Outback Bowl Matchup:Iowa Hawkeyes vs. LSU Tigers
Date/Time: January 1st, 1:00 PM ET
Spread: LSU -7
Here at Bang the Book, we are always keeping our eyes open for the best games to bet on each and every week. Of all of the games on the docket for the third week of the bowl season, the one we are zeroing in on is the Outback Bowl, where the LSU Tigers take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at 1:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 1st.
Many are going to be shying away from the Outback Bowl this year because there are much better and seemingly more competitive bowl games going on in Jacksonville and in Orlando going on at the same time on New Year’s Day. However, we think that this is one of the best betting opportunities on the board, and we are looking forward to taking advantage of it.
The Hawkeyes and the Tigers are both looked upon as teams which routinely play ‘under’ games. This year though, that just hasn’t been true. Iowa went 8-4 for ‘over’ bettors, while LSU went 9-3 for those same ‘over’ backers. The 17 combined ‘overs’ makes this one of the most likely ‘over’ games of the bowl season, something which you’d never think about.
The Big Ten is routinely one of the lower scoring conferences in America, but when it comes time for bowl games, the conference is allowing over 38 points per game to teams from the SEC since the start of the 2000s. Even when these two teams met in the Capital One Bowl in 2005, there were 55 points which hit the scoreboard.
However, that’s all a matter of history, and we’re about the here and now. Most still don’t believe that Iowa averaged over 27 points per game this year. The team scored at least 38 in two of its last three games, and it’s not like doing so against the Nebraska Cornhuskers is that much easier, especially on the road, than it would be to do so on LSU on the relatively fast track of Raymond James Stadium.
QB Jake Rudock did a nice job of keeping control of the football this year, and we expect that he is going to ultimately be able to do the same here in the Outback Bowl as well. He did only have 18 TDs on the campaign, and the team only put together a total of 35 offensive touchdowns. Along with that, there wasn’t a single receiver with even 40 catches, nor was there a receiver with more than 384 yards on the campaign. In the end though, the points amassed quick enough for our liking, especially in the Big Ten. It isn’t easy to score 24 on the Ohio State Buckeyes or to put up even 14 on the Michigan State Spartans.
But the real kicker to this game is the wild card known as QB Anthony Jennings. We might have been onboard with the ‘under’ had QB Zach Mettenberger been playing, but we think the idea of a freshman quarterback in the Outback Bowl is actually going to help matters. The kid has only thrown 10 passes in his career, but he is going to be thrown into the fire against a great Iowa defense. Still, it’s tough to game plan for what you can’t see in advance.
Remember that Mettenberger only broke his ankle in the last game of the season. Jennings is a lot more mobile and will bring a new dimension to this game for the Bayou Bengals. The difference between this year’s team and the teams of the past is the fact that the offense has looked a lot more dynamic with OC Cam Cameron calling the shots. Giving Cameron four weeks to prepare with a new toy which he hasn’t had to call upon much this year could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Tigers over the hump and onto the scoreboard quite a bit.
There also has to be a level of frustration for the LSU offense in these last two bowl games. The team never made it past midfield against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game, and it only scored 24 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl last year against the Clemson Tigers. This could be the year which all that frustration goes away.
The ‘over’ has cashed in five straight Iowa games outside of the Big Ten, while the LSU trends are much stronger. The ‘over’ went a perfect 4-0 in LSU’s four non-conference games this year, and the ‘over’ is 10-2 in LSU’s last 12 games played on natural grass. Though the ‘under’ is 4-1 in the Tigers’ last five bowl games, this is still a game where we think we can take real advantage of a soft number. Bowl games are traditionally a bit higher scoring in nature, and this one will be no exception. Expect both teams to get into the mid-20s, as this game pushes into the 50s to keep the Outback Bowl a relatively high scoring affair.
College Football Pick of the Week: Over 49
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.