ORANGE BOWL Trojans trounce Iowa
Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards as USC pounded the Hawkeyes 38-17.
MIAMI (AP) -- Iowa figured Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer would complete some big passes and throw for a touchdown or two. The Hawkeyes never expected Southern California to run the ball so well.
Why should they? After all, Iowa (11-2) came into the Orange Bowl against fifth-ranked Southern Cal allowing just 68.2 rushing yards per game, second best in the nation.
But the Trojans (11-2) piled up 247 net rushing yards en route to a 38-17 victory Thursday night over the Big Ten co-champions.
The Trojans were led by Justin Fargas, who rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries, including a 50-yard TD in the third quarter that capped a 99-yard scoring drive.
"Their blocking was crisp. Their backs ran hard," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They've got a good offensive scheme ... (that) makes you play the whole field and they executed with great precision in the second half."
Iowa players said their top priority on defense was shutting down the Trojans' speed-laden backfield, featuring Fargas and Sultan McCullough, who ran for 77 yards in 12 carries.
When Fargas and McCullough began ripping off 7- and 8-yard runs in the second and third quarters, it opened the passing game for Palmer, who threw for 302 yards and a touchdown.
"They have a lot more speed than we're used to," Iowa defensive tackle Colin Cole said. "The truth of the matter was that we had to respect the deep pass. They pretty much pass to set up the run, and it surprised us because those backs really started hitting holes up the middle."
In many ways, the Trojans forced the entire Iowa team to play out of character.
Brad Banks, who came into the game the nation's most efficient passer, was erratic and ineffective much of the game. Banks finished 15-of-36 passing for 204 yards as Iowa's offense was held scoreless until late in the game when he threw an 18-yard TD to Maurice Brown.
Iowa's rushing attack, anchored by the Hawkeyes' massive offensive line, was held to 134 yards by the Trojans' quick, athletic front four.
And the Trojans blocked a 28-yard field goal, the first of the season and a major letdown for Iowa at the end of the first half.
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter and the scored tied at 10, the Hawkeyes marched the ball into Southern Cal territory. Banks hit Brown on a 13-yard pass that put Iowa on the 1 with 10 seconds left.
On the next play, Banks rolled out and overshot a wide open Brown in the corner of the end zone. With 5 seconds left, Nate Kaeding came on to try a chip-shot field goal. But two straight penalties lengthened Kaeding's kick, and a bobbled snap was blamed for the low kick that was deflected and fell short of the goal post.
"It would have been great to get the touchdown. That would have been real big," Ferentz said. "The field goal would have helped, too, but I'd like to think we had the mental toughness to play through it."
The Trojans took control in the third quarter, scoring on its first two possessions of the half. The Trojans marched 80 yards in 4:46 to take a 17-10 lead.
On its next possession, Southern California went 99 yards in 7 plays in a drive that exposed the toll that the Trojan rushing attack and humid South Florida weather had taken on the Iowa defense. The Trojans held the ball for 38:06 compared to 21:54 for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes were often their own worst enemy. Iowa was penalized 13 times for 85 yards, lost one fumble and failed to recover two Southern Cal fumbles.
"We had a month-and-a-half invested in this one and we all wanted to come out and play our best game of the year," Kaeding said. "But we shot ourselves in the foot quite a few times. We didn't play our best ball game of the year and we needed to do that to win this one."