Mississippi State vs. Iowa Outback Bowl Pick
No. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Outback Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Tuesday January 1st, 2019. 12:00PM (EST)
Where: Raymond James Stadium Tampa, F.L.
Point Spread:MSST -7/IOWA +7
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Outback Bowl has historically produced intriguing pairings between quality opponents from the SEC and Big 10 which have provided great football games. This year’s pairing should be no different when the no. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs meet the Iowa Hawkeyes at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for a New Year’s Day showdown. At 8-4 SU, the Bulldogs and Hawkeyes have both proven to be formidable competitors in arguably the toughest conferences in college football. However, the SEC has shown to have the upper hand in these Outback Bowl match-ups over the last several years, and the Bulldogs will be 7 point favorites to keep that trend alive on New Years.
SEC has won 5 of the last 6 Outback Bowl games
In recent years, the SEC has shined in these Outback Bowl postseason pairings winning 5 of the last 6 games. The only SEC loss during that period was a 34-31 when Wisconsin outlasted Auburn after an overtime thriller in 2014. If you consider the Big Ten’s bowl success in recent years, it makes this Outback Bowl trend more surprising. Last year, the Big Ten went 7-1 in postseason bowl games which was the best mark of any conference in football. The lone loss was a 26-19 defeat by South Carolina over Michigan in a game where the Wolverines squandered a 16 point lead. Therefore from a conference match-up perspective, the SEC has held the upper hand in recent years and honestly throughout the Outback Bowl’s history.
Iowa makes 6th Outback Bowl appearance under Kirk Ferentz
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz’s 19-year tenure with the Hawkeyes is the longest active tenure in college football among head coaches. Ferentz has maintained a level of success that Hawkeye fans never experienced previously in school history. Among the many accomplishments under Ferentz’s watch, Iowa will be making their 6th Outback Bowl appearance during his tenure. Ferentz is 2-3 SU in his previous 5 trips to Tampa including losses in each of the last two trips in 2016 and 2013. If we look outside the Outback Bowl, the Hawkeyes are just 1-5 in their last 6 postseason appearances. Needless to say, none of those trends are promising for Iowa fans especially in this perceived underdog role against a Mississippi State team that closed out the season by winning 4 of their last 5 games.
Mississippi State vs. Iowa match-up breakdown
This Outback Bowl pairing may not provide the most postseason fireworks. The Hawkeyes and Bulldogs both have somewhat “vanilla” offenses anchored by outstanding defenses. The Hawkeyes own the 11th best scoring defense in the FBS yielding just 17 points per game meanwhile the Bulldogs have the no. 1 ranked scoring defenses that has held opponents to just 12 points per game on the year. Considering Iowa leans towards a more mediocre rushing attack on offense, I see the Bulldogs defense having a big upside in this match-up. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley is decent but largely inefficient. Therefore, expect tailbacks Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young to carry the bulk of the workload.
Considering the fact the Bulldogs defense has allowed less than 3 yards per rush attempt, I think Iowa is going to have some extreme difficulty moving the football. Likewise, I don’t expect the Bulldogs offense to find things easy against a solid Iowa defense. However, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald provides some added challenge to the Hawkeyes defense with his running ability. The Bulldogs love to keep defenses on their heels with RPOs and direction schemes. Ultimately, I just see the Bulldogs creating more scoring opportunities in this game because they have more angles in their offensive attack to be successful.
Mississippi State vs. Iowa betting trends
The Hawkeyes sport a solid 7-5 ATS record this season, but they have failed to cover in each instance as an underdog (0-3 ATS). The Hawkeyes are just 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as underdogs and only 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. Iowa has hit the ‘over’ in 8 of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, Mississippi State has maintained a solid 8-4 ATS mark including covers in 4 of their last 5 games. The Bulldogs have hit the ‘under’ in 9 of their 11 games thus far this season.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Mississippi State -7