Outback Bowl preview: LSU vs. Iowa

12/30/13 in NCAAF   |   BlakeLovell   |   86 respect

Sep 28, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes fullback Mark Weisman (45) runs with the ball in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsThe 2014 Outback Bowl kicks off on January 1 at 1 PM ET on ESPN. The game will feature the 16th-ranked LSU Tigers (9-3, 5-3) taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, 5-3) in an SEC vs. Big Ten showdown in Tampa.

With that in mind, let's preview the game and look at the keys to victory for both teams:

LSU Players to Watch:

Anthony Jennings, QB - Following the season-ending injury to Zach Mettenberger, the true freshman must take over despite only throwing 10 passes all season. It will be quite the interesting matchup since Iowa's defense only allowed 18.8 points per game this year, so for LSU to win, Jennings needs to be effective in the starting role.

Jarvis Landry/Odell Beckham, WR - You have to put these two together because of what they accomplished this season. Both players went over 1,100 yards receiving thanks to Mettenberger's emergence as a star quarterback, and they will be the deciding factors in this one. If they can make big plays and keep Jennings from having to do too much, it will go a long way toward helping the Tigers capture victory.

Iowa Players to Watch:

The linebacker unit - The three-headed beast of Anthony Kitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey at linebacker is simply dominant. On the season, Kitchens had 102 tackles, Morris had 98, and Kirksey had 97. Not too shabby, huh? You can bet these three will be salivating at the opportunity to go against an unproven quarterback like Jennings.

Mark Weisman, RB - Weisman likes to go at defenders full force, so it will be fun to watch him against a physical LSU defense. He's more like a fullback in the way that he runs, and if he can keep pounding and pounding away for chunks of yardage, he should help open things up in the passing game for Jake Rudock and company.

LSU Key to Victory:

Pressure the quarterback. Rudock threw a pick in every game but two this season, which means that if LSU can get to him early and often, there's a good chance that mistakes will happen. It will also help Jennings on the offensive side by giving him a shorter field to work with as he tries to settle into the QB role.

Iowa Key to Victory:

Prevent the big playIowa is by no means an offensive juggernaut, which means they'll need some help from the defense. With playmakers like Landry and Beckham on the field, the Hawkeye defense must find a way to keep the LSU offense in check and not give Jennings any early momentum.

Prediction:

The problem for Iowa here will be scoring. Even though it may take a little while for the Tiger offense to get going, the LSU defense will be good enough to keep the Hawkeyes at bay. If you're a fan of offense, this one might be ugly to watch as both defenses are pretty formidable. Iowa isn't as big of an underdog as most expect them to be in this matchup, and they'll keep it close the entire way. Ultimately though, LSU finds a way to win.

LSU 24, Iowa 19

What are your thoughts on the Outback Bowl? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow @FanIQ or myself on Twitter!


 
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