SAN DIEGO — Nearly 30 years after Hayden Fry last worked a sideline in San Diego, the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes will remember their former coach when they play No. 22 USC in the Holiday Bowl on Friday night.
Iowa will remove the Tigerhawk decals from its helmets to honor Fry, who died on Dec. 17 at age 90. Fry introduced the logo during his 20-year tenure, which included trips to the Holiday Bowl in 1986, 1987 and 1991. The Hawkeyes will continue to wear the ANF (America Needs Farmers) stickers on their helmets, as well as one honoring former athletic director Bump Elliott, who died Dec. 7 at age 94.
Kirk Ferentz, in his 21st season as Iowa’s head coach, was an assistant to Fry for those first two Holiday Bowl teams and said the late coach loved coming to San Diego.
“The biggest thing is I think his impact just overriding with our program is so significant, and same thing with the Big Ten,” Ferentz said Thursday. “He changed Big Ten history in my opinion, and obviously changed Iowa football history forever. You know, his impact, and then on top his vision, whether it’s the Tigerhawk, ANF sticker. All those things that he was able to think about and see, that other people probably just didn’t have that ability. Yeah, he’s a huge reason why I’m here obviously. Every day, you think about that.”
Besides honoring Fry, Iowa (9-3) is looking for a 10-win season and to give senior quarterback Nate Stanley a third bowl victory in his career.
USC (8-4) has won three straight and five of six after a rough start that had fans calling for Clay Helton’s job. Many of those fans weren’t happy when new athletic director Mike Bohn announced on Dec. 4 that he was retaining Helton.
Here are some things to look for at the Holiday Bowl:
The Trojans would always prefer to go to the Rose Bowl, of course, where they capped the 2016 season with a 52-49 thriller against Penn State behind Sam Darnold. It’s been a tough go since then, as the Trojans were blown out by Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl the following season and then tumbled to 5-7 last year and missed the postseason. They’re in the Holiday Bowl for the third time in six years.
The Trojans need a win to validate Bohn’s decision to keep Helton and to give the young team a boost going into 2020.
“Since the day that Dr. Carol Folt, our president, and Mike Bohn, our athletic director, have come on campus, I have felt nothing but support,” Helton said. “You know, for them to be able to evaluate a season and say: ‘Hey, Coach Helton is our guy; we want to give him the tools and resources and support needed to be able to take that next step from a Top 25 team to a national championship team,’ is one that as a head coach, you’re very appreciative.”
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis took over after JT Daniels suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener and has thrown for 3,242 yards and 28 touchdowns, against nine interceptions. He’s coming off a school-record 515 yards as well as four touchdown passes in a 52-35 victory over UCLA.
Led by junior end A.J. Epenesa, Iowa ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense (13.2 points), 12th in total defense (304.3 yards) and 12th in passing defense (184.2 yards).
HAWKEYES SIGNAL CALLER
Senior Nate Stanley will become the fifth Iowa quarterback to start three bowl games, and he is looking for his third postseason victory. He has started 38 straight games, and the Hawkeyes have averaged 27.8 points in that streak. He’s thrown for 2,738 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, with seven interceptions.
“You don’t see them missing assignments or getting out of gaps and if they get you in third-and-long, they are elite,” Helton said.
Fans will be asked to do the “Iowa Wave” directed at patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital as well as representatives from two children’s hospitals in Southern California who will be at the game. The salute started on Sept. 2, 2017, when more than 70,000 fans stood at the end of the first quarter and waved to patients and families in the children’s hospital, which rises above Kinnick Stadium. The patients and families waved back. Ever since, players and coaches from both teams, game officials and others working the games join in the wave.
At the end of the first quarter at the Holiday Bowl, everyone in the stadium will be encouraged to stand and wave toward the east end video board that will feature the children and families at the Iowa City hospital. Sitting below the video board will be representatives from Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and individuals from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. FS1 plans to cover the event during the game broadcast so the children in Iowa City will see it.