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Archived: Holiday Bowl: USC vs Iowa

Dec 25, 2019 EST

#22 USC (8-4) vs #16 Iowa (9-3)

Friday, December 27th  at 8:00 PM ET
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
Live Game Odds: Iowa -2 // Total: 52

Trojan power

It will be the high octane offense of USC that will be the x-factor for the Trojans in this year’s holiday bowl. Led by QB Kedon Slovis, who was recently named the offensive freshman of the year. Slovis was a three-star recruit coming into this season and was forced into action following the season-ending injury suffered by JT Daniels. He’s thrown for 3242 yards this season, going 260 for 362 (71.8%), with 28 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Along with Slovis, USC has three key wide receivers that have shared the bulk of the offensive workload this season. Biletnikoff Award finalist Michael Pittman Jr. at wide receiver, with 1222 total yards and 11 touchdowns. Also Sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown with 879 yards and six touchdowns. As well as junior Tyler Vaughns with 858 yards and six touchdowns. The Trojans are ranked 5th in the nation in passing offense with an average of 335.9 yards per game and have scored on average 33.2 points per game this season.

After many questions regarding the coaching staff at USC headed into this game. It looks like the Trojans will play with their regular coaching staff, as both head coach Clay Helton and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell were brought back on contracts earlier this month. This will give USC a familiarity that will see them be able to execute that air raid offense they are so well known for. As it was previously expected that at least one of the two coaches were leaving the program, I feel there is some value on USC headed into this game – as the team will be motivated from the return of their head coach and main play-caller.

The Trojans will also have a distinct home-field advantage here, as this game is being played in sunny San Diego. However, it should be known that Iowa is known for traveling to these hot clime bowl games. So the contingent of fans will not be as one-sided as people imagine, but overall – this will more or less be a home game for the Trojans of Southern California.

USC has a 7-2 record all-time against Iowa, which includes winning the last six straight. The Trojans were not eligible for a bowl game last year, but in their most recent bowl game – the 2017 Cotton Bowl, they lost to Ohio State 24-7. USC is hoping to get back to the big stage and set their program on the right course headed into 2020, and will be looking to compete and put on a show against an Iowa team that is known for their defensive strengths.

Hawkeyes defense seeing things through

The Hawkeyes of Iowa have had a very talented defense this season. Two-time first team All Big-Ten DE AJ Epenesa will likely be a 1st round NFL draft pick in the springtime. Epenesa leads this defense that is ranked 5th in the nation, allowing just 13.2 points per game and are 10th in passing defense allowing just 184.2 yards per game. Iowa finished with a 6-3 record in conference, finishing third in the Big Ten’s West Division. Although headed into this game the Hawkeyes are on a 5-1 run after picking up wins over Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota to end the regular season.

Senior QB Nate Stanley has three years of experience as a starter with this program, although this season he does not have as impressive of a stat sheet as his counterpart; he has still been serviceable and effective. Stanley threw for a total of 2738 yards this season, with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes offensive line has held its own in protecting Staley when needed. Junior offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs was named the Big Ten’s offensive lineman of the year this season and is expected to be a high draft choice this spring’s 2020 NFL draft. Both Wirfs and fellow teammate and prospect DE AJ Epenesa are expected to play in this game. Overall, this is a defense that has been able to hold Michigan to only 10 points and kept Rutgers and Northwestern off the scoreboard completely. The Hawkeyes hope to do the same to the Trojans on Friday night.

Trends Worth Tracking

OVER: 7-4-1
ATS: 7-5
ATS as DOG: 2-2

UNDER: 8-3-1
ATS: 5-7
ATS as FAV: 4-5

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