Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) vs. LSU Tigers (9-3)
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Line: LSU by 8.0
How Iowa got here: The season didn’t start off well as the Hawkeyes fell to Northern Illinois. But a four-game winning streak helped turned things around, and finishing the year with three wins is why Kirk Ferentz’ team is playing on Jan. 1. The Hawkeyes other losses were to teams you’d expect them to lose to — Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
How LSU got here: LSU didn’t really have a bad loss as all three came in the tough SEC, but the Tigers gave up more points than usual. LSU’s signature win came against No. 2 Auburn in September. Now Auburn is playing for a championship. The Tigers also defeated Texas A&M, TCU and Florida.
For Iowa to win: Iowa doesn’t need a perfect game, but something close to it to pull off this upset. The Hawkeyes must also rely on a defense that is one of the best in the nation.
For LSU to win: The Tigers have lost their last two bowl games in an ugly way. LSU ends the drought by playing emotional football. It also helps that LSU has way more talent than Iowa.
Key Player (Iowa): Jake Rudock, QB. The sophomore had a solid first season as the Hawkeyes’ starter. He’s nursing a sore knee, but it would be a surprise if he’s not playing. He completed 60 percent of his passes this season but also threw 12 interceptions.
Key Player (LSU): Anthony Jennings, QB. The freshman will get his first start. He took over for Zach Mettenberger, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in the regular-season finale against Arkansas. Jennings led the Tigers on a game-winning drive. How he hopes to lead LSU to a bowl win.
Key Stat: 5,000 pounds. That is how much food the players from LSU and Iowa consumed during a pre-bowl feast sponsored by Outback Steakhouse.