By Will Martin
Iowa Hawkeyes vs #16 LSU Tigers
Wednesday – January 1 – 12:00 PM
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa
New Year’s Day in Dallas is calling for sunny and 62 degrees for another local bowl game. That won’t be the case when the Hawkeyes of Iowa (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) take on the Tigers of LSU (9-3, 5-3 SEC). 70 with the probability of showers.
The best way to describe the Tigers style of play is pure balance. LSU will play in its 14th straight bowl game with a ranking of #21 nationally while averaging 265 yards a game passing and 200 yards rushing. Good enough for 33rd in the country.
Zach Mettenberger was the fulcrum to that level of balance. His season came to a crashing end in November when suffering a knee injury on November 29th. A day LSU held off Arkansas 31-27.
The hopes of LSU fans now fall on Anthony Jennings. This will mark a start for someone other than Zack since the 21-0 loss to the Crimson Tide in the 2012 BCS Championship Game. No concerns for LSU coach Les Miles.
“The good news is that the quarterback has been preparing all along,” coach Les Miles told the school’s website. “We’re not in a position that we have to change a lot. We will run our offense just the way it is. That will benefit him because that is what he has been doing the entire year anyways.”
Should Anthony Jennings have any problems throwing the ball look for him to look to Jeremy Hill. A running back with 14 touchdowns and a 6.8 yards per carry average.
When you talk about the Iowa Hawkeyes the theme is defense, defense and more defense. Names like Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey having wreaked havoc all season for Iowa despite a rough start.
“They did not get dismayed when we were 4-3; they improved and turned the corner and had a good season, a very enjoyable season,” according to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz. “Our guys have a lot of fun together, they take a lot of pride in what they do, and that is the type of team that is fun to coach.”
There’s a little history here too. The last time these two teams met was in the Capital Bowl of 2005-Nick Saban’s last game as the Tiger coach-a game Iowa won 30-25 when Drew Tate threw a 56-yard pass to Warren Holloway for a touchdown as the game ended.
Should Iowa win this New Year’s Day game the Hawkeyes will improve to 6-2 against the SEC. Running back Mark Weisman agrees.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. We had a pretty good regular season and we want to finish strong with a good game against a good opponent,” said Weisman.” You get to play a very good team, that’s what you want in college football. You want to play good competition in a bowl game.”
If weather is an issue for the ground game I give it to the Hawkeyes in a low scoring affair. 20-19 with field position being the story of the game.