Two great defenses will meet up in the 2019 Outback Bowl with a Big Ten and SEC team squaring off. Mississippi State and Iowa will duke it out on Jan. 1 to try to go into the offseason with momentum. Here is the 2019 Outback Bowl preview.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)
Joe Moorhead had a solid first season at Mississippi State, totaling eight wins. They beat four teams that were bowl-eligible this season, including wins over Texas A&M and Auburn. Their only losses came to teams who are currently ranked in the top 15 in the country currently.
The Bulldogs score 29.1 points per game, which ranks them 64th in the country. They rush for 226.4 (ranked 20th) and pass for 175.6 yards (ranked 111th) per game.
Nick Fitzgerald stepped in after Dak Prescott graduated and has had a solid career. The senior has thrown for 1,615 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 52.6% completion, as more of a running threat. Four pass-catchers have over 200 receiving yards this season. Stephen Guidry and Osirus Mitchell each have over 300 receiving yards as the two leading receivers.
Fitzgerald leads the team in rushing with 1,018 yards this year. Kylin Hill has been the lead running back with 691 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Aeris Williams is a former starter with 502 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2018.
Mississippi State has the best scoring defense in the country, allowing 12 points per game. They give up 104.3 rushing yards (ranked ninth) and 164.2 passing yards (ranked sixth) per game. The Bulldogs have two star defensive linemen in Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, who have combined for 29.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks on the season.
Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4)
Kirk Ferentz has made Iowa into a solid program that always seems like a lock for at least seven wins. This year, they defeated three bowl-eligible teams in Northern Illinois, Iowa State and Minnesota. Their four losses came to teams who qualified for a bowl game.
The Hawkeyes score 31.5 points per game, ranking them 46th in the country. They rush for 162 yards (ranked 77th) and pass for 227.7 yards (ranked 68th) per game.
Nate Stanley has been a good quarterback for the Hawkeyes over the last few seasons. Stanley has 2,638 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 58.6% completion. Iowa has T.J. Hockenson leading the team in receiving with 46 receptions and 717 receiving yards from his tight end position. The Hawkeyes will be without tight end Noah Fant though, the team’s second-leading receiver, as he prepares for the NFL Draft.
Iowa has used a stable of running backs this season. Mekhi Sargent leads the team with 748 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Toren Young has 133 carries for 630 yards and five touchdowns, while Ihmir Smith-Marsette has 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The defense is ranked 11th in the country with 17.4 points per game allowed. They allow 102.8 yards on the ground (ranked sixth) and 186.8 yards through the air (ranked 24th) per game. A.J. Epenesa and Anthony Nelson create a good pass-rushing duo with 9.5 sacks a piece.
Mississippi State’s defense is too talented to be beaten by Iowa’s offense. They’ll play good defense and control the clock. Nick Fitzgerald will run in a few touchdowns to secure the victory.
Mississipi State Bulldogs 29 Iowa Hawkeyes 13
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