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College Football | ORANGE BOWL NOTES

Hawkeyes Have Fan Advantage

January 02, 2003|Rob Fernas and Gary Klein | Times Staff Writers

MIAMI — Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz hopes the Hawkeyes can benefit from a large turnout of fans for the Orange Bowl.

According to reports, Iowa could have as many as 50,000 fans for tonight's game at 72,230-seat Pro Player Stadium.

"That will help us," Ferentz said. "There's no question our team is energized by our great fan base. That's been a strong tradition at Iowa."

With that in mind, Ferentz would like to see the Hawkeyes get off to a good start in order to get the crowd involved early.

"It's like when you play on the road," he said. "You're always trying to get off to a quick start to take the [home] crowd out of it. It will have just the opposite effect if we can come out and get things going and get our fans into it."

USC Coach Pete Carroll said he wasn't concerned about losing the crowd battle.

"[Iowa] may outnumber us, but our fans are always apparent," Carroll said. "It's not anything unusual for us."

With the high demand for tickets in Iowa, some Hawkeye fans were able to buy their tickets through USC.

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USC and Iowa have played each other eight times but never in a bowl game.

USC has won six of the eight games, including a 55-0 victory in the most recent meeting in 1976.

Senior Ricky Bell rushed for 119 yards, freshman Charles White rushed for 120 yards and quarterback Rob Hertel passed for four touchdowns as the Trojans rolled to their largest margin of victory since 1931.

Iowa upset No. 12 USC, 20-14, at the Coliseum in 1950 and held on for a 35-34 victory in 1961.

Both teams are 0-4 in games played in Florida.

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USC kicker Ryan Killeen intends to show that Iowa's Nate Kaeding is not the only kicker worth watching tonight.

Kaeding won the Lou Groza Award as the nation's best kicker after converting 20 of 22 field-goal attempts and 55 of 56 extra points.

Killeen is 15 of 21 on field-goal attempts and 42 of 44 on extra points. After missing his first attempt in the regular-season finale against Notre Dame, he made field goals of 22, 27 and 29 yards.

"It's a good opportunity for all of our special teams to prove we've gotten better," Killeen said. "I hope I get a chance to kick early. That's always a good thing if you're going to be needed later."

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USC receiver Kareem Kelly needs one catch to become the school's all-time receptions leader.

Kelly, a senior, is tied with Johnnie Morton at 201 receptions. He is 171 yards shy of Morton's USC record of 3,201.

One catch also will give Kelly a reception in an NCAA-record 47 consecutive games.

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Perhaps the best gauge of Iowa's success has been the play of Dallas Clark, a former walk-on who this season won the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.

Iowa is 16-0 the last two seasons when Clark has caught at least three passes in a game. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound junior is second on the team with 39 catches for 645 yards, a 16.5-yard average.

While Carroll believes USC can match up with Iowa's wide receivers, he said, "that doesn't mean we can handle the tight end."

"I think he's terrific," Carroll said of Clark. "He's probably the best tight end we've played against."

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Ferentz downplayed reports that some Iowa defenders have said they intend to injure USC quarterback Carson Palmer to take him out of the game.

"I hope nobody used the words, 'Take out Palmer,' " Ferentz said. "I don't think that's our intent at all. When he has the ball, we're going to try to hit him, just like anybody else who's carrying the football."

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Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Palmer, has attracted a lot of attention in his return to Florida. Banks' hometown of Belle Glade is about an hour's drive from Miami.

"I know he's getting hammered pretty good going in and out of the hotel for autographs and things like that," Ferentz said. "I think Brad has handled it very well."

With 12 Floridians on Iowa's roster, Ferentz hopes an Orange Bowl appearance will help the Hawkeyes continue their successful recruiting in the Sunshine State.

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Ferentz said that tailback Fred Russell, who has rushed for 1,219 yards despite being slowed by various injuries this season, is healthy for today's game.... USC is 25-15 in bowl games, the sixth-best winning percentage (.625) for schools with more than 10 bowl appearances. Iowa is 9-7-1 in bowls.... Iowa has a 27-31-1 all-time record against Pacific 10 Conference teams. The Hawkeyes' last bowl game against a Pac-10 opponent was a 17-7 loss to Arizona State in the 1997 Sun Bowl.

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