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Capital One Bowl Breakdown

Tigers look to unleash blitzes on Hawkeyes in Saban's final game

Posted: Wednesday December 29, 2004 2:41PM; Updated: Wednesday December 29, 2004 2:41PM
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Bowl Breakdown
SI.com's Stewart Mandel breaks down the Capital One Bowl.
No. 12 LSU (9-2) vs. No. 11 Iowa (9-2)
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC)
   LSU At a Glance
The defending BCS national champion Tigers saw their repeat hopes dashed early on due to a 10-9 loss to Auburn and 45-16 debacle at Georgia. But a last-second, 24-21 win at Florida touched off a six-game winning streak down the stretch for Nick Saban's team. This will be Saban's last game with LSU; he accepted the Miami Dolphins' head coaching job last week.

Senior QB Marcus Randall (62.6 percent completions) shared snaps with freshman JaMarcus Russell but improved as a leader. LSU relied much more heavily on running backs Alley Broussard, Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent. The Tigers averaged 200.7 yards on the ground.

LSU's defense finished among the nation's top three (249.9 yards per game allowed) for a second straight season. DE Marcus Spears (nine sacks, 17 tackles) is extremely disruptive. Safety LaRon Landry (86 tackles) moves well. Corey Webster, saddled early by injury, is one of the nation's top cornerbacks.

 
  Iowa At a Glance
Drew Tate
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Kirk Ferentz's teams continue to defy expectations. After struggling to a 2-2 start, including an embarrassing 44-7 loss at Arizona State, the Hawkeyes won their last seven, beating four bowl teams in the process, and are a victory away from their third straight double-digit win season.

A staggering rash of injuries in the backfield resulted in the nation's worst rushing attack (74.9 yards per game). Undeterred, sophomore QB Drew Tate (2,499 yards, 18 touchdowns) played exceptionally well down the stretch. His top target is WR Clinton Solomon (54 catches, 824 yards).

The Hawkeyes' defense was dominant in Big Ten play. LBs Chad Greenway (104 tackles) and Abdul Hodge (101 tackles) are tackling machines and DEs Matt Roth (eight sacks) and Jonathan Babineaux (20 tackles for loss) bring tremendous pressure. Kyle Schlichler made 20 of 25 field goals but has limited range.

 
  How They Match Up
Both teams boast tremendous defenses but limited offenses, which should make for a hard-nosed, low-scoring game. Iowa could slow down LSU's running backs and fluster Randall, but Saban's blitz-intensive defense figures to feast on the Hawkeyes' one-dimensional attack in the coach's final game.
 
  The Pick
LSU 17, Iowa 13
 
Mandel: More predictions in Bowl Pickoff | Complete 2004-05 Bowl Schedule

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