Jan. 1, 2014
By JAMES ALLAN
TAMPA, Fla. -- It was a dog fight until the final play, but when the final whistle blew, No. 14 LSU celebrated a 21-14 victory over the University of Iowa football team in the 2014 Outback Bowl inside Raymond James Stadium.
"LSU made a lot of big plays today and did what they had to do to get the victory," said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. "It was a hard fought game out there. I am proud of our football team, they competed hard today. We came up short today, but credit them."
LSU's Jeremy Hill was tabbed the Outback Bowl MVP after rushing for 216 yards and two touchdowns, carrying the load for an Tiger offense that was without the services of starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Freshman signal caller Anthony Jennings completed 7-of-19 attempts for 82 yards in his starting debut.
LSU outgained Iowa, 302-233, in the game. The Hawkeyes finished with 157 passing yards and 76 on the ground on 37 attempts. Sophomore Jake Rudock completed 9-of-22 passes for 102 yards before leaving the game at the end of the third quarter after re-aggravating a knee injury. Freshman C.J. Beathard played the fourth quarter, finishing 4-of-7 for 55 yards with his first career touchdown pass.
"Their defense made it tough on us," said Ferentz. "They made it tough for us to move the ball consistently. We did a little better job in the second half, and it was a good defensive game. Both teams were playing good defense, and sometimes that's what happens when good teams get together."
Junior Mark Weisman rushed for 37 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown, while sophomore Jordan Canzeri gained 34 yards on seven attempts. Senior C.J. Fiedorowicz had a team-high four catches for 46 yards.
Senior Anthony Hitchens had a team-high 10 tackles (seven solo, three assists), while seniors James Morris and B.J. Lowery had eight and seven tackles, respectively. Junior John Lowdermilk tallied his first career interception, which he returned 71 yards.
After mustering 73 yards in the first half, the Hawkeyes nearly matched their total on their opening drive of the second half, but still came away empty handed. Iowa converted three third downs on the drive, moving the ball into the red zone.
Rudock connected with sophomore Jacob Hillyer on consecutive third-and-10s. The first was a 23-yard reception to the 48 before snagging a 16-yarder to move Iowa to the LSU 37 -- Iowa's first time in Tiger territory in the game. On third-and-1 from the 28, Weisman rushed for seven yards up the gut to the 21. After the drive stalled, senior Mike Meyer missed a 35-yard field goal attempt wide right, keeping the score 14-0 in LSU's favor.
The Tigers proceeded to move the ball to midfield mainly due to a one-handed 29-yard snag by Odell Beckham, Jr., to the Iowa 48. Three plays later, Jennings overshot tight end Travis Dickson on third down pass in the middle of the field, where Lowdermilk was waiting to intercept the attempt before returning it 71 yards to the 1/2 yard-line.
Lowdermilk's return was initially ruled a touchdown, but the play was overturned via instant replay when it was determined he dropped the ball at the 1/2 yard line before crossing the plane. On the third play of the drive, Weisman bailed Lowdermilk out, scoring from 2 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter.
On his first full possession under center, Beathard led the Hawkeyes to midfield before Iowa turned the ball over on downs. The redshirt freshman completed 2-of-3 passes on the series, including an 8-yarder to senior C.J. Fiedorowicz into LSU territory. After a 1-yard loss by Weisman on third-and-2, Iowa elected to attempt a fake punt on fourth-and-3, where Weisman was stopped 1-yard short.
"You have a choice there, you can try to pin them in down there again and play field position," said Ferentz. "We figured we'd take a shot. If you make it, it's the right decision, if you don't it's the wrong decision. We felt like it was the look we were looking for, and we didn't convert it."
After bottling up Hill and getting the ball back for the offense, Beathard guided the Hawkeyes deep into LSU territory. Canzeri opened with rushes of 4 and 5 yards to the 29 before Beathard followed with an 11-yard scamper on third-and-1 on a bootleg to move the chains. On the next play, Beathard connected with Duzey for 35 yard gain to the LSU-25.
After back-to-back Weisman rushes moved Iowa into the red zone, Beathard was stopped for no gain on third-and-1 before being picked off on a designed bootleg on fourth-and-1 by Craig Losten. Hill then went to work.
The running back rushed three times for 50 yards to move into Iowa territory and keep the clock moving. After a pair of Terrence Magee runs to the 37, Hill took a carry and bounced to the outside to score from 37 yards out to give LSU a 21-7 lead with 2:02 left.
The Hawkeyes didn't lie down, as senior Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to the LSU 4 to set up Iowa's final touchdown. On the second play of the series, Beathard cut the lead to 21-14 with 1:42 left with a 4-yard touchdown strike on a touch pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley into the corner of the end zone.
LSU recovered Iowa's onside kick attempt, and lined up in victory formation.
LSU took the opening kickoff and drove 77 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead. Hill opened the game with a power run off the right tackle on first down and scampered 42 yards to the Iowa 35. Seven rushes later, Jennings scored on an option, making the score, 7-0, with 10:59 left in the opening quarter. LSU had eight rushes for 72 yards on its opening series.
The Hawkeye defense buckled down after the initial Tiger drive, forcing four straight LSU punts, but Iowa's offense couldn't muster anything against the Tiger defensive unit.
Iowa moved the ball to midfield on its first drive of the second quarter via a 22-yard completion to Fiedorowicz and a 15-yarder to Duzey. On third-and-10, Rudock targeted Damond Powell, who had two steps on Tre'Davious White, but the ball was underthrown and picked off, giving the Tigers possession at their own 6.
The Hawkeye defense held, forcing an immediate three-and-out, but LSU was the beneficiary of Iowa's second miscue on the punt. Martin-Manley muffed a fair catch and LSU's James Wright recovered at the Iowa 39. The turnover led to the Tigers' second touchdown, as LSU made the score 14-0, covering 39 yards in seven plays.
On third-and-13 from the 42, Jennings got outside the pocket before connecting with Alfred Blue for 17 yards to the 25. Four plays later, Hill bulldozed his way into the end zone, carrying a pair of Iowa defenders in for a 14-yard score.
The Hawkeyes managed 73 yards of total offense and four first downs in the opening 30 minutes. Iowa had 15 yards rushing on 16 attempts, while completing just 6-of-15 attempts for 58 yards. LSU gained 166 yards (117 on the ground) with 77 yards coming on the opening drive of the game.
Iowa finishes the 2013 season with an 8-5 overall record.