LSU holds off Iowa for 21-14 win in Outback Bowl

TAMPA, Fla. -- LSU got a strong game from its defense and 216 yards from running back Jeremy Hill in a 21-14 victory over Iowa in Wednesday's Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

Hill put the game away in the final minutes with runs of 28, 20 and 37 yards, the last a touchdown to cap a 92-yard drive that gave the Tigers a 21-7 lead.

"If you give Jeremy Hill an opportunity to close out a victory, he knows what that means," LSU coach Les Miles said. "He really put the finishing touches on that Iowa team and this game."

Held to 165 yards of total offense with 10 minutes remaining, Iowa had a chance to tie in the fourth quarter after freshman quarterback C.J. Beathard connected with tight end Jake Duzey for a 35-yard gain to the LSU 25. Facing a fourth-and-1 at the 16, Iowa called a rollout for Beathard, whose pass was intercepted by LSU safety Craig Loston with 5:04 remaining.

From there, Hill helped put the game away, running for 28 and 20 yards on back-to-back carries to move the ball into Iowa territory as the clock ticked away. On a third-and-6 play, he broke through the Iowa defense for his second touchdown.

"We didn't really reach our expectations, but we still have a lot to play for," Hill said. "We knew we had to go out with a bang. ... We had fun in practice, did what we were supposed to do and it really showed out there in the emotions and energy we played with."

Iowa scored again late, getting a 96-yard kickoff return from wide receiver Jordan Cotton to the LSU 4-yard line. Two plays later, Beathard threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, pulling the Hawkeyes again within a touchdown at 21-14 with 1:42 to play.

Iowa's onside kick was recovered by LSU's Connor Neighbors to clinch the win. The Hawkeyes' touchdown drives were 1 and 4 yards. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz saw parallels in LSU's first and last full drives, which went 77 and 92 yards, almost exclusively on the ground.

"They took it that first possession and pretty much drove it at ease, and then the last possession as well," Ferentz said. "They've got a good football team as you know, and I thought our defense played extremely hard."

LSU won without starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger, out with a knee injury, and freshman Anthony Jennings didn't have to do too much in his first start. He finished 7 of 19 for 82 yards with the one interception, smartly handing off to Hill for much of the team's offense on the day.

LSU established its running game from the opening play, when Hill broke loose for a 42-yard gain, setting up an eight-play, 77-yard touchdown drive on all running plays. Jennings got the final 2 yards for a 7-0 lead.

Hill added a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. At halftime, Iowa's offense had mustered 73 total yards and three first downs.

Iowa's defense kept LSU in check, however, and came up with a big play in the third quarter when Jennings' pass sailed high and safety John Lowdermilk returned the interception 71 yards to the 1-yard line. He initially had a touchdown before an official review showed he lost the ball before entering the end zone. On third-and-goal, running back Mark Weisman scored from two yards to cut the lead to 14-7.

"To me it was a good defensive game overall," Ferentz said. "Both teams were playing tough defense, and sometimes that's what happens when good teams get together."

Iowa was playing in the Outback Bowl for the fourth time in 11 seasons, having split with Florida in 2004 and 2006 and beaten South Carolina in 2009. LSU made its Outback debut, having lost three of its four previous bowl games, including the national championship game after the 2011 season.

NOTES: LSU junior DT Ego Ferguson, thought to be a potential high-round NFL Draft pick if he leaves early, did not travel with the team because of an undisclosed medical condition. ... LB James Morris had two sacks to lead the Iowa defense, with eight tackles in the first three quarters. ... Lowdermilk is the son of former Ohio State and Vikings center Kirk Lowdermilk. ... Hill's 217 yards were the third-most in LSU bowl history and the third-most in Outback Bowl history.