennings also has 2 outstanding receivers to lean on, and Iowa, while strong against the pass, has not been tested by the type of speed they will see in this game.
The Hawkeyes losses came against the upper-echelon Big 10 teams in Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State. Hill can attack the Iowa defense much the way Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde did in running for 149 yards and 2 TDs, and the superior strength and athletic ability of LSU will wear down the Hawkeyes late in the game. Iowa does not have the type of skill position players to challenge an athletic team like LSU, or the firepower to come back from a deficit. Take LSU in this one as their talent and athleticism will be too much for the plodding Hawkeyes to handle.