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.
The USC Trojans are:
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games against a team with a winning record.
The top supporting trends found on covers.com are: The Iowa Hawkeyes are:
- 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 170 passing yards in their previous game.
- 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games on grass.