Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
The LSU Tigers didn’t expect their regular season to end the way it did in 2013 without their star quarterback for the bowl game. After a 9-3 year and a pretty solid run in the SEC, the Tigers look to be one of the toughest matchups for any team out there.
It was a relatively successful season for the Iowa Hawkeyes as they finished the season strong with an 8-4 record and one of the best bowl games, the Outback Bowl, that a team from the Big Ten can get.
The Tigers have been one of the most solid three-loss teams in the nation and it was devastating to see their starting quarterback in Zach Mettenberger go down with an ACL injury that effectively ended his season and career with the school. While the team will miss Mettenberger as he is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation with over 3,000 passing yards and 22 touchdowns, Anthony Jennings might be a very overlooked dual-threat QB. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham will give the freshman quarterback some help, combining for 2,289 yards and 18 touchdowns. Jeremy Hill leads the rushing attack with 1,185 yards and 14 touchdowns.
On the other side of the field, Iowa has been known for making the Outback Bowl and the 2013 season is no different, making their fourth appearance in the game since 2004. Sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock has been one of the most impressive young quarterbacks in the conference, passing for 2,281 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season while looking like a solid veteran. However, no receiver has stepped up as the clear No. 1 and the most disappointing has been Kevonte Martin-Manley who was supposed to take the next step this season but hasn’t, catching 39 passes for 384 yards and four scores. Mark Weisman leads the solid run game, rushing for 938 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes are led by a tremendous trio of linebackers that make them one of the best defensive units in the Big Ten. Iowa ranks 11th in points against and ninth in yards allowed per game this season. The Tigers have been known for defense in years past and have been solid once again in 2013, ranking 27th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed per game.
Iowa and LSU will face off in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: LSU 30, Iowa 21
Related: Iowa Hawkeyes Return to Outback Bowl
NFL Draft Stock of Zach Mettenberger Takes Major Hit with Torn ACL
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.