Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#233 USC 54 vs.
#234 Iowa -2.5
Friday, December 27, 2019 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Adam Rauzino

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#233 University of Southern California
#234 University of Iowa
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The #22 USC Trojans will clash with the #16 Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl on the 27th of December from the SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. The Trojans went 8-4 on the season with a 7-2 record in PAC-12 play. The Hawkeyes logged a 9-3 regular-season record with a 6-3 mark in Big Ten action. This is the first meeting between these sides since the 2003 season.

QB Kedon Slovis Propels USC to Top 25 Ranking

The #22 USC Trojans head into the Holiday Bowl riding a three-game winning streak. The Trojans have also won five out of their last six games overall. Three of their four losses this season occurred against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Trojans QB Kedon Slovis will play a big role in this game. The freshman QB had a spectacular season after taking over as the #1 QB in place of JT Daniels due to injury. Slovis has accumulated 3242 passing yards with a dazzling 28:9 TD to INT ratio on the season. It won’t be easy for the talented QB against an elite Hawkeyes pass defense.

The Trojans are not a big threat on the ground, and they have their work cut out for them against a good rush defense. Vavae Malepeai leads the way with 466 rushing yards in seven games. The junior RB eclipsed 100 rushing yards once this season.

Watch for Michael Pittman Jr. who will play a key factor in this one. The senior WR has surpassed 100 receiving yards in three straight games, and he has 1222 receiving yards on the year. The Trojans offense relies on their strong passing game and they scored over 40 points four times this season.

The USC defense is not nearly as effective as the offense. They especially have trouble defending the pass with a pass defense that ranks 99th in the FBS, and the Hawkeyes can be productive in the air. The Trojans stand 76th overall against the run. USC is scoring an average of 33.2 points, ranking them 36th overall. They are allowing an average of 27.8 points, placing them 66th in the FBS. USC went 2-3 against ranked opponents this season.

#16 Iowa Leans on Stifling Defense

The #16 Iowa Hawkeyes won their final three games of the season. They usually win games with their stifling defense which was on full display in a 23-19 win against #8 Minnesota last month. All three of the Hawkeyes losses took place against a club ranked in the AP Top 25.

Nate Stanley doesn’t usually post big numbers but he is experienced and limits his turnovers. The senior QB has tallied 2738 passing yards with a 14:7 TD to INT ratio on the season. He owns a 2:2 TD to INT ratio over his last three games.

Iowa will run more than pass but they are placed down at 97th in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent lead the way on the ground with similar numbers. Goodson has accrued a team-leading 590 yards while Sargent is right behind with 543 yards. Goodson is questionable with a lower-body injury. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is the Hawkeyes’ top target in the air. The junior WR made nine catches in his last three games, and he has logged 676 receiving yards on the year. Brandon Smith (407 receiving yards) is questionable for this game. The Iowa offense rarely puts up big numbers. They have scored 23 or fewer points in four out of their last five games.

The Hawkeyes defense will be the deciding factor in this game. They are very effective in all aspects. They stand 10th against the pass and 25th against the run. Iowa is scoring an average of 23.8 points, ranking them 99th in the country. They are holding opponents to 13.2 points, good for fifth in the FBS. The Hawkeyes went 1-3 against ranked teams this season.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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I am selecting USC to win this game. Trojans’ QB Kedon Slovis is going to play a big factor in this game against an outstanding Iowa defense. The freshman QB had a spectacular season and exploited most of the defensive units in front of him. Slovis has eclipsed 400 passing yards in three straight games and he racked up 12 touchdown passes in that span. He has fared well against elite defensive teams, recording over 250 passing yards against both Notre Dame and Utah, plus he has only tossed one interception in his last three games.

Furthermore, Iowa is a low scoring team so I am not concerned with USC’s defense. The Hawkeyes rank 67th in the FBS in passing yards and 97th in rushing. They have scored 23 or fewer points in four out of their last five games overall.

Prediction: USC Trojans

Full-Game Total Pick

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I expect this total to go over. USC features a powerhouse offense that scored over 40 points in their last two games. While I don’t expect 40 points, they scored 31 points against Arizona State and 30 points against a tremendous Utah defense earlier this season. The over is 5-0 in the Trojans’ last five games overall, and 4-0 in their last four games following a straight-up win.

In addition, Iowa is not a high scoring team, but they should be able to generate offense against a subpar defense. The Trojans are allowing an average of 248 passing yards per game, which pegs them down at 99th in the FBS, and Hawkeyes’ QB Nate Stanley should be able to post a productive performance as a result. The over is 4-0 in the Hawkeyes’ last four games against a PAC-12 opponent.

Prediction: Over

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The over on the USC team total offered on PointsBet is a recommended prop. Iowa doesn’t have a notable pass rush. They only have a 6% sack percentage which places them 68th in the FBS and is only averaging two sacks per game. The Trojans offensive line will give Slovis time in the pocket as the Trojans’ QB’s have only been sacked on 4.9% of their total plays. This will be key for the talented freshman to spot open receivers.

Prediction: USC Team Total Over 25

Half-Time Total Bet

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I am opting for the under on the first half total. Both sides are solid defensively in the first half. The Hawkeyes defense is very tough to solve in the opening half. They are holding opponents to only 6.2 points, good for fifth in the FBS. The USC defense has contained their opposition in the first half as well, allowing an average of only 12.3 points in the first half over their last three games.

Prediction: Under 25.5
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Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.