Outback Bowl 2014, Iowa Hawkeyes vs. LSU Tigers: TV Info, Predictions and More
It was a streaky season for Iowa. It was a freaky season for LSU.
That should make for an interesting Outback Bowl matchup.
Iowa lost its season opener to Northern Illinois, then proceeded to reel off four straight victories. Then followed a stretch where the Hawkeyes lost three of four.
Finally, Iowa righted the ship and won its last three games over Purdue, Michigan and Nebraska to enter the Outback Bowl on an upswing.
Talent-laden LSU entered the season with a lot of questions on defense, but confident that the four and five-star talent the Tigers have been recruiting would keep them in the national championship conversation.
However, the Tigers lost a 44-41 shootout at Georgia and a 27-24 heartbreaker at Ole Miss. The only other loss was a 38-17 setback at Alabama.
The Tigers resume includes victories over Texas A&M as well as BCS title game participant Auburn.
Date: Jan. 1
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Place: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Keys to Victory for Iowa
Iowa is a running football team, so establishing the run against LSU will be important.
While teams have had success running the football against the Tigers, Iowa will need to mix in the pass effectively to make it work because LSU's defense has improved as the season has progressed.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes will have to be prepared to stop a very powerful LSU running attack.
If Iowa is going to pull the upset, it will also need to outplay the Tigers on special teams and win the turnover battle.
Keys to Victory for LSU
The key for LSU will be the play of freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings, who will get the start ahead of injured senior Zach Mettenberger (knee) in the bowl game.
Jennings turned in an impressive performance in relief of Mettenberger in the regular-season finale against Arkansas.
If the Tigers get their running game going, Jennings should have an easy day of it.
LSU's defense, in turn, needs to stop Iowa's running game.
Players to Watch for Iowa
Iowa relies on the running game, and the top player there is running back Mark Weisman. Weisman has rushed for 937 yards and seven touchdowns on 208 carries.
Quarterback Jake Rudock has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 2,281 yards and 18 touchdowns, but has also thrown 12 interceptions.
Kevonte Martin-Manley is the Hawkeyes' top receiver and is also a threat on punt returns.
Defensively, starting linebackers James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey are the team's top three tacklers and have combined for 297 stops.
Players to Watch for LSU
LSU's tailback tandem of Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee have the ability to make it a long day for the Iowa defense.
All eyes will definitely be on freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings, who looks to take another step toward solidifying his status as next year's starting quarterback.
Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are LSU's top receiving threats.
LSU cornerback Jalen Mills is tied for third on the team in tackles with 61 and leads the team in interceptions with three.
The game itself probably means more to Iowa.
LSU, not so much. The Tigers are used to competing for a national championship, and at the very least, a BCS bowl trip.
LSU will likely use this game as an early prep for next season, so expect a youth movement.
Even so, the Tigers have a big talent edge over the Hawkeyes, and that should carry the day.
LSU 35, Iowa 17.