The No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes 9-3) and the No. 22 USC Trojans (8-4) will meet in the Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego Friday night in what promises to be a highly entertaining game.
There are good matchups abound in this one, highlighted by USC’s high-powered offense against Iowa’s top 10 defense. Here’s a preview of the game followed by betting trends and predictions.
The Trojans have the 5th ranked passing attack in the nation, and they have several promising offensive talents. Led by quarterback Kedon Slovis, who has 3,242 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games this season, and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who has been one of the top wideouts in the nation this year. Pittman ended his season on fire, catching 37 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games.
The Trojans have not matched up well against good defenses this season, however. Three of the Trojans’ four losses this season were against Oregon, Notre Dame and Washington — all of which were teams that ranked in the top 25 in points allowed.
The Hawkeyes have also won three in a row, and they have played solid ball all season — all their three of their losses came against ranked teams: Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State. They also knocked off a then-undefeated Minnesota team on November 16, so they have performed well in big games.
Iowa will also be honoring coaching legend Hayden Fry, who passed away on December 7. The Hawkeyes will wear special helmets in his honor, so expect an inspired performance by the Hawkeyes.
On offense, Iowa is scoring over 23 points a game, while allowing just over 13 on defense. Hawkeyes quarterback Nate Stanley has 2,738 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions this year, and while they have had a well-balanced rushing attack all season, Staley will need to make some plays in this game — and I think he will.
*NOTE: All betting trends and numbers are courtesy of Odds Shark:
Betting Trends, Predictions and Pick
Date/Time: December 27, 8 p.m. ET
Spread: USC +2
Over/Under: 52 points
Odds Shark currently have the Hawkeyes winning the game by a projected score of 30-25, with Iowa covering the spread and the total score going over 52 points.
The following trends surrounding the game are courtesy of Odds Shark:
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Iowa’s last 8 games.
- The Hawkeyes are 5-1 SU in their last 6 games.
- Iowa is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games this season.
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Iowa’s last 5 games against an opponent in the Pacific 12 conference.
- USC is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games.
- The total has gone OVER in 5 of Southern California’s last 5 games.
- USC is 5-1 SU in their last 6 games.
- The total has gone OVER in 5 of Southern California’s last 6 games this season.
I like the Hawkeyes in this one. Their defense should have a strong enough showing to win despite the solid air attack USC brings. I also think the total will go OVER, in a game that could very well come down to the last play.
Final Prediction: Iowa 31, USC 27