2014 Outback Bowl: Iowa Hawkeyes to play LSU in Tampa

Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa returns to January football for the first time since 2010.

The Iowa Hawkeyes will play LSU in the 2014 Outback Bowl on New Year's Day in Tampa, Fla., as reported by Scott Rabalais of The Advocate Sunday:

Iowa had been widely projected to take the Big Ten's spot in the Outback Bowl, ever since defeating Nebraska 38-17 on Black Friday.  The win, Iowa's third consecutive victory, gave the Hawkeyes an 8-4 overall record, the program's first winning record in conference play since 2009, and a fairly strong claim to the Big Ten's fourth bowl spot.  When Michigan State and Ohio State put themselves in position for BCS spots, Iowa's trip to Tampa became largely inevitable.

Obviously, Iowa last played LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, a game that ended in a comfortable, drama-free Hawkeye win.

Nick Saban left for the Dolphins after that game, and Les Miles has been at the helm in Baton Rouge since.  The possibilities of clock mismanagement in this game are staggering, and Miles' propensity for trickeration stands against Iowa's general susceptibility to such tomfoolery.

The Tigers, who finished this season 9-3 and ranked No. 14, will be without quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Arkansas in the Bayou Bengals' finale.  They are likely to start freshman Anthony Jennings, who has attempted all of 10 collegiate passes.  Running back Jeremy Hill will be the focus of Phil Parker's preparation.  Hill has 1,185 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, and is expected to declare for the NFL Draft after the Outback Bowl.

Iowa last played in the Outback Bowl five years ago, when Shonn Greene led the Hawkeyes to a 31-10 win over South Carolina, then declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft before he'd gotten back to the locker room.  This will be Iowa's fourth appearance in the game, moving the Hawkeyes into a tie for the second-most appearances in the 27-year-old bowl game.  In 2004, Iowa halfback Fred Russell won the MVP in a 37-17 rout of Florida.  In 2006, an Iowa fourth-quarter comeback fell short when a successful onside kick was overturned on a phantom offsides call, with the Hawkeyes losing 31-24 to the Gators.

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