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Head coaches for Outback Bowl address the media together

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LSU head coach Les Miles and Iowa head coach Kirk Farentz shake hands before addressing the media. LSU head coach Les Miles and Iowa head coach Kirk Farentz shake hands before addressing the media.
TAMPA, FL (WAFB) -

It wasn't quite the Les Miles-Dabo Swinney hug fest from last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl, but Miles and Iowa head coach Kirk Farentz certainly did their best to compliment each other's program and conference when they met prior to the Outback Bowl.

"You'd have to be blind to college football to not recognize the level of talent and the level of coaching in the conference," said Farentz. "It's just outstanding."

"When you're from the Big 10, you really enjoy seeing some of those old helmets that you, you know, I was fortunate to be on great Michigan teams and prepared for that conference," Miles added. "The Big 10 Conference is every bit as capable as any conference in America."

Farentz's defense was ranked third in the Big 10, allowing just 309 yards per game. However, it's safe to say the Hawkeyes haven't faced an arsenal of offensive playmakers like LSU possesses.

"If you look at them statistically, they're over 200 (yards per game) throwing it and 200 rushing it, so it's a tough team to defend just because of the balance and the players that they put out there," Farentz explained.

But the Tigers (9-3), of course, racked up almost all of those numbers with senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Young Anthony Jennings did have that one great cameo, but up to this point, that's all it's been, one cameo. Is he ready to be the leading man?

"That's really the only wild card for us. We don't have much tape on him and we're not sure what exactly to expect, but I know we can count on a really good player being back there, a guy who's a leader of their football team," said Farentz.

"The greatest characteristic of Anthony Jennings is poise. He's always had it. It's what he does. He did it in the spring of the year when he went by some guys to be our second team quarterback. I think the confidence of the team, really, when he went under center, it didn't change a lick," said Miles.

"The job of any quarterback, regardless of his style or his age, is to move the team and he moved them in about as extreme circumstances as you can possibly dream up. You wouldn't put a guy in that situation in a practice, I don't think, and expect them to do what he did," Farentz added.

Powerful running back Jeremy hill and his 107 yards per game average may be the best friend Jennings has on New Year's Day.

"He's a tremendous football player, very strong, physical. It starts, they block people up front. They've got big, physical guys up front that allow them to get going," said Farentz.

But Iowa (8-4) has talented senior linebackers that will do their best to make No. 10 uncomfortable from the jump.

"It's a traditional scheme, but there's nothing traditional about how they play it - physical and fast, know how to take on blocks. I think the linebacking core, I think the secondary, certainly the defensive front all play within a very disciplined concept and it allows them to play at a very high level, no matter who they play," said Miles.

Kickoff for the Outback Bowl is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

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