LSU set for Outback Bowl matchup with Iowa

Kyle Riviere
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The LSU football program has been so successful over the past decade that to many fans, it's national championship or bust, but a game in a New Year's Day bowl is certainly nothing to scoff at.

After another exciting year in Baton Rouge that delivered many ups and a few more downs than Tiger fans are used to, LSU is set to make a trip to Tampa to start the new year. It's there that they'll face the 8-4 Iowa Hawkeyes.

It's no coincidence Iowa is a four-letter word. After what happened in 2005, any mention of the school brings back foul and heart-wreching memories that still torment many LSU fans during this time of year.

That hurt goes back to the 2005 Capital One Bowl when the Tigers were taking the field for the final time under Nick Saban.

LSU fell down 24-12 late. That's when a young JaMarcus Russell came in and led the Tigers in a furious rally that saw them score 13 unanswered points to take a 25-24 lead with less than a minute remaining.

The Hawkeyes then stomped on the hearts of the Bayou Bengals and their fans.

Just like LSU had done to Kentucky back in 2002, Iowa scored on a Hail Mary as time expired to give Iowa the shocking 30-25 victory that still gives Tiger fans nightmares till this day.

This No. 14 LSU squad is hoping they won't have to go through the same agony this time around.

Iowa finished the year on a three-game winning streak and landed at No. 2 in the Big 10's Legends Division only behind Big 10 champs Michigan State.

The Hawkeyes will not wow anyone with their offense, but they rank as one of the best defenses in the nation. They only give up 19 points a game--which ranks them 11th nationally.

The usually high-powered Tiger offense will have to attack that stout Iowa unit a little short-handed.

Just last week, Zach Mettenberger was found to have a torn ACL--which he suffered in the fourth quarter of LSU's thrilling come-from-behind win against Arkansas.

The senior quarterback's college career is now over. He ends the year with over 3,000 yards passing, a 65 percent completion percentage, 22 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.

With Mettenberger out, the freshman Anthony Jennings will be expected to step up if the Tigers want to win.

Jennings looked impressive in his relief duties against Arkansas--going 4-7 for 76 yards with the game-winning touchdown pass and an additional 26 yards rushing.

However, now he'll have to do it for a whole game against a solid Iowa defense in his first ever start.

As Jennings gets his first full-time action, it's the last time we'll see many of the Tigers donning the purple and gold.

LSU seniors Alfred Blue, J.C. Copeland, Lamin Barrow and Craig Loston will all be playing in their final games.

Many other underclassmen may be playing their final games like: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill, Josh Williford, Anthony Johnson and Ego Furgeson.

This marks LSU's first ever trip to the Outback Bowl and their first New Year's Day bowl since 2010 when they lost to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.

The Tigers are desperate for a postseason win. They have uncharacteristically lost two straight bowl games and three of their last four.

Other bowls that feature SEC teams include:

Music City Bowl

Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech

Liberty Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Rice

Chic-fil-A Bowl

No. 21 Texas A&M vs. No. 24 Duke

Gator Bowl

No. 22 Georgia vs. Nebraska

Capital One Bowl

No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 19 Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 11 Oklahoma

Cotton Bowl

No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State

Compass Bowl

Vanderbilt vs. Houston

BCS National Championship

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 1 Florida State