Pregame analysis in regular print. HALFTIME UPDATE IN BOLD ALL CAPITALS.

For Iowa to score a victory in today’s Outback Bowl vs Mississippi State they must do the following:

  1. Be gap sound on defense to contain Miss. State QB Nick Fitzgerald. If they are not gap sound Fitzgerald, a 1,000 yard rusher, will crease them.

IOWA DEFENSIVE SPEED IS SURPRISINGLY IMPRESSIVE AND THEY WERE GAP SOUND IN FIRST HALF, LIMITING FITZGERALD TO 56 YARD AND ONLY 1 RUN OVER 15 YARDS ON 11 CARRIES.

2. Hit the underneath routes. Iowa needs to press Miss. State vertically on the outside and complete underneath routes to the running backs and TE T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson is the Mackey Award Winner as the Nation’s best TE and he needs to be the Hawkeye’s Zac Ertz with at least 9 receptions.

IOWA QB NATE STANLEY STARTED THE GAME 8 FOR 8 AND WAS VERY CONSISTENT WITH THE UNDERNEATH ROUTES. HE TOSSED 2 TD PASSES AND THE 75 YARD TD PASS TO NICK EASLEY WAS A 15 YARD PASS AND 60 YARD RUN. HOCKENSON HAS BEEN DOUBLED MOST OF THE FIRST HALF AND HELD WITHOUT A RECEPTION.

3. Get at least 3 turnovers. Iowa only averages two turnovers per game, but to pull the upset they need to get 3 today, and that means stripping Fitzgerald and whoever else has the ball in a white Miss. State jersey.

IOWA GOT 1 TURNOVER DEEP IN MISS. STATE TERRITORY AND IT LED TO AN IOWA SCORE.

The 3 keys to victory for Mississippi State, which is making its first New Year’s Day bowl appearance in more than a decade, are the following;

  1. Fitzgerald has to get on his feet fast, and get positive plays. Fitzgerald is at his best when he is running all over the field. He is a shaky passer at times, but his feet make defenses have to respect him. This puts teams in a spy on the QB, and into man coverage, allowing for favorable match ups with receivers and easier read

FITZGERALD WAS HELD IN CHECK AND IT HAS REALLY HURT THE BULLDOGS OFFENSE. RUSHING FOR ONLY 56 YARDS AND BEING 7-17 FOR ONLY 32 YARDS ISN’T HELPING EITHER. IOWA IS ABLE TO DO A LOT OF THING AND KEEP FITZGERALD FROM BREAKING LOOSE.

2. Mississippi State’s D line has to show up big and hold Iowa to 100 rushing yards or less. Jeffery Simmons, Montez Sweat, and Gerri Green have to penetrate Iowa’s offensive line and stop Mekhi Sargent before he gets his feet under him. Iowa is 5-0 when rushing for 200 yards or more, but 0-3 when held to 100 or less. Mississippi State hold opponents to an average of 104 rushing yards per game, and staying true to this number will only benefit them.

IOWA HAS RUSHED FOR NEGATIVE 16 YARDS SO THE D LINE AND LINEBACKERS ARE DOING A GREAT JOB. HOWEVER THEY AREN’T GETTING MUCH HELP FROM THE CORNERS AND SAFETIES. NATE STANLEY IS 8-11 FOR 113 YARDS AND 2 TOUCHDOWNS, WITH A LONG BALL FOR A 75 YARD TD. THE FRONT LINE NOW NEEDS TO PENETRATE AND GET STANLEY ON HIS BACK AND PRESSURE IN HIS FACE TO KEEP HIM FROM CONTINUING HIS ARIEL ATTACK.

3. They have to limit penalties. The Bulldogs average 55 penalty yards per game. This could be a huge difference between a touchdown standing or being called back. Keep the penalty yardage under 30 and Iowa won’t be catching the breaks they need to win the game.

I SAID PENALTIES WERE GOING TO BE A BACK BREAKER, AND IT HAS REALLY HURT MISSISSIPPI STATE. THEY ARE WAY OVER THEIR AVERAGE OF 55 YARD PER GAME WITH 70 ALREADY. THE TARGETING PENALTY AGAINST MAURICE SMITHERMAN ALLOWED IOWA TO GET A FIELD GOAL WHEN THEY HAD ONLY 9 TOTAL YARDS. THEN ON A DRIVE AT THE END OF THE SECOND PERIOD, A HOLDING CALL NEGATED A HUGE THIRD DOWN CONVERSION, BRINGING BACK A 51 YARD COMPLETION THAT WOULD HAVE PUT THE BULLDOGS ON THE HAWKEYES 2 YARD LINE.

By Allen (Iowa) & AJ (Miss. State) Curtiss

Below is the turning point of the game and the third turnover for Mississippi State which Al said Iowa needed to win. Photo Journalist Trace Crist caught the Iowa interception from the pass to the pick. Enjoy.