LSU's Ground Game

LSU took a hit when starting QB Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in the regular season finale. Luckily for the Tigers, they have a strong running game on which to fall back.

CORALVILLE, Iowa - Iowa players and coaches fielded a lot of questions about LSU's Anthony Jennings during Monday's press conference here. They had little information on the true freshman quarterback, who played a limited about this season, but replaces injured starter Zach Mettenberger in the Outback Bowl.

Middle linebacker James Morris said he watched some of Jennings high school film. Defensive coordinator Phil Parker said Iowa will fall back on strategies used to contain various other dual-threat signal callers it faced more often than not this season.

While the Hawkeye contingent pieced together a plan for Jennings, most of them mentioned that he's aided by the Tigers running attack. It ranked 34 nationally this season at 200.8 yards per game (5.1 per carry).

"They like to run the ball," Outside Linebacker Anthony Hitchens said.

Bruiser Jeremy Hill (6-2, 235) leads the way for the Tigers. He averages 107.7 yards per game after rolling up 1,185 yards and 14 scores in 11 games this fall.

Here he is in action against Auburn:

Iowa stands a better chance against Hill between the white lines rather than in the street, however. It's not exactly an isolated incident.

Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said that LSU backfield runs three or four players deep, which is true based on contributors. Terrence Magee averages 7.8 yards a carry after totaling 614 in 12 games. Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard each have more than 300 on the ground.

The Tigers ride Hill as the work horse, though. Hitchens said that the sophomore reminds him of Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, who proved tough for Iowa (or anybody else) to stop this season.

As you can see in the above video, a strong front will be blocking for Hill and the other backs. Each of the five guys weighs at least 300 pounds with left guard Vadal Alexander tipping the scales at 342 pounds.

"Their offensive line has great size," Ferentz said.

Something will have to give on Jan. 1. The Hawkeyes rank 17th nationally against the run, allowing just 120.8 yards per outing, better than any SEC schools outside of Alabama.

"I really enjoy their defense," LSU Coach Les Miles told The Advocate of Baton Rouge. "It's a very, very disciplined, physical group. They play extremely hard. I think they're giving up 309 yards, something ridiculous. They tackle well. They're physical. Very, very quality Big Ten defense."

Iowa has faced five offenses ranked higher than LSU in rushing - Ohio State (3), Northern Illinois (4), Wisconsin (8), Nebraska (19) and Minnesota (33). The Hawkeyes held each of them under its season average, including the Huskers and Golden Gophers to less than 100 ground yards. The Buckeyes' 273 represented the most allowed by them in 2013.

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