Free Pick: Outback Bowl

The Iowa Hawkeyes will make the long trip from the Midwest down to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida to take on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The two teams square off in the 2009 Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Our team of writers and handicappers break down the matchup and hand out a Outback Bowl Free Pick, which takes place Thursday January 1 at 11:00AM ET.

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Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Iowa -4 point spread favorite. The over/under for this game has been set 43 total points.

Top Public Betting Trend: Iowa is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games while the over has covered in four of the Hawkeyes’ last six games and five of South Carolina’s last seven contests.

Key Stat: The Hawkeyes have been dominant both offensively and defensively this season, averaging 30.3 points per game on offense and 13.3 on defense. The Hawkeyes also averaging an impressive 189.7 rushing yards per game, while South Carolina has allowed 128.7 YPG on the ground.

Game Outlook: You look at the stats and it’s a wonderment how Iowa didn’t win more than eight games this year. Not that going 8-4 is some kind of disappointment, but the stats suggest that the Hawkeyes should have won at least 10 games this season. Nevertheless, this is a great matchup for Iowa as their defense should have no problem containing a South Carolina offense that has only averaged 21.7 points per game. The Gamecocks have struggled running the ball this season, averaging just 98.3 YPG, while Iowa has stifled opponents’ rushing attacks by limiting them to only 98.3 per contest. The Hawkeyes should load up to stop the run and take their chances against a decent South Carolina passing game. Offensively for Iowa, they’ll look to run the ball first to set up the pass and while SC has an excellent defensive backfield, the Hawkeyes won’t necessarily have to throw to beat the Gamecocks. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that Iowa played in a weak Big Ten Conference this year. They beat a highly ranked Penn State team as a 7.5-point underdog at home, then went on to crush Minnesota 55-0 on the road as a 7-point favorite. This team has a lot of confidence and momentum after winning four of their last five games and should beat an inconsistent Steve Spurrier program on a neutral field. For the rest of our College Football Bowl Free Pick, see below.

Check out the 2008 Outback Bowl Preview

Our Free College Football Bowl Pick for the Outback Bowl matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and South Carolina Gamecocks game is

IOWA HAWKEYES -4

TheSpread.com Projected Final Score

Iowa Hawkeyes 27

South Carolina Gamecocks 21

We also predict that this game will GO OVER THE TOTAL (43 Sports Interaction.com) SET BY ODDSMAKERS

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Posted: 12/31/08 9:00PM ET

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