Outback Bowl – Iowa Hawkeyes vs #18 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Defense is the Name of the Game
The final day of bowl games for the 2018-19 college football season starts at noon on Jan 1 with the Outback Bowl. The game, which is played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, has the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, 2nd Big Ten – West) at the #18 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4, 4th SEC – West). Our Outback Bowl free pick offers the Bulldogs at anywhere from -6.5 to -7.5. The over/under on the game is 40.5 to 41.0.
Mississippi State had an overall solid season, starting with three straight nonconference wins. Then two straight conference losses to Kentucky and Florida were followed by three SEC games against nationally ranked teams, #8 Auburn, #5 LSU, and #16 Texas A&M. In those games, the Bulldogs went 2-1, losing only to LSU. MSU’s only other loss through the rest of the season was 24-0 to #1 Alabama. The Hawkeyes won six of their first seven games. The only loss was 28-17 to #18 Wisconsin. In their final five games, Iowa went 2-3, losing three straight including a 30-24 beating by #17 Penn State. They finished their regular season by beating Illinois and Nebraska.
Mississippi State – Analysis
Our Outback Bowl free pick notes that the Bulldogs defense is one of the best you’ll find anywhere. They allowed 12.0 PPG, while scoring 29.1 PPG. They created 402 YPG of offense with 226.4 YPG in rushing, while allowing opponents 268.4 YPG, with 164.2 YPG in passing.
Senior QB Nick Fitzgerald passed for 1,615 yards while rushing for 1,018. He tossed 15 TD passes, while rushing for a dozen more scores. Together Kylin Hill and Aeris Williams ran for close to 1,200 yards while scoring a total of seven touchdowns. The top pass catchers on the team, Stephen Guidry and Osirus Mitchell, have 18 and 24 receptions respectively and a combined total of 750 yards. Guidry had three TD catches and Mitchell four.
The Bulldog D notched 36 sacks, 12 INTs, and 45 PD. They made over 85 TFL. DE Jeffery Simmons and DT Montez Sweat posted 15.5 and 14.0 TFL respectively. Sweat also recorded 11.5 sacks. Safety Johnathan Abram topped the team with 93 tackles. He also notched 2.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL, two INTs, five PD, and one FF.
Iowa – Analysis
Iowa had similar numbers to those put up by MSU. However, their points allowed on defense were a bit more generous, as they gave up 17.4 PPG. At the same time, the Hawkeyes scored on average 31.5 PPG. Their offense averaged 389.7 YPG with 227.7 YPG in the air and 160.0 YPG on the ground. The Iowa D allowed opponents 289.6 YPG to opponents, which included 186.8 in passing.
Junior QB Nate Stanley tossed 23 TD passes while throwing nine interceptions. He completed 58.6% of his passes for 2,638 yards. Tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant have 46 and 39 receptions respectively. Hockenson has six TD catches and Fant seven. Our Outback Bowl free pick notes that the Hawkeyes have two talented running backs, Mekhi Sargent (152 ATT, 748 YDs, 4.9 YPA, 9 TDs) and Toren Young (133 ATT, 630 YDs, 4.7 YPA, 5 TDs).
The Iowa defense posted over 65 TFL and 34 sacks. They also nabbed 18 picks and defended 43 passes. In the secondary, DB Amani Hooker leads the team with four picks and seven PD. Top performers upfront include DE Anthony Nelson (11.0 TFL, 9.5 SCKs) and DE A.J. Epenesa (15.5 TFL, 9.5 SCKs).
Five Keys to the Game
- Both bring tough defenses to the game
- MSU rush attack is their bread-and-butter
- Iowa bring a balanced attack
- Turnovers could be huge
- Little scoring should be in order
Our Outback Bowl Free Pick
Our Outback Bowl free pick is MSU at -6.5 We do think they’ll take this game by about a TD or perhaps 10 points. We’re also going with the under at 41.0. This should be a defensive battle. There are four more games today with the final one being the Allstate Sugar Bowl between Texas and UGA at 8:45 pm ET. To link to all of our bowl picks please click right on this link