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Holiday Bowl 2019: USC vs. Iowa TV Schedule, Time and Odds

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 26, 2019

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2019 file photo, Southern California wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., left, sprints with the ball past Utah defensive back Tareke Lewis during an NCAA football game in Los Angeles. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly describes the USC offense as “deadly,” saying Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown comprise the best receiving corps safety Alohi Gilman and the Irish will face.(AP Photo/Kyusung Gong, File)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The USC Trojans rebounded from an awful start to go 8-4 and land in one of the Pac-12's premier bowl positions at the Holiday Bowl. 

USC will use the trip to San Diego as a starting point for the 2020 regular season, with head coach Clay Helton confirmed back for another year. 

While USC has experienced an up-and-down decade, the Iowa Hawkeyes have been a model of consistency in the Big Ten. 

Kirk Ferentz's squad produced its ninth winning campaign in 10 years and its second consecutive nine-win season. 

The postseason has not been kind to the Hawkeyes lately, as they are 3-5 this decade, while USC owns a 3-3 bowl mark in the same span.

             

Holiday Bowl Information

Date: Friday, December 27

Start Time: 8 p.m. ET 

TV: FS1

Odds (via Caesars): Iowa (-2); Over/Under: 52.5

        

Preview

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Iowa could dictate the pace of the Holiday Bowl, and if that is the case, the under could be one of the best bets of bowl season. 

The Hawkeyes rank fifth in the FBS in points allowed per game at 13.2, and they sit 11th in passing defense. 

Defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who leads the Big Ten team with nine sacks, will be key to silencing USC's ground game and keeping quarterback Kedon Slovis out of a rhythm. 

Three Iowa defensive backs have multiple interceptions and another trio owns five or more passes defended. 

That will be important in slowing down the USC wide receiver corps led by Amon-Ra St. Brown and Michael Pittman Jr. 

When Epenesa and others can't get to Slovis, the Iowa secondary has to make a few big plays to halt USC's drives before they reach the red zone. 

If the Trojans control the game, it could be a blowout, and the over may hit with ease thanks to Slovis, a freshman signal-caller who enters with three straight 400-yard outings. 

In each of his last five performances, Slovis has either three or four touchdown passes, and he has three wide outs with at least 68 receptions, 800 yards and six scores. 

Pittman leads the group with 1,222 receiving yards on 95 receptions, while St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns can also put Iowa's secondary under duress. 

If USC's offense controls the pace, Iowa may not be able to keep up with its unit that has been frustrating to watch on a handful of occasions. 

The Trojans average 462.2 total yards per game on offense, while Iowa is much further down that list with 369.8. 

Senior quarterback Nate Stanley discovered some consistency in November, but that was washed away by a 99-yard outing in the regular-season finale versus the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Stanley only has 14 touchdown passes, and he did not record one in his last two trips to the gridiron. 

To come out on top, Iowa needs the senior signal-caller to be efficient in the pocket and receive some support from the running back tandem of Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent. 

If the Hawkeyes slow down the pace of play and contain Slovis' production, they could cover the small margin and keep the game under 52.5 points.

But if USC dominates the contest, the over is more likely to win, and the Trojans could cash in as a two-point underdog. 

                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com