If you like smash-mouth football, the 2019 Outback Bowl should provide one of the most compelling matchups of the college football bowl schedule as No. 18 Mississippi State takes on Iowa. The game leads off the New Year's Day bowl schedule with a noon ET kickoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Each team boasts a stout defense, with Montez Sweat leading a Mississippi State unit that only allows 13 points per game and A.J. Epenesa leading an Iowa squad that barely gives up 17. The Over-Under, or total projected points, has fallen sharply ahead of kickoff and is down to 40 in the latest Mississippi State vs. Iowa odds. The Bulldogs are touchdown favorites after the line opened at five. Before you lock in your 2019 Outback Bowl predictions, check out college football guru Emory Hunt's top Mississippi State vs. Iowa picks.

Hunt is the founder and CEO of Football Gameplan, which has been supplying analysis of all levels of football since 2007. The former running back joined SportsLine in 2016 and has provided his followers with winning seasons in college and pro football. 

Hunt is having another solid year for SportsLine members and enters the bowl season on an 11-6 run on his point-spread selections. Moreover, he has had a keen eye for the tendencies of games involving Iowa and has nailed five of his last six against the spread picks involving the Hawkeyes. That run includes nailing Nebraska to cover as a 10-point underdog on the road against Iowa to end the regular season. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now Hunt is zoned in on Iowa vs. Mississippi State and locked in a strong spread pick for the Outback Bowl 2019. You can only see it at SportsLine.

As both teams prepare for Outback Bowl 2019, Hunt knows that Mississippi State will be looking to take advantage of the absence of Iowa tight end Noah Fant.

Fant led the Hawkeyes with seven touchdown receptions in 2018, but has decided to skip the Outback Bowl to focus on the upcoming NFL Draft. Which means the Bulldogs won't have to be as concerned with the two-tight sets that Iowa has been able to employ successfully to establish offensive balance. 

For the Bulldogs, that means an easier path to Iowa quarterback Noah Stanley for edge rusher Sweat and less intimidating matchups for the Mississippi State safeties and linebackers.

But just because Iowa is missing a major playmaker doesn't mean the Bulldogs will cover the Outback Bowl spread.

Arguably Iowa's best matchup against Mississippi State will be their ball-hawking secondary against Nick Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs' wide receivers. Amani Hooker, Geno Stone, Michael Ojemudia and Jake Gervase all have at least three interceptions for Iowa this season and the secondary combined for 17 interceptions on the whole in 2018. 

Against Fitzgerald, who completes just 52.6 percent of his passes and has thrown 28 career picks, Iowa's secondary has to like their chances of capitalizing on an errant pass somewhere along the way. And with no Mississippi State receiver with more than 25 catches or 400 yards, there's nobody who has proven they can create enough consistent separation against an elite unit.

We can tell you Hunt is leaning toward the over, but he has also unearthed a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

Who wins Mississippi State vs. Iowa? And what critical x-factor causes one side of the spread to hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see Emory Hunt's Outback Bowl pick, all from the renowned expert who consistently crushes the books in college football and is 5-1 on his spread picks involving Iowa, and find out.