Iowa football team will face Southern California in the Holiday Bowl
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It isn’t the bowl game that Hawkeye fans had envisioned for this season, but a spot in the Holiday Bowl against the University of Southern California in warm and sunny San Diego is a nice consolation prize.
News of that Dec. 27th matchup became official Sunday afternoon.
The 9-3 Hawkeyes will face 8-4 USC in the Holiday Bowl two days after Christmas. It will be Iowa’s fourth appearance in the Holiday Bowl, and its first since 1991, when it tied Brigham Young 13-13 to cap a 10-1-1 season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on FS1.
This will also be Iowa’s 17th bowl appearance in 21 seasons under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Combine that with Iowa’s eight bowl appearances with Ferentz as an assistant coach from 1981-89 and this will be his 25th bowl game overall with the Hawkeyes.
That’s a lot of bowl games, which says something about Ferentz’s loyalty and about Iowa’s consistency over the past four decades.
Ferentz was Iowa's offensive line coach when the Hawkeyes won last-second nail-biters against San Diego State and Wyoming in the 1986 and 1987 Holiday Bowls, respectively.
Bowl games are almost taken for granted by Iowa fans, and that is a tribute to all of the players and coaches who have sustained a level of success.
The chance to play in southern California is appealing because it’s a change of pace from all of the recent bowl games that Iowa has played in Florida.
And with USC as the opponent makes it even better.
This isn’t one of USC’s best teams, and that is partly why the Trojans are playing in the Holiday Bowl under head coach Clay Helton rather than in a bigger bowl.
Iowa and USC last faced each other in the 2003 Orange Bowl, and the Trojans rolled to a 38-17 victory.
That was the start of a dominant period under former head coach Pete Carroll, although, the shine has since rubbed off due to controversy and scandal.
It’ll be interesting to see if USC fans embrace this game because traveling to the game shouldn’t be a problem for most of them.
But will a three-loss Iowa team that has struggled to score points in key games be enough to excite USC fans?
That's the big question.
The USC players had better take Iowa seriously because the Iowa players should be fully engaged for this game, with a chance to win 10 games and a chance to defeat one of the true giants in college football on the line.
Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley also has a chance to finish 3-0 as the starting quarterback. That would put him in select company with Ricky Stanzi.
Iowa’s matchup against USC is about the best you could expect and hope for under the circumstances.
The timing of the game leaves something to be desired with it being just two days after Christmas. But the location and opponent are top-notch.