Southern Cal (8-4) vs Iowa (9-3)
When: Friday, December 27th 2019
Where: SDCCU Stadium,
San Diego, CA
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: FS1
Opening Odds: Iowa -2.5/54
There won’t be any uncertainty on who will be running the USC Trojans football team heading into their bowl game and beyond. The athletic department has decided to stick with Clay Helton as head coach, as well as retaining offensive coordinator Graham Harrell when the the Trojans take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in this year’s edition of the Holiday Bowl. There has been a lot of backlash from Trojan fans, many of whom were hoping Urban Meyer or Bob Stoops would be patrolling the sidelines, when AD Mike Bohn elected to give Helton another season. Harrell was hired in January after Kliff Kingsbury abruptly quit to become head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. He’s been responsible for the development of quarterback Kedon Slovis, a three-star recruit who was forced into action following the season-ending knee injury suffered by starter JT Daniels. Slovis was named Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and has led USC’s offense to be ranked fifth nationally in passing with an average of 335.9 yards per game while scoring 33.2 points per game. The Hawkeyes bring a stout defense to the Holiday Bowl led by two-time first team All-Big Ten defensive end A.J. Epenesa and rank fifth nationally in scoring defense allowing 13.2 points per game and 10th in pass defense (184.2). The teams last met in the 2003 Orange Bowl with USC earning a 38-17 victory as 4.5-point favorites.
This will be USC’s first postseason game since losing 24-7 to Ohio State in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. Helton staved off a firing after his team missed a bowl a year ago when they finished 5-7 and averaged just 26.1 points a game. Slovis completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 3,242 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions and had three wide receivers with 68 or more receptions. His favorite target is Biletnikoff Award finalist Michael Pittman Jr., who caught 95 passes for 1,222 yards and 11 Touchdowns. Sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown (68, 879, six TDs) and junior Tyler Vaughns (68, 858, six TDs) also contributed big numbers. The defense is young and is the weakest part of the team, ranking 84th overall (415.2) and 99th against the pass (248.9). The Trojans won five of their last six games (2-2-1 AT) with the only loss coming at home to Oregon (56-24).
The Hawkeyes will definitely not set the world on fire with their offense, which really struggled at times this season. Iowa averaged just 23.8 points a game (99th) and scored 20 points or less five times (3-2 record in those games). Senior quarterback Nate Stanley completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,738 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions for an offense that ranked 98th in FBS at 369.8 yards a contest. The defense is the heart-and-soul of this team, recording two shutouts, and held Michigan to 10 points. Senior linebacker Kristian Welch (80 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, three sacks) leads a defense that ranks 11th in FBS against the pass at 183.7 yards a game. Iowa earned a 27-22 win over Mississippi State in last year’s Outback Bowl as 7-point underdogs.
I expect a low-scoring game and that would tend to favor Iowa. But, I’m taking USC in this one. Helton has no pressure in coaching this game now that he knows he’ll be back next year and the USC defense, although not strong, should be able to slow this poor Iowa offense.
Pick: USC +2 (Jay Cooper’s Free Bowl Picks)
Trojans are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Trojans are 6-2-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Trojans are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
Trojans are 6-15-1 ATS in their last 22 games following a straight up win.
Trojans are 5-15-1 ATS in their last 21 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Trojans are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
Trojans are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
Trojans are 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games as an underdog.
Trojans are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games.
Trojans are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Friday games.
Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games.
Trojans are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games in December.
Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Bowl games.
Trojans are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten.
Trojans are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
Hawkeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Hawkeyes are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games in December.
Hawkeyes are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
Hawkeyes are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games on grass.
Hawkeyes are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game.
Over is 5-0 in Trojans last 5 games overall.
Over is 4-0 in Trojans last 4 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Over is 4-0 in Trojans last 4 games following a straight up win.
Over is 4-0 in Trojans last 4 games on grass.
Under is 4-1 in Trojans last 5 games as an underdog.
Under is 9-3-1 in Trojans last 13 games in December.
Over is 11-4-1 in Trojans last 16 neutral site games.
Under is 5-2 in Trojans last 7 vs. Big Ten.
Over is 7-3 in Trojans last 10 games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
Over is 5-0 in Hawkeyes last 5 Friday games.
Over is 4-0 in Hawkeyes last 4 vs. Pac-12.
Under is 6-1-1 in Hawkeyes last 8 games as a favorite.
Under is 6-1 in Hawkeyes last 7 vs. a team with a winning record.
Under is 8-2-1 in Hawkeyes last 11 games overall.
Under is 4-1-1 in Hawkeyes last 6 games following a ATS loss.
Over is 4-1 in Hawkeyes last 5 bowl games.
Over is 4-1 in Hawkeyes last 5 Bowl games.
Over is 3-1-1 in Hawkeyes last 5 non-conference games.
Under is 5-2-1 in Hawkeyes last 8 games following a straight up win.
Over is 11-5-1 in Hawkeyes last 17 games on grass.