Orange Crush: Trojans Trounce Iowa
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI - Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer played keepaway from BradBanks, and Southern California looked right at home playing in the Orange Bowlfor the first time.
Palmer dominated his duel with Heisman runner-up Banks, helping the No. 5Trojans to a 16-minute advantage in time of possession as they beatthird-ranked Iowa 38-17 Thursday night.
Palmer led scoring drives of 79, 80, 99, 85 and 61 yards, helping USC blowopen a game that was 10-all at halftime. He threw for 303 yards and a touchdownand was chosen the game's most valuable player.
Banks was limited to 204 yards passing and failed to lead Iowa's normallyhigh-powered offense into the end zone until the final minute.
The Hawkeyes' biggest play came when C.J. Jones returned the opening kickoff100 yards for a touchdown.
Southern California (11-2) beat a top 25 team for the seventh time thisseason. USC won its final eight games and snapped a nine-game winning streak byIowa (11-2).
The Trojans outscored UCLA, Notre Dame and Iowa 134-51 in their final threegames, a finish that may be impressive enough to vault them to second in thefinal rankings behind the Fiesta Bowl winner. It would be USC's highest finishsince 1979.
Palmer completed 21 of 31 passes, feasting on a defense that ranked last inthe Big Ten against the pass. His 65-yard bomb to Kareem Kelly set up SouthernCal's first score, but mostly Palmer made short throws to keep drives alive.
Banks, a Florida native playing with dozens of relatives in the stands, went15-for-36 and threw his first interception since Oct. 19.
Iowa's muscle was a concern for Southern California coming into the game,but instead the speedy Trojans wore down the Hawkeyes. USC mounted longtouchdown drives on each of its first three possessions in the second half andtotaled 363 yards in the second half.
The matchup was dubbed the Rose Bowl of the East because Pasadena is themore traditional postseason reward for both teams, but Southern Californiathrived in the unfamiliar setting. Justin Fargas rushed for 122 yards,including touchdowns of 4 and 50 yards. Teammate Mike Williams caught an18-yard touchdown pass, his 14th of the season to tie an NCAA freshman record.
Jones scored on the longest kickoff return in Orange Bowl history. But morethan 40,000 Iowa fans in attendance had little to cheer about after that.
While they sat mostly silent, such former Trojans stars as Keyshawn Johnson,Tony Boselli and Rodney Peete rooted from their team's sideline. There were nosightings of O.J. Simpson, who lives in Miami and showed up at a USC practicelast week.
The Hawkeyes were hurt by 13 penalties, two turnovers and several missedopportunities. In the first half they had first-and-goal at the 2 and at the 1,but they came away with only three points from the two possessions.
A sack by Matt Grootegoed stymied the first threat, and Iowa settled for a35-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding.
The Hawkeyes earned a first down at the 1 with 10 seconds left in the half,but after Banks overthrew Maurice Brown in the end zone, they sent in the fieldgoal team. Consecutive false-start penalties pushed the ball back to the 11,and Bernard Riley then blocked Kaeding's 29-yard attempt, ending the half withthe score tied.
Iowa never recovered from that deflating sequence. USC took the lead forgood by driving 80 yards on the first possession of the second half and scoringon Williams' acrobatic catch.
A punt then pinned the Trojans at their 1, and on third down a scramblingPalmer was stopped short of a first down. But Bob Sanders was flagged for alate hit, sustaining a drive that ended with Fargas' long touchdown sprint.
Another Iowa punt was followed by another USC score on Sultan McCullough's4-yard run.
Playing for the first time since Nov. 16, the Hawkeyes still managed a quickstart. Jones took the opening kickoff at the goal, broke into the clear thanksto a block by Jermelle Lewis, and scored untouched.
The Trojans quickly came back. Palmer's first pass was negated by a penalty.His second was the long strike to Kelly, setting up a 4-yard touchdown run byFargas.
USC spent much of the second quarter in Iowa territory but couldn't scoreuntil the final 72 seconds, when Ryan Killeen kicked a 35-yard field goal afterLewis lost a fumble at midfield.
The game was sponsored by FedEx.