The quotable comes from the first “Batman,” you remember, the good one with Jack Nicholson hamming it up as the Joker.
Batman skunked the Joker, again, with some sort of kooky gadget. The Joker looked up and uttered “Where does he get all those wonderful toys?”
Thursday night, Southern California played Batman. The Hawkeyes capped a wonderful season playing the Joker, wondering where USC found all those wonderful toys.
No, not another pained and convoluted Orange Bowl halftime theme.
This was the real-live Orange Bowl.
USC quarterback Carson Palmer didn’t need Batman’s utility belt. He used his arm, his Heisman Trophy-winning arm, and No. 5 USC used its speed to outclass the Hawkeyes, 38-17, in the 69th Orange Bowl before an Iowa-dominated sell-out crowd of 75,971.
Palmer completed 20 of 31 for 303 yards and one touchdown to lead the Trojans (11-2), who put themselves in position to be the best team in the country that’s not playing in tonight’s Fiesta Bowl national championship game.
USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow pressed the button and set off a perpetual motion offense that was too much.
“Their running game was crisp,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But we didn’t do much on offense to help our defense, either.”
The Hawkeyes (11-2) had their magic-carpet ride of a season end out on a line with the dust being beaten off it.
Quarterback Brad Banks’ trip through the light fantastic ended with a jolt. Banks, playing just an hour from his hometown, Belle Glade, completed 15 of 36 passes for 204 yards, a touchdown and a TD, a late ego-soother to wideout Mo Brown.
There was no flow or rhythm to his game. Of course, when there was, the Trojans seemed to find a way to change the record.
Banks finished second to Palmer in the Heisman balloting. He finished a distant second to Palmer Thursday, with Palmer claiming the Orange Bowl MVP.
“I was rushing it a little bit,” Banks said. “I wasn’t taking my time. One of our goals was to play in 2003 and win and we came up short. It was a great run.”
Trojans tailback Justin Fargas led a USC rush that reduced Iowa’s No. 2 national rush defense to rubble. Fargas gained 122 yards and scored a pair of TDs on 20 carries.
The Trojans rolled up 550 yards of offense, the most the Hawkeyes have given up this season. They rushed for 247 yards, the most the Hawkeyes have given up. The Hawkeyes were penalized 13 times for 85 yards, the most the Hawkeyes have been penalized this year.
Sense a theme here. A theme that was all bad for Iowa.
This was the nightmare scenario for Iowa.
USC running the ball meant the passing game would open up for Palmer. That meant long, sustained drives and a gassed Iowa defense.
Iowa’s defense was Gatorade and pride after USC won a lopsided time of possession battle, 38:06 to 21:54.
The Trojans’ defense, perhaps the least-heralded unit coming into the Orange Bowl, gummed up the Hawkeyes.
Running back Fred Russell led Iowa with 45 yards on nine carries.
The Trojans went the entire season without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
The Hawkeyes managed just 323 yards offense, a lot of which came on a meaningless TD drive late in the fourth quarter.
Last season, Iowa won the Alamo Bowl and spun it into a school-record 11-1 season and 8-0 run to a Big Ten co-championship.
“It’s not much fun to be on this end,” said Ferentz, whose team tasted defeat for the first time in nine games. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been in one of these.”
The Orange Bowl was Iowa’s worst loss since a 38-10 loss to Ohio State in 2000.
They can trot out the Nov. 16 excuse. The Hawkeyes last played Nov. 16, 48 days ago. It’s a valid excuse, maybe, but they’d toss it back in your face.
The only spark Iowa had came on the opening kickoff. Wideout C.J. Jones bolted 100 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Until late in the game, Iowa’s special teams led Iowa’s offense, 7-3. A spring game nightmare come true.
Let’s get to perhaps the ugliest and most galling aspect of Iowa’s performance.
Whatever you want to call it, 13 penalties are ugly in every coach’s playbook. They were particularly galling Thursday
because the majority were of the false start, offsides variety.
“We weren’t sharp out there, we weren’t where we had to be,” Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes talked straight all season. Thursday night, the didn’t mince words about their performance.
“We weren’t playing Iowa football,” defensive tackle Colin Cole said. “The mistakes we made were all our fault.”
The game started as if it belonged on an all-weather track.
Iowa loves winning the coin toss. The Hawkeyes fans cheered lustily when Iowa won the toss, leaving USC’s radio team wondering what they’d missed.
They didn’t miss Jones.
Jones took the opening kickoff 100 yards for a 7-0 Iowa lead. It was the first opening kick returned for a TD and the longest kick return in Orange Bowl history.
Jones started straight up the middle and then veered left off the wedge, following a block by linebacker Grant Steen. Jermelle Lewis, the other returner, set up Jones up the left sideline, laying out two USC defenders.
Then, it was all Jones, who left USC kicker Ryan Kileen spinning his wheels. who left USC kicker Ryan Kileen spinning his wheels.
The Trojans didn’t quiver, tying the game 7-7 on their first possession. They didn’t get this far on reputation.
They came back behind Palmer, the likely No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in April.
After the Hawkeyes were called for a holding penalty on first down, Palmer dropped a 65-yard bomb to wideout Kareem Kelly, who beat cornerback D.J. Johnson on a post route.
Even with that, the Hawkeyes felt compelled to lay down a red carpet.
The drive lasted just seven plays, but somehow the Hawkeyes were called for three penalties, including Steen’s pass
interference that the Trojans first down at Iowa’s 2.
After Cole picked up one of the Hawkeyes three first-quarter sacks, tailback Justin Fargas smashed in from 4-yards, tying the game 7-7.
The 65-yard completion was Palmer’s longest this season, beating a 61-yarder.
The Trojans learned their lesson and kicked short, avoiding Jones. But fullback Edgar Cervantes returned the ball 15 yards, giving Iowa great field position at its 44.
The drive didn’t end the way they wanted it to, but the Hawkeyes did get something out of it. Nate Kaeding’s 35-yard
field goal gave Iowa a 10-7 lead with 6 minutes, 26 seconds left in the first quarter.
Late in the first half, Banks converted a third-and-10 with a 10-yard completion to wideout Ed Hinkel, giving Iowa first-and-goal at USC’s 1. But a false start pushed the Hawkeyes back and USC blocked Kaeding’s field goal attempt and took the momentum into the second half.