USC’s loss to Iowa in the Holiday Bowl featured some standout offensive players, but the failures of the defense and special teams defined the night.
USC’s return to bowl eligibility ended in frustration as the Trojans were thoroughly battered by Iowa, 49-24.
The Trojans fell victim to an Iowa offense who exploited their weaknesses and some misfortune on offense.
Who stood tall and who fell flat on their face? It’s time to look at the studs and duds:
Kedon Slovis Going up against one of the best defenses he has seen all season, Slovis was excellent. He kept the offense ticking over, showing particular prowess in the long passing game to take advantage of the Hawkeyes. Before his injury, he completed 22-of-30 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, USC’s inability to move the ball without him made Slovis’ performance standout even more.
Amon-Ra St. Brown Slovis’ favorite target on the night was St. Brown. The sophomore wide out was impossible to defend, racing up 163 yards on nine catches. Even though he never found the endzone himself, his big gains set up a couple of touchdowns and a field goal on the night.
Talanoa Hufanga On a night when USC’s offense was torn to shreds, at least Talanoa Hufanga kept his name clean. He led all players with 14 tacles, including two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. It was a rough night for the Trojans, but Hufanga remains a bright spot to cling to as the offseason begins.
A.J. Epenesa The Iowa defensive end was named the Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl for good reason. He broke through to sack the quarterback 2.5 times, forcing a fumble on one of those sacks. Another apparent forced fumble was ultimately ruled an incomplete pass.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette The danger man on Iowa’s offense Smith-Marsette. The receiver came into the game leading the Hawkeyes in touchdowns from three different avenues and he only added to his tally in the finale. He scored a six-yard rushing touchdown, a 12-yard receiving touchdown and a 98-yard kick return touchdown.