If you’re looking to sum up the 2019 USC season then the Holiday Bowl was just that. The Trojans came into San Diego in an attempt to cap off their season with a victory. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case as the No. 16 Iowa Hawkeyes defeated USC 49-24.
The Hawkeyes offense was clearly the story of the game as they had their way with the Trojans defense. Iowa scored on every single possession until the 1:28 mark of the 3rd quarter. The first sign of trouble came during Iowa’s first two drives of the game where they converted on 3rd downs multiple times and capped off their drives with jet sweeps for a touchdown. The Trojans defensive line also had a difficult time against the Hawkeyes offensive line.
The offense was the bright spot for USC as their ability to move the ball through the air key them in the game. Kedon Slovis found Drake London and Vavae Malepeai for two touchdown passes during the first quarter. However Iowa’s offense dominating the time of possession didn’t give USC many drives to work with during the first half.
USC trailed Iowa 28-17 heading into halftime and it appeared the Hawkeyes would run away with this game. During the start of the third quarter the Trojans showed signs of life. Slovis threw a 55 yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown gave some momentum to USC. A couple players later Stephen Carr rushed for a two yard score to cut the lead to 24-28. The ensuing kickoff saw the Trojans recover an onside kick which gave USC all the momentum. However, USC couldn't capitalize on the opportunity given to them and lose their quarterback all in the same drive. Hawkeyes junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa sacked Slovis causing him to fumble. Trojans tackle Austin Jackson would recover the fumble but Slovis would leave the game with a sprained elbow and wrist. Matt Fink would finish the game in place of the injured Slovis.
Iowa would drive 89 yards after the punt which included 3 consecutive quarterback sneaks that led to a touchdown to put the Hawkeyes up 35-24. After that touchdown drive, USC couldn't recover from there as Iowa would score a couple more times to put the game on ice.
USC finishes the season with an 8-5 record and still a lot of questions regarding what’s next with the Trojans. The loss is also the Trojans largest margin of defeat in a bowl game since 1948. Next time USC takes the field, it’ll be in Arlington, Texas for a match up with the Alabama Crimson Tide. What happens between now and then is completely up in the air.