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As the Big Ten was rather top-heavy this year with three teams leading the way, LSU gets stuck with one of the lower ones in Iowa due to its disappointing 9-3 season. Motivation could play a factor here for the Tigers, but they are still -7 point favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook in the Outback Bowl.
This isn't a great matchup for the Hawkeyes after finishing the season 8-4. They get to play a team with a better record from a better conference which doesn't bode well. Still, Iowa deserves to be here after beating Michigan and Nebraska in its final two games. In fact, the Hawkeyes don't really have a bad loss on the year, losing to the top Big Ten teams and also Northern Illinois in the opener. Their conference is having a down year, but that doesn't take away from Iowa's semi-successful season.
LSU was yet another one of the SEC teams that had hopes of playing in a BCS bowl this year. Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn't get the job done on the road, losing close games to Georgia (44-41) and Ole Miss (27-24). The Tigers were also the only team to beat Auburn this year, although that was back in September when no one thought Auburn was worth anything. Other home wins against Florida and Texas A&M stood out for the Tigers.
A reason this line isn't higher is likely because of LSU's quarterback situation. Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in the season finale and freshman Anthony Jennings will be getting his first career start in the bowl game. A freshman in his first career start doesn't scream cover. According to Les Miles, the Tigers won't change their offense as he has faith in his new QB.
Of course, LSU loves to run the ball which helps as RB Jeremy Hill finished with 1,185 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season. Terrence Magee will also see some work after he had five TDs in the last four games. Miles also said that Jennings is an accurate passer so if that bodes true, wide receivers Jarvis Landry (1,172 yards, 10 TDs) and Odell Beckham (1,117 yards, eight TDs) shouldn't have any trouble getting their usual numbers.
Iowa actually boasts a solid defense allowing just under 19 points per game on the season. The Hawkeyes didn't allow more than 34 points in any game which is respectable considering games against Northern Illinois, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Even if Mettenberger was at QB, this offense would still face some troubles.
The other end of the field also has a great defense, although LSU's numbers aren't as good. Of course, LSU faced some tougher offenses through the year like Georgia and Alabama. However, the fact that the Tigers stopped Texas A&M to 10 points in their second to last game shows how good they can be.
The Hawkeyes will also try and run the ball as much as possible. Mark Weisman isn't a game breaker at running back, but he is a bulldozer and has 938 yards and seven TDs. Quarterback Jake Rudock hasn't looked all that bad in his first season as the starter with 18 TDs and 12 INTs. He surprised a lot of people with how competent he's been in this offense. Of course LSU is a different task, but Rudock stayed strong in losses to MSU and OSU earlier this year. He doesn't have a stand out receiver which hurts, but tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (six TDs) is a guy to watch for in the red zone.
The majority of the money is coming in on LSU for good reason. The Tigers are a better team, but it's a wonder if some of the bettors even realize Jennings will be getting his first career start here. The Hawkeyes finished up a nice season and have some momentum, as well. Bettors at sportsbook.com favor LSU as 60% of the wagers in this one have come in on the Tigers.
The Hawkeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games. Iowa was also 5-0 ATS in all five of its road games this year. The Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
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