USC Trojans vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Holiday Bowl Pick

December 27, 8:00 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Iowa -2

The Big Ten battles the Pac-12 when Iowa and USC play the Holiday Bowl Friday night in San Diego. The Big Ten owns recent bowl bragging rights over the Pac-12, winning 10 of 16 match-ups outright over the last five bowl seasons, going 12-4 against the spread along the way. Who do we like here for our free college football bowl pick?

College Football Bowl Betting Odds

Holiday Bowl betting odds opened Iowa at right around -2 over Southern Cal, with an over/under of 51.5, and both those numbers are holding pretty steady in the early betting action.

Holiday Bowl Betting Preview

USC caused some ire among its faithful when it extended Coach Helton's contract earlier this month, but the Trojans topped their regular-season wins over/under for this year, which was seven, by going 8-4 against what Sagarin (at ranks as the 17th-toughest schedule in the country. The Trojans only started 3-3 this season, with a win over eventual Pac-12 South champion Utah and losses to BYU, Washington, and Notre Dame. But Southern Cal then finished 5-1, with a bad loss to eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon but a 52-35 finale victory over rival UCLA to finish 7-2 in conference play.

Unfortunately, that loss to the Utes cost USC a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.

Still, the Trojans are back in a bowl after missing out last year.

Iowa, meanwhile, also played over its wins total for this season, which was 7.5, by going 9-3 against Sagarin's 37th-toughest schedule. The Hawkeyes started 4-0, win a victory over rival Iowa State, but then lost back-to-back tough games to two pretty good teams in Michigan and Penn State. Iowa later lost another tough one to eventual Big Ten West champion Wisconsin, then finished with three straight wins to come out 6-3 in Big Ten play.

Unfortunately, the loss to the Badgers cost the Hawkeyes a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

Nonetheless, Iowa is back in a bowl for the seventh straight season.

This Holiday Bowl is the classic match-up of the high-powered offense against a very stingy defense. USC ranks 18th in FBS in total offense, averaging 462 yards per game, most of that through the air, while the Hawkeyes rank 12th in total defense, holding foes to 305 YPG.

So far this bowl season, we see three games that fell into this category, and the teams with the stingy defenses (Buffalo, San Diego State, and UAB) are 3-0 ATS.

Iowa and Southern Cal last met back in the 2003 Orange Bowl, a 38-17 Trojans triumph. We bet Coach Ferentz remembers that game.

This is one of three match-ups between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 this bowl season; Cal is favored by seven points over Illinois for the Redbox Bowl, and Wisconsin is favored by three points over Oregon for the Rose Bowl.

College Football Betting Trends

  • USC is (basically) 6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS with Kedon Slovis at quarterback.
  • USC is 3-4 SU, 3-3-1 ATS this season against teams that made bowls.
  • Iowa is 26-12 SU, 20-15-3, with Nate Stanley at quarterback.
  • Iowa is 4-3 SU but only 2-5 ATS against teams that made bowls this season.The Big Ten is 4-0 both SU and ATS against the Pac-12 over the last four Holiday Bowls.

Totals Report

  • Overs are 7-5 in Trojans games this season, which are averaging 64 total points. Overs are also 5-0 over USC's last five games.
  • Unders are 8-3 in Hawkeyes games this season, which are averaging just 37 points.

USC vs Iowa Prediction

USC holds the advantage offensively, but Iowa owns the better defense. And in bowl match-ups like this, we like betting the better defense. We'll take the Hawkeyes here.

Free Pick: 
Take Iowa -2