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The 22nd ranked USC Trojans will face off with the 16th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl on Friday, December 27 at 8:00 PM ET. The game will take place in SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA. Both of these teams are coming off a three-game winning streak, though they play very different styles of football. USC (33.2 PPG, 27.7 PPG-allowed) likes to throw the ball and speed it up, while Iowa (23.8 PPG, 13.1 PPG-allowed) wants to run the ball and dominate with their defense. It’ll be interesting to see how the lethal USC offense (462 YPG) fares against one of the best defenses in the country.
Pass-heavy TrojansThe Trojans are 8-4, but they have some of the best losses in the country (ND, WASH, ORE) and they beat Utah earlier in the season. They’re coming off three straight victories and most recently a 52-35 win over UCLA. Kedon Slovis threw for an astounding 515 yards and four touchdowns on 37-47 attempts. Four wide receivers went over 100 yards - Drake London (8/142/1), Amon-Ra St. Brown (8/128/0), Tyler Vaughns (6/106/1) and Michael Pittman Jr. (14/104/2). The Trojans had a field day against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation and Slovis showed how many weapons he has to spread the ball around to. Running backs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai combined for 147 yards and three touchdowns on the ground as well, so this entire offense went crazy.
The Trojans run their offense through Kedon Slovis and the passing game that averages 335.9 (8th) yards per game. Kedon Slovis has missed a few games this season but has been excellent (3242 yards, 28 TD, 9 INT) when on the field. They have some of the best wide receivers in the nation with Michael Pittman Jr. leading the way. He caught 95 balls for 1,222 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. St. Brown and Vaughns were both over 800 yards on the season and are excellent compliments to Pittman. On the ground, Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai will split carries and they are both NFL-style backs that can bruise up a defense. It’ll be interesting to see how this team fares against an Iowa defense that has held opposing teams under 10 points on a regular basis.
Stingy Hawkeyes defenseIowa has won three games in a row as well, but they’ve done it with a much different style. They like to slow it down and pound teams to submission, as evidenced by their 13 points per game allowed on average. They’re coming off a 27-24 thrilling victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Iowa held a commanding lead over Nebraska for the first half and led 24-10 at halftime. The Huskers answered with two touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game a 24. That’s when the strong point of this Iowa team stepped up and shut down the Cornhuskers for the entire fourth quarter to allow Iowa to get the lead back and squeeze by with the three-point win.
This Iowa team is one of the few college football teams left that is based around their defense. They rank top 20 against both the run and pass and allow under 300 yards per game total. On offense, it’s senior QB Nate Stanley at the helm. He’s had an impressive year, throwing for 2,738 yards and 14 touchdowns. Their goal on offense is to run the ball with Mekhi Sargent (117 carries, 543 yards, 4 TD) and Tyler Goodson (116 carries, 590 yards, 4 TD), who are a lethal two-headed running attack that USC will have to contain. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is the leading pass catcher and he’s put up 676 yards and four scores on 42 receptions. This team wins games with its defense.
- Hawkeyes are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games on grass.
- Hawkeyes are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog.
- Trojans are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Trojans are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
USC has the much better offense and Iowa has shown how to attack their defense in recent weeks. A much-suffering Nebraska team put up 24 and I expect USC to lay 30+. The Iowa offense will muster up a couple of touchdowns against an average USC defense, but they don’t have the firepower to stay with Kedon Slovis and this offense. USC should be the favorite here.
Full-Game Total Pick
I’m expecting the USC Trojans offense to get the best of this Iowa defense, which is basically what you’re betting on with this O/U. Kedon Slovis threw for 406 yards and four scores against a California Bears defense that ranks better than Iowa. Iowa has also clicked a bit on offense of late and they should be able to get into the 20’s against a somewhat average USC D. This isn’t enough points