Tonight's game

January 02, 2003|By Orlando Sentinel

Orange Bowl

No. 3 Iowa (11-1) vs. No. 5 USC (10-2)

Site: Pro Player Stadium, Miami

Time: 8

TV: Chs. 2, 7

About Iowa: The Hawkeyes come in with a nine-game winning streak and the Heisman Trophy runner-up in senior QB Brad Banks, a Belle Glade, Fla., native who originally signed with Central Florida. Iowa has a number of key players who, like Banks, are from South Florida and should enjoy playing in front of the home folks. Banks is a good athlete who can tuck it and run, and 5-foot-8 TB Fred Russell (121.9 ypg) is a tough, darting runner. Iowa is nicely balanced on offense, averaging 222.1 rushing yards and 210.8 passing yards per game. The line, which has four senior starters, may be the best in the nation. On defense, the secondary can be exploited.

About USC: The Trojans come in with a seven-game winning streak and the Heisman winner in senior QB Carson Palmer. Their rushing attack came on in the last third of the season, with 42 percent (670 yards) of the season total (1,605) in the final four games. That coincided with senior TB Justin Fargas finally being healthy. Palmer also has gotten better as the season has progressed. The defense has been solid against the run, with no opponent running for more than 90 yards in the final seven games. The secondary is adequate.

The key: Both teams want to shut down the run, then blitz. USC has 42 sacks and has allowed 22. Iowa has 36 sacks and has allowed just 11.

The buzz: This has the look of a competitive and entertaining game.

The line: USC by 6.

The pick: USC 27, Iowa 23.

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