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The Pants Predicts: Iowa Vs. USC in the Holiday Bowl

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For the final time this season, the Pants is predicting an Iowa football game.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Southern California
Can the Iowa offense keep up with the potent attack of the Trojans?
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

We’re mere hours away now from Iowa’s final game of the 2019 football season as the Hawkeyes prepare to take on the USC Trojans in the Holiday Bowl. With that comes the final prediction of the season for the staff at BHGP. Before we dive into what we all expect in this final game of the year, here’s a look at the final standings from the regular season.

Thad - 5-1-1
Adam - 3-2
Matt C - 7-5
Jerry - 6-5-1
Doug - 5-6
BoilerHawk - 5-7
DC - 5-7
JP - 5-7
Matt R - 5-7
Ben - 4-9

As for this final week, we have a slimmed down crew making picks thanks to the Christmas holiday smack in the middle of the week. But fear not, 88% of us are picking the Hawkeyes to win outright. Ignore the fact that the lone dissenter is the guy hitting on more than 70% of his picks on the year.

Vegas had this one as Iowa -2 as of the time everyone made their picks. The line has since moved to Iowa -2.5 at Elite Sports Book in eastern Iowa. the over/under has remained steady at 52. That’s an implied final of Iowa 27.25, USC 24.75.

Here at the Pants, we’re collectively calling for a final of Iowa 25, USC 20. That would be good for an Iowa cover regardless of where or when you got your bets in. We’re also clearly in on the under. Shocking, we have faith in Phil Parker’s defense.

Here’s a look at our individual predictions for tonight’s matchup.


JP: This is a really interesting matchup for Iowa stylistically. This USC offense is good and will surely test the Iowa defense. On the flip side, Iowa’s offense isn’t great and neither is the USC defense. It’s strength on strength and weakness on weakness.

At the end of the day, I think this comes down to who is more battle tested and who wants this more. The Trojans are coming off a bumpy season that nearly saw their head coach fired. There was confusion as to whether he was even still their coach at one point. There’s been no confusion in Iowa City for the last 21 years. The Hawkeyes are excited to be back in San Diego and I think they’re ready to punch the Trojans in the mouth like few teams in the PAC-12 are capable of doing.

Iowa 31, USC 24

DC: Iowa’s defense is the reason the Hawkeyes are 9-3 and have the opportunity to win 10 games. Iowa’s defense is 5th in scoring defense, 11th in passing defense, and 12th in total defense this year. Iowa’s defense is also 7th in Stop Rate. What I’m trying to get you all to realize is that Iowa’s defense is among the elite in all of College Football and Phil Parker will find a way to contain the Trojans’ Air Raid offense. Nate Stanley leads this offense to a win behind a heavy dose of Tyler Goodson and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

Iowa 28, USC 20

Jerry Scherwin: Iowa is going to win this game for one simple reason: This matters more for the Hawkeyes. There is a whole lot of emotions surrounding the football program right now and they are going to release the fury on the field. There is too much riding on the line. We care too much. Hayden means to much for Iowa to lay an egg here. I know I’ve said many, many times that these bowl games outside of the playoffs don’t matter, but you know what, this one does now. It’s the programs send off to the man that created said program.

Plus, the Pac-12 sucks.

Iowa 24, USC 21

tnels20: I really have enjoyed this Iowa team this season. It hasn’t been perfect by any means, but this team has fought and competed each week. Three of four trophies still reside in Iowa City and the difference between going to Indy and not was about 18 inches on a two-point conversion in Madison.

I do have concerns about this game though. USC has the speed up front that has given this OL issues during the season. I’m not sure Iowa will be able to run the ball effectively enough to create easier plays in the passing game.

The defense has to limit the big plays USC is capable of and needs because I’m not sure they are willing to consistently take what the Iowa defense will give them.

In the end, I don’t know if the offense can get quite enough going to defeat an ultra-talented USC team.

Iowa 18 - USC 27

MattReisener: This is the matchup I was hoping Iowa would get this bowl season not because I thought it would be the easiest, but because USC presents an interesting contrast of styles as well as a real challenge. A win over the Trojans would be a meaningful accomplishment, and their status as an established national brand means that casual fans and potential recruits would be impressed by it as well.

USC’s passing game will obviously be a concern for the Iowa defense, but it also puts pressure on the Hawkeye offense to score enough to keep up with the high-powered Trojan attack. Iowa’s offense has been inconsistent all season, but I expect Nate Stanley to end his career on a high note and make some big plays against a young and inconsistent Trojan secondary.

Iowa 24, USC 21

mattcabel: This is a weird game for me. My dad, an Iowa native, has been a USC fan since he was a kid. He liked cool helmets and became a USC fan because they were the coolest helmet he saw on TV. As such, USC has been my secondary college football team for many a year, and I watch games when I can. This is going to be a tough game for Iowa on paper. USC has a lot of talent offensively, and I’m not sure Iowa will be able to contain it. The fact that they have gone through myriad injuries and dissatisfaction with their head coach and still managed 8 wins says something about the talent on the roster.

From the get-go I thought this would be an Iowa loss. But, with the recent loss of Hayden Fry and the potential bad weather, my thoughts have changed and I’m thinking Iowa will be able to manage a victory, but it’s going to go down to the wire.

Iowa 21, USC 17

Ben: I’d like to say something snarky about the USC defense having a month to prepare for a prehistoric and inept offense, but I think everything gets thrown out the window when Iowa rolls up in special uniforms to honor Hayden Fry. This one’s for the coach.

Iowa 30, USC 12

Adam Hensley: Iowa hasn’t faced an offense as explosive as USC’s this season, which might cause problems. But the Trojans haven’t faced a defense like Phil Parker’s. I see Iowa’s defensive line getting to Kedon Slovis early and often.

Iowa 23, USC 17


So there you have it, we’re mostly on the Hawks, except the guy who keeps getting things right. He’s bound to be wrong eventually, right?

How about you all, what’s your prediction for Iowa’s final game of the year?