Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 16 LSU Tigers (9-3 SU, 5-6-1 ATS)
College Football Outback Bowl
Date and Time: Wednesday January 1st, 2014. 1:00PM Eastern
Where: Raymond James Stadium Tampa, F.L.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IA +7.5/LSU -7.5
Over/Under Total: 49
Over the past few years, the Outback Bowl committee has provided some of
the best postseason college football match-ups. Two years ago Georgia and
Michigan State battled through 3 overtimes before Sparty pulled out a 33-30
victory. Then last year South Carolina defensive end JaDeveon Clowney had
college football’s Play of the Year with the ‘hit’ that helped propel the
Gamecocks to a come from behind victory in the waning minutes over Michigan.
Hopefully the trend continues this year with another promising Outback Bowl
pairing when the Iowa Hawkeyes meet the no. 16 LSU
Tigers inside Raymond James Stadium.
The 16th ranked Tigers battled through some defensive woes along with one of the toughest schedules in college football to earn a 9-3 SU mark on the season. While it may have been a subpar season for the lofty expectations that Les Miles has instilled on the Bayou, LSU still put together a rock solid 2013 campaign. Not only did LSU capture 3 victories over teams ranked inside the Top 20 but they also were the only team to beat a 11-1 Auburn team that will be playing for the BCS National Championship. LSU will be 7.5 point favorites over Iowa when both teams meet on New Year’s Day. If the Tigers can succeed, it will mark their 4th straight 10 win season and their 7th 10 win season overall in the Miles era.
Ironically this game will feature the strengths and weaknesses of both teams squaring off against each other. Iowa has struggled offensively this season averaging just 389 total yards (79th in FBS) and 27.3 (75th in FBS) points per game. Yet the Hawkeyes will get the chance to square off against an LSU defense that has had well documented struggles this season. Not only did the Tigers give up big point totals in all of their losses but they also posted a subpar effort in their season finale against Arkansas which left some lingering concerns. On the other side of the ball, LSU’s wealth of offensive talent will square off with the strength of Iowa’s football team which is the Hawkeyes’ defense.
LSU’s offensive talent is enormous and possibly the most ever under Miles tenure. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been solid this season completing 65% passing for 3,082 yards with 22 scores and 8 picks. Running back Jeremy Hill has posted 1,185 yards with 14 scores on the ground. Not to mention the Tigers have two receivers that have 1,100 plus yards in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Both receivers have also caught 18 combined touchdowns passes. Obviously the offensive talent for Miles is abundant but Iowa’s defense has been equally impressive this season as well.
The Hawkeyes defense alone has kept the team competitive this season despite the offensive woes. Iowa owns the 7th best defense in the country yielding just 303 total yards and the 11th best scoring defense in the country giving up just 18.8 points per game. Additionally Iowa has allowed just 5 rushing touchdowns all season which is the best mark in college football. I believe this Iowa defense has the talent to stifle LSU’s potent offense but they will must get some help from their own offense to pull off an upset.
If that is going to happen, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock must protect the football. Rudock has been solid this year but he has also given up a bunch of turnovers primarily through interceptions. The sophomore quarterback has tossed 18 touchdowns with 12 picks on the season. The offense will lean heavily on junior running back Mark Weisman to keep the chains moving. Weisman is a big bruising runner that may play as a fullback at the next level. However Iowa must get a strong performance from Rudock to complement their running game if anything special is going to happen.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I fully expect this game to stay under the posted total of 49. I think this could be a really low scoring first half as both teams’ defenses control the early match-ups. Things may heat up in the 2nd half but it will still stay under the mark. Take the under 49.
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