Iowa beats Southern California in Holiday Bowl: Ihmir Smith-Marsette dazzles
SAN DIEGO — If the Holiday Bowl was a showcase for a wide receiver with NFL talent, that person was clearly Iowa’s Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The Hawkeyes junior scored three touchdowns in the second quarter Friday as No. 19 Iowa beat No. 23 Southern California 49-24 victory at SDCCU Stadium.
First, it was a 6-yard rush around the left end to put the Hawkeyes up 14-7.
When the Trojans tied the score at 14, Smith-Marsette took the ensuing kickoff at his 2-yard line and noticed a big mistake in the USC coverage. There were only two players converging on Smith-Marsette from his left and he headed that way, avoided one tackle and outsprinted everyone else for a 98-yard touchdown, flashing a "V" sign on his way in. It was the second consecutive game with a kick return score for Smith-Marsette.
Finally, Smith-Marsette gathered a simple screen pass at the line of scrimmage, hesitated while his blockers got into position and sprinted through a big hole for a 12-yard touchdown.
That was three touchdowns in three different ways.
And the scary thought for USC?
Smith-Marsette had earlier in the second quarter taken a handoff and ran to his right before lofting a pass to Brandon Smith that was nearly a touchdown.
Smith-Marsette showed he could do it all. For good measure, he caught a 34-yard pass to set up Iowa's fifth touchdown.
USC all-American wide receiver Michael Pittman, meanwhile, was held to two catches for eight yards in the first half. He fumbled in the third quarter.
It wasn’t his night. The stage in San Diego belonged to Smith-Marsette.
Iowa won its final four games to finish 10-3. It was a third consecutive bowl victory for the Hawkeyes.
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.