Outback Bowl Preview

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Dec. 28, 2013

Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 • 1 p.m. ET • Tampa, Fla. • Raymond James Stadium (65,657)
ESPN • Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Series: Iowa leads, 1-0 • Last Meeting: Jan. 1, 2005: Iowa 30, LSU 25 (Capital One Bowl)

Iowa returns to the bowl scene with its fifth bowl berth in the last six seasons and will take on LSU in the Outback Bowl at 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1 in Tampa, Fla. The Hawkeyes will make their 27th postseason appearance overall, having won three of their last four bowl contests. It will be the fourth trip to the Outback Bowl for Iowa, having won in both 2004 and 2009.  Iowa and LSU have made a combined 69 bowl appearances. The Hawkeyes are 14-11-1 all-time, while the Tigers are 22-22-1 all-time in bowl games. Iowa is 11-11-0 all-time against the SEC, including a 4-2 mark in bowl games.

Iowa finished the regular season 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten.  The Hawkeyes, who finished in second place in the Legends Division, won four of their final five games, and finished with a three-game winning streak.  Iowa has recorded at least eight wins in four of the last six years.  After winning four games last season, Iowa is 8-4 and one of six BCS conference teams to have improved by four victories or more from a year ago.  

LSU will be making its second appearance in the Outback Bowl, with the first coming on Jan. 2, 1989 when it was known as the Hall of Fame Bowl. The Tigers fell 23-10 to Syracuse in LSU's only appearance in the bowl. LSU is also seeking to avenge its only meeting with Iowa, a 30-25 last-second loss on a Hail Mary pass in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. LSU enters the contest 9-3 overall, and the Tigers are searching for a 10th win of the season, which would give LSU a new school record with four straight 10-win seasons.  LSU, which handed No. 2 Auburn its only loss of the season, is ranked 14th in the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches Poll, and 16th in the BCS standings. The Tigers placed third in the SEC Western Division.

The Hawkeyes rated sixth in the Big Ten in rushing (188.6), eighth in total yards (389.0), ninth in scoring offense (27.3), and 10th in passing (200.4) this season.  Iowa scored 35 offensive touchdowns in the regular season and did so with a balanced attack.  The Hawkeyes found the end zone 18 times through the air while passing for 2,405 yards, and scored 17 times en route to 2,263 yards on the ground – the Hawkeyes’ highest single-season total since 2008.  Quarterback Jake Rudock has completed 195-of-324 pass attempts for 2,281 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also rushing 62 times for 223 yards and five scores.  His primary target on the year was Kevonte Martin-Manley, who leads the team with 39 catches and 384 receiving yards.  He is now 10th all-time in school history with 121 career receptions.  Rudock also prefers first-team All-Big Ten tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, who has recorded at least one reception in 30 consecutive games, a streak that ranks second among active FBS tight ends.  Fiedorowicz has 26 receptions for 253 yards and a team-high six touchdowns this season.  On the ground, running back Mark Weisman is just 62 rushing yards shy of becoming the 14th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. He has 938 rushing yards on 209 carries with a team-high seven touchdowns heading into the postseason. His 78.1 rushing yards per game rank 10th in the Big Ten.  Weisman’s counterpart, Damon Bullock, is a 1,000-yard career rusher and Iowa’s second-leading ground gainer (467 yards) and fourth-leading receiver (18 receptions) this year.

LSU finished the regular season ranked third in the SEC in defending the pass (200.8), fourth in total yards allowed (349.7), which also ranks 20th nationally, as well as fifth in scoring defense (22.7) and sixth against the rush (148.8) in the league.  Earlier this year LSU held Texas A&M to 299 total yards and 10 points, both of which were single-game lows in the two seasons Kevin Sumlin has been at the helm of A&M.  Entering the game the Aggies has been leading the SEC with 578 yards and 49.2 points per game.  The Tigers are led by All-SEC performers Lamin Barrow with a team-high 86 tackles at linebacker and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson with a team-leading 7.0 tackles for loss.


 

 

On offense, LSU was fourth in the SEC in rushing (265.1) and sixth in scoring (37.0), rushing (200.8) and total yards (465.9) during the regular season.  LSU is the first team in SEC history to feature a 3,000-yard passer (Zach Mettenberger), two 1,000-yard receivers (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry) and a 1,000-yard running back (Jeremy Hill) in the same season.  However, LSU will be breaking in a new quarterback against Iowa after Mettenberger went down with a season-ending injury in the regular season finale against Arkansas. True freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings will make his first start in the Outback Bowl, after he led LSU on a 99-yard game-winning drive against Arkansas. He will have three All-SEC players who have racked up more than 1,000 yards to help him succeed in wide receivers Beckham Jr. (1,117 yds, 8 TDs) and Landry (1,172 yards, 10 TDs) – the first receiving duo to each eclipse 1,000 yards in school history – and Hill (1,185 rushing yards, 14 TDs) in the backfield.  Hill, who ranks second in the SEC in rushing with 107.7 yards per game, is averaging 6.8 yards per carry.  He has produced six 100-yard rushing games in his last 10 contests, including four out of his last seven games.   LSU's 5,591 yards of total offense is the most through the first 12 games of a season in school history, while the team’s 3,181 passing yards rank fourth in single-season school history.

QUICKIE
STATS

Scoring
Offense

Scoring Defense

Total Offense

Total Defense

Rushing Offense

Rushing Defense

Passing Offense

Passing Defense

Turnover Margin

Iowa

27.3

18.8

389.0

303.2

188.6

120.8

200.4

182.4

+1

LSU

37.0

22.7

465.9

349.7

200.8

148.8

265.1

200.8

-2

Iowa finished the regular season ranked third in the Big Ten in points allowed (18.8) – a mark that also ranked 11th nationally – as well as second in pass defense (182.3), third in total yards (303.2), and fourth against the rush (120.8).  With LSU averaging 200 yards on the ground, Iowa will look to contain the Tigers’ attack and make them the 11th opponent the Hawkeyes have held below their season average this year.  The Iowa defense has allowed five rushing touchdowns in 2013, tied for the lowest total in the nation with top-ranked Florida State.  The Hawkeyes have also been tough in the red zone, allowing just 13 touchdowns inside the 20-yard-line this year.  On the other side, LSU’s offense has scored 35 red-zone touchdowns.  Iowa’s strength comes from the linebacker position.  Senior James Morris is the only Big Ten player this season to record at least 90 tackles, four sacks, and four interceptions.  His 8.2 tackles per game ranks eighth in the conference.  He has six career interceptions, including four this season, and 8.5 career sacks.  Morris, along with fellow linebackers Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens, have accounted for 10 takeaways this season.  Kirksey has one interception, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble, while Hitchens has three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one pick.  Additionally, defensive back B.J. Lowery and safety Tanner Miller have three interceptions each on the year.

On special teams, Iowa averages 15 yards per punt return, the sixth-best average in the country, while LSU leads the nation in punt coverage, allowing just 0.91 yards per return.  Iowa’s Martin-Manley leads the Big Ten and ranks seventh in the nation in punt return average (16.22) as he has recorded 292 yards and two scores in 18 returns this season.  LSU’s Beckham Jr., the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, has accounted for 2,222 all-purpose yards with 107 touches (5 rush, 57 rec., 14 punt ret., 30 kickoff ret., and 1 missed FG ret.) this year.  He leads the SEC and is third nationally in all-purpose yards with 185.2 per game, and ranks third nationally with an average of 20.8 yards every time he touches the ball.