Outback Bowl Analysis: How Iowa Can Beat Mississippi State


Courtesy of Victors Valiant

Josh Poe, Reporter

Opponent: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Bowl: The Outback Bowl (can you guess who it’s sponsored by?)

Record: (8-4, 4-4 SEC)

Mississippi State Rundown:

QB Nick Fitzgerald has accumulated 1,615 passing yards, with 15 passing TDs and 7 INTs, with his primary targets Osiris Mitchell (24 REC, 385 YDs, 4 TDs) and Stephen Guidry (18 REC, 389 YDs, 3 TDs) combining for 774 YDs and 7 TDs. Oddly enough, the leading rusher for Mississippi State is Nick Fitzgerald, with a whopping 1018 yds on 201 and carries this season. Between Fitzgerald, running backs Kylin Hill (691 YDs on 105 CAR ) and Aeris Williams (502 YDs on 79 CAR), the Bulldogs bring a formidable rushing attack that thrashed archrival Ole Miss two weeks ago (Hill had 108 YDs on 17 CAR and 1 TD, Williams had 64 YDs on 11 CAR and 1 TD, and Fitzgerald rushed for 117 YDs on 18 CAR and 2 TDs). (Stats from Sports Reference)

On defense, CB Johnathan Abram (49 SOLO, 44 AST, 93 TOT, 7.5 LOSS, 2.5 SK, 2 INT, 1 FR, 1 FF) leads the defense in solo tackles and is second on the team in assisted tackles. Behind him is LB Errol Thompson (29 SOLO, 55 AST, 84 TOT, 9.5 LOSS, 4.0 SK, 2 INT), who leads the team in assisted tackles. Another impact player is DE Montez Sweat, who has racked up a team high 11.5 sacks and 14.0 tackles for loss along with 25 solo tackles. The defense allowed a mere 12 points per game this season, with the most points scored on them was 28 by Kentucky.


Mississippi State’s run game is their greatest offensive strength, with three rushers over 500 yards and one (Fitzgerald, I still can’t get over that he is the Bulldogs’ leading rusher) with over 1,000 yards. Defensively, they are a solid unit who has held eight teams to 10 points or less, and have held seven teams to zero touchdowns.

How Iowa Can Beat the Bulldogs:

In order for the Hawks to beat Mississippi State, they will have to do what they do best (not counting the Northwestern game): stop the run. Iowa’s front 4 are some of the best in the country, with names like A.J. Epeneza (20 SOLO, 15 AST, 35 TOT, 15.5 LOSS, 9.5 SK, 1 FR, 3 FF, 1 TD), Anthony Nelson (20 SOLO, 21 AST, 41 TOT, 11.0 LOSS, 9.5 SK, 1 FR, 1 TD). In addition, DB Amani Hooker (33 SOLO, 26 AST, 59 TOT, 3.5 LOSS, 1.0 SK, 4 INT, 7 PD) is a veteran leader in the backfield that should be able to help contain the Bulldogs’ passing attack, so the LBs and DL can focus on stopping the Bulldogs’ rushing attack.