The Outback Bowl is one of the less talked-about January bowls this year, but should be an intriguing matchup. It features two teams who are trying to gain premier status, one that has momentum and one that is fading.
Iowa struggled to a 3-3 record early, but then went on to win five of its last six, including a 55-0 blowout at Minnesota and a 24-23 upset win over then-No. 3 Penn State.
South Carolina, meanwhile, cruised to a respectable 7-3 record—until being blown out by Florida, the Old Ball Coach's former team, and being embarrassed by rival Clemson.
If the Hawkeyes win, it should help carry them into next year and put them into the conversation for the Big Ten title. If South Carolina wins, Steve Spurrier will finally erase a cloud of question marks over his head and it should help the confidence of the Gamecocks' young quarterbacks greatly.
Let's break it down:
When Iowa Runs the Ball: Iowa
Shonn Greene is the best running back in the country. Period. South Carolina does have a good run defense and this won't be another 200 yard day for Greene, but he should easily reach the 100 yard mark for the 13th time this season and add a touchdown or two to go with it.
When South Carolina Runs the Ball: Iowa
Like most Steve Spurrier teams, this is not a run first offense. The Gamecocks have struggled to run the ball all year and this game shouldn't be different. The Gamecocks face one of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten and one that rivals most teams nationally. Linemen Mitch King and Matt Kroul should be able to handle the Gamecocks with ease.
When Iowa Passes the Ball: South Carolina
This is the strength of the South Carolina defense. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has done a great job filling the quarterback position this year, but, once again, Iowa is a run-first team. Normally they do get some good gains off of the play action pass, but as far as regularly passing, South Carolina should have the edge.
When South Carolina Passes the Ball: Iowa
The defensive backfield was a question mark for the Hawkeyes coming into the season, but this young corps really stepped up. Middle linebacker Pat Angerer leads the Big Ten in interceptions and he should rack up a few more against South Carolina's interception-prone offense.
AJ Edds should add some help along with cornerback Amari Spievey, who returned to Iowa after fixing academic issues, and freshman and sophomore safeties Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood, who have done a great job stopping the big play for the Hawks.
Special Teams: Iowa
Andy Brodell has done a good job returning the ball, while the kicking combination of Daniel Murray and Trent Mossbrucker has worked well for Iowa. The Hawks have also blocked their fair share of punts and kicks this year and punter Ryan Donahue has done well, with a career long of over 80 yards.
Coaching: South Carolina
Kirk Ferentz has done a good job handling pressure and getting the Iowa program back together, but it's tough to go against Steve Spurrier. The Old Ball Coach should have some tricks up his sleeve to try to fire up this slumping South Carolina squad.
Iowa has a lot of momentum heading into this game after their upset of Penn State and their blowout at Minnesota to end the regular season. South Carolina is slumping and will be using a freshman quarterback and will be without star safety Emanuel Cook.
Prediction: Iowa, 24-10
Shonn Greene should be productive as usual and the Gamecocks shouldn't be able to get anything going offensively against a tough Iowa defense. Greene runs for 150 yards and two touchdowns while Stanzi throws for one and Iowa cruises to the easy victory.