The Outback Bowl is right around the corner. While it may not be the bowl game Iowa and LSU fans were hoping for at the beginning of the season, it'll still serve as a nice way to send out the seniors and get another glimpse at the guys who could step in and play a much bigger role in 2014.
With Zach Mettenberger on the sidelines, it's Anthony Jennings' time to shine (again) for the Tigers. Jennings had a memorable debut against Arkansas and now faces an Iowa defense ranked 11th in scoring defense. And The Valley Shook says that's the key storyline to watch for in Tampa.
1. Assess Anthony Jennings. Yeah, we know he made one hell of a first impression. Certainly made one on Paul. But what can he do for a full game? This spring will be probably feature the best quarterback competition LSU has seen in some time, and Jennings has a chance to stake his claim to the QB1 spot and give us a better view of his strengths and weaknesses as that spring begins. How LSU can help him out and adapt to his skillset are things we'll address as we get closer to game time.
As for LSU's gameplan with Jennings moving forward, look for the Tigers to continue running the football early and often. Here is PSD's scouting report on Jennings.
I EXPECT LSU TO STILL BE A RUN FIRST OFFENSE. Their strength is their top two running backs Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee. LSU will use a shotgun formation and also variations of the I-formation, or power running game. If Iowa can't stop LSU's rushing attack from the I-formation, expect a lot of play action bootlegs and roll-outs for Jennings. He'll likely get a moving pocket from the shotgun formation too, giving him both run and pass options. LSU has, perhaps, the best duo of wide receivers in the country. They won't stick to just roll-outs and drag routes off the play action. They will go deep down field to either of their two speedster wide receivers.
Black Heart Gold Pants says it's always a good idea to bet on Kirk Ferentz once bowl season rolls around. They took an in-depth look at the program's success in recent years, breaking it down by the numbers.
There's not one stat you can point to and say "here, this is why Ferentz wins bowl games." It's about equal parts motivation and preparation. Iowa's destruction of Georgia Tech is the poster for Iowa's preparation for bowl games. While Iowa dominated that game statistically, ultimately, the proof lies in the final score.
Iowa takes on LSU on Jan. 1 The Tigers are currently a 7-point favorite over Iowa. That's the third largest spread of Ferentz's 11 bowl games (Oklahoma 14, Texas 9) and LSU is without its starting quarterback and will replace him with a freshman with 10 career passing attempts.
The Hawkeyes may not beat the Tigers, but if history is any indicator, a healthy Iowa team is a good bet in bowl season.
And finally, Outback Steakhouse may just reconsider sponsoring this game in years to come if players, coaches and staff members continue to eat the way they did this year:
Statistical Breakdown of the 5,000-pound Outbacchanalia
* 750 pounds of sirloin steak (doused in 40 gallons of Diablo Sauce)
* 750 pounds of chicken
* 900 pounds of ribs
* 700 pounds of house salad
* 400 pounds of baked potatoes
* 1,600 coconut shrimp
* 160 bloomin' onions
* 1,600 dinner rolls
* 1,200 pounds of cheese cake
* 80 gallons of barbecue sauce
Five thousand pounds of food. 5,000. That's a whole lot of steak, and it's a safe bet that no one will be hungry come New Year's Day.