Well, this isn't exactly what USC fans wanted to see after it was announced that coach Clay Helton would be retained moving forward. Facing off against No. 16 Iowa, the No. 22 Trojans not only got embarrassed in the Holiday Bowl 49-24, they lost their quarterback Kedon Slovis to a severe right arm injury.
Slovis was hurt during the third quarter of Friday's game when he was hit by Hawkeyes defensive end A.J. Epenesa as he was attempting a pass. The freshman was taken to the medical tent but never returned to the game as trainers examined his right elbow and shoulder. Officially, Slovis was diagnosed with a sprained right elbow and shoulder. Matt Fink, who earlier this season replaced Slovis against Utah, came off the bench to finish the game. Slovis was having a sharp evening against the Hawkeyes, throwing for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns at the time of the injury. Fink ... not so much. He finished with 76 yards and a pick-six.
It's a tough end to the season for Slovis, who was a small bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming 8-5 effort for the Trojans. Initially the backup for Week 1 behind J.T. Daniels, Slovis was asked to start for USC after Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the season-opener against Fresno State. In his first start against Stanford, he threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns. On three more occasions, he eclipsed the 400-yard mark through the air and tossed for a career-high 515 yards in a season-ending win over UCLA. Above all, he's been a great fit in Graham Harrell's Air Raid offense.
That should continue in 2020. Truly, Slovis has the the chance to be the best quarterback for the Trojans in at least a decade. But for now, this is a bitterly disappointing end not only for him but for USC's season.
Iowa, on the other hand, looked nothing like the team that scored just 23.8 points per game on the season. The win over the Trojans marked the most points scored by the Hawkeyes all season. While not all of them were on offense, this was a fun, creative display of play-calling highlighted by quarterback Nate Stanley having a solid game (213 yards passing, 2 TDs) and receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette doing a little bit of everything. Smith-Marsette ended the night with three touchdowns: one receiving, one rushing and one on special teams. Per Jason Starrett of The Athletic, Smith-Marsette became the first FBS player to score a touchdown in all three of those ways since Deuce McAllister did so for Ole Miss in the 1998 Independence Bowl vs. Texas Tech.
The win moves Iowa to 10-3 on the season, giving coach Kirk Ferentz his second 10-win season of the decade. USC falls to 8-5, but at least recruiting is going