Holiday Bowl 2015: Who Were the Studs and Duds?

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Dec 30, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (2) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans during the 2015 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Holiday Bowl turned into a defensive battle with USC’s struggling offense resulting in more than a few duds for the Trojans.

Here’s a look at who stood out in the 23-21 USC loss for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons:

Who were the studs?

Delvon Simmons: There was little doubt of USC’s MVP at the Holiday Bowl. Delvon Simmons put in his best performance as a Trojan for his final game in cardinal and gold. Simmons led USC in tackles with 10, had two tackles for loss and deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage. He was always around the ball and was a big part of the reason USC limited Wisconsin to just 3.8 yards per carry on the ground.

Dave Aranda: Rumors that USC might target Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda floated around soon after the Trojans parted ways with Justin Wilcox following the Pac-12 Championship game. Whether or not that interest was true at the time, the performance of Aranda’s defense at the Holiday Bowl should warrant some attention. USC offense was not allowed to breathe. The Badgers crashed in for nine tackles for loss and three sacks, holding the Trojan ground attack to just 65 yards.

Jack Cichy: Jack Cichy’s stud status is helped by the fact that he led Wisconsin in tackles, but his contribution of three consecutive sacks on one third quarter three-and-out drive for USC guaranteed him a spot anyways. Shortly after the Trojans pulled within six points of the Badgers, the USC defense forced a punt to give Cody Kessler and company a chance to take the lead. Instead, Cichy wrecked havoc with sacks of nine, seven and seven yards to end the Trojans drive and flip the field position battle.

Ronald Jones II: Justin Davis came through with two touchdowns on the night but it was Ronald Jones II who proved to be USC’s most capable offensive weapon — even if his opportunities were limited. The true freshman had 47 yards on eight carries with an average of 5.9 yards per carry. He also added a 12-yard catch. Though Jones only had nine touches, it was clear he probably should have seen more action.