Ihmir Smith-Marsette, meet the wider college football world. World, meet Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The Iowa wide receiver almost single-handedly beat No. 22 USC on Friday night, as his No. 16 Hawkeyes did pretty much what they wanted in all three phases of the game to lock up a convincing 49-24 win in the Holiday Bowl.
Smith-Marsette had his hand in just about everything, attempting a pass, returning a kickoff return for a 98 yard touchdown, rushing for a score and hauling in two catches for 46 yards and another touchdown. It was as an impressive performance as you’ll find so far this bowl season and just more of the same for the budding star plenty capable of reminding folks about a thing called B1G speed.
Not to be overshadowed, signal-caller Nate Stanley was fantastic as well in closing out his career with 213 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps more memorable for Iowa fans however were his big QB sneaks in the second half (including three straight in the red zone for a total of 10 yards) that later setup Tyler Goodson’s short plunge across the goal line. All those numbers would have been even more impressive had the team not had several short fields or had the game in hand well before the fourth quarter.
As good as things went for the Midwest visitors though, things went equally bad for the nominal home team from Southern California. Clay Helton ensured he’ll have the hottest seat of anybody once again in 2020 with a complete nosedive of a performance after what was initially a solid first quarter.
QB Kedon Slovis threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns but was knocked out with a shoulder/elbow injury in the second half while backup Matt Fink was far from the player who led the upset of Utah in relief, contributing a key fumble tossing a pick-six late. The Trojans defense failed to stop much of anything either with their undisciplined play either way as they forced just four punts and looked out place throughout.
If there was any silver lining at all for the cardinal and gold, at least they were able to take part in Iowa’s great tradition of waving at children from local hospitals (in both San Diego and Iowa City via video) prior to the start of the second quarter. Other than that though, USC fans that were hoping for a coaching change earlier this month were only reinforced in their belief about the state of the program not being what it historically has been up in Los Angeles.
The flip side was that the outing was a perfect way for Iowa to close out a 2019 campaign with 10 wins and celebrate their late, legendary head coach Hayden Fry with a performance befitting of his status in the game’s lore.