The USC Trojans will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl on December 27th. The game will be a contrast in style. USC likes to pass the ball averaging 335 passing yards per game. Iowa’s defense allows only 184 passing yards per game.
Also, the Hawkeyes like to play ball-control offense, which will limit the opposing teams’ offensive possessions if effective. I don’t think Iowa has seen an offense like USC’s while playing in the Big Ten, however.
Iowa will try to run the ball a lot against ‘SC to control the clock to keep the ball away from the Trojans high powered offense. Here are some players USC will need to keep under control.
Tyler Goodson – Running Back
The Hawkeyes have two running backs that have rushed for over 500 yards, Mekhi Sargent has rushed for 543 yards, and four touchdowns and Tyler Goodson has rushed for 590 yards and four touchdowns.
Over the last few weeks, Goodson has taken over the bulk off the carries and played well so it will be crucial for the Trojans to slow him down. Slowing the running game down will force Iowa to pass more often something they do not want to do. Look for USC to stack the box to slow down Iowa’s rushing attack.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Reciever
When the running game is working, it opens up the play-action passing game; when that happens, Iowa looks to throw down the field to Smith-Marsette. He has 42 catches for 676 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Smith-Marsette also averages 16 yards per catch, proving he is a down-field threat. USC must make sure they are doing a good job, not letting Smith-Marsette get behind their defense.
A.J. Epenesa – Defensive End
Slowing down ever great passing attack starts with an outstanding pass rush. A.J. Epenesa brings that to the table; he is on track to be a high first-round pick in the NFL Draft. He has nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss so far this season. If Iowa wins, Epenesa will have a hand in it. USC must account for Epenesa, they cannot let him get to the Kedon Slovis and force sack fumbles, which could be game-changers. I think the Trojans will have to double-team in order to slow Epenesa down.