Palmer has tough task against Iowa
The Heisman Trophy winner will face the Heisman runner-up in Hawkeyes QB Brad Banks.
MIAMI (AP) -- When his receivers are covered, Southern California's Carson Palmer might want to think twice about tucking the ball and taking off.
Iowa has been rough on quarterbacks.
The Hawkeyes knocked seven quarterbacks out of games this season, including Michigan State's Jeff Smoker, Purdue's Kyle Orton, and two in the game against Wisconsin.
"Quarterbacks tried to scramble against us," said linebacker Fred Barr, who led the Hawkeyes with 109 tackles. "Our guys eyes light up. Everyone wants to get the big hit on the quarterback.
"Different teams come in and their quarterback tries to scramble. If they scramble, we want to try to take them out of the game."
When the third-ranked Hawkeyes (11-1) face the No. 5 Trojans (10-2) tonight in the Orange Bowl, some of the Iowa defensive players might be even more motivated to pursue Palmer. He won the Heisman Trophy and Hawkeyes quarterback Brad Banks finished second.
"There is definitely going to be a big target on my chest," Palmer said. "They wanted their guy to win the Heisman, just like our guys wanted our guy to win the Heisman. They'll definitely be gunning for me."
Iowa defensive end Howard Hodges wouldn't mind bagging a trophy.
"You always want to get a sack every game," Hodges said. "I want mine tackling the Heisman."
Banks led the nation in passing efficiency and was The Associated Press Player of the Year. Palmer was a first-team All-American and won the Heisman by an unexpectedly large margin.
Palmer realizes he will be under a microscope in his first game after the award, and he believes his Iowa counterpart will be, too.
"Brad Banks will obviously feel like he has a lot to prove, because he deserved to win the Heisman also. There's going to be a lot of heat," Palmer said.
The quarterbacks have had nothing but compliments for each other.
"We're two great quarterbacks," Banks said. "He's much bigger. I'm probably faster. We have great arms. I have great respect for him."
Barr, predictably, thought Banks should have won the Heisman.
"He did a whole lot more for our team than Palmer did for his team," said Barr, who contends that Palmer inflated his numbers by throwing a lot of short, safe passes to speedy receivers.
"Brad throws the deep ball, and he's running around and shaking people and doing things with his feet that Palmer isn't doing," Barr said.
The Orange Bowl appearance is the first for both schools, and it might seem like a real road game to the Trojans. While at least 40,000 Iowa fans are expected, Southern Cal may draw 15,000 -- its ticket allotment -- or fewer.
"We're used to playing big games on the road, and we can always spot the USC people in the crowd, too," said Trojans' two-time All-American safety Troy Polamalu, who at times could be matched up against Iowa All-American tight end Dallas Clark.
Trojans coach Pete Carroll said, "If it is like playing in a hostile environment, I think we can handle it very well. The best thing you can do when you're on the road is play well and quiet the crowd down."
Close to home
Banks, who grew up 75 miles north of Pro Player Stadium in Belle Glade, will have his personal cheering section. Dozens of his relatives will be at the game, including father Charles, who has seen his son play just once this season.
"My pops hates flying," Banks says. "Now he doesn't have to worry about getting on a plane. He can just drive down the street to the game."