The Good, Bad & Ugly 2019: Southern California

By Mike Jones on December 30, 2019 at 12:54 pm
© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: Nate Stanley, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, the Defensive Line

Nate Stanley will forever have a complicated legacy. There was inconsistency, especially in high profile Big Ten games, but there was also this:

The bowl games statistic is especially telling, as Stanley joins Ricky Stanzi as the only two quarterbacks to win three bowl games as a starter. Career-wise, Stanley completed 58.3% of his passes, averaged 211 yards a game and averaged 1.74 TDs to .58 INTs. In the three bowl games he started, he completed 64% of his passes, averaged 175 yards a game (that 99 yard performance in the Pinstripe Bowl really brought things down) and threw six TDs to one interception.  He went 3-0 in the postseason, beat two ranked teams in those bowls and, as quarterback, his teams won more games each successive year. That’s his legacy.

Wow. So, Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Wow.

Now, statistically this has been Ihmir’s best season. I mean, that’s to be expected when the other starting wide receiver goes down in an injury. But it’s not just a volume thing. Smith-Marsette has fully realized the “this guy has the potential to be a superstar playmaker” talk and has ran away with it. Again, it’s not just a volume thing. Because from his freshman year to junior year, his yards per catch average has increased from 10.4 to 16.4, he’s averaging 9.8 yards per carry on rushing plays (so, reverses and end arounds) and he’s averaging 29.6 yards per return on kickoffs. That’s first in the Big Ten and 7th in the nation. Just look:


Smith-Marsette had a receiving touchdown, a rushing touchdown, a kick return for a touchdown... and he almost had a passing touchdown!

Iowa will be looking for a new quarterback in 2020 but they’re well set at the playmaker position.

And it wouldn’t be a complete game without Iowa’s defensive line doing work. I'll be honest, I was concerned in the beginning. Because in the first half, Kedon Slovis was getting time and picking Iowa’s defense apart. He even did this when he was concussed and no one seemed to care about it because the Holiday Bowl is apparently that important. He was doing more of the same until A.J. Epenesa, who had already notched his 10th sack of the season earlier in the game, deployed his Kung Fu Action Grip and hit Slovis' arm mid-throw and forced him out of the game.

Eppy had 2.5 sacks, Golston had half a sack and a pass deflection and Lattimore had a tackle for loss. With Slovis, this game was competitive. Without him…well, you watched what happened.

The Bad: Crying Reggie Bush

To be honest, I posted this because I thought it was pretty funny that Reggie Bush, a supposedly objective commentator, was crying on TV about how far USC had fallen:

What I forgot is that Iowa fans and Iowans in general love playing the DIRESPEKT card and decided to jump all over FS1 and Reggie (and Matt Leinart to a lesser extent) for this caricature of a postgame show. If you’re going to employ talking heads, you should at least ask them to have a semblance of objectiveness. Crying about “we” and “us” is not objective. And even then, the fact that the entire postgame was talking about how bad USC looked, with little time spent crediting Iowa for their performance (I think saying someone outcoached someone else is backhanded, to be honest), was a bit embarrassing for Fox Sports.

Then again, they employed Tim McCarver, so what do I know?

The Ugly: It’s the Offseason :(

No more Hawkeye Football until 2020. Le sigh!

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