2003 FedEx Orange Bowl
69th Orange Bowl
BCS Bowl Game
1234 Total
Iowa 10007 17
USC 731414 38
DateJanuary 2, 2003
StadiumPro Player Stadium
LocationMiami Gardens, Florida
MVPCarson Palmer (USC QB)
FavoriteUSC by 4.5 (55.5) [1]
National anthemPHIL PHIL MM.
RefereeJack Childress (ACC)
Halftime showDefault, Shaggy
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersTim Brant (play-by-play)
Ed Cunningham (analyst)
Sam Ryan (sideline)
Nielsen ratings9.7[2]
Orange Bowl
 < 2002  2004

The 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl was the 69th edition of the college football bowl game, played at Pro Player Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Thursday, January 2. It matched the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big Ten Conference and the USC Trojans of the Pacific-10 Conference. Tied at halftime, favored USC pulled away in the second half to win, 38–17.[3]

Televised in the United States on ABC, the game was part of the 2002–03 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) of the 2002 NCAA Division I-A football season and represented the concluding game of the season for both teams.


Main article: 2002 NCAA Division I-A football season

Prior to the BCS, the New Year's Day pairings never would have occurred. The Rose Bowl normally features the champions of the Big Ten (in 2002, the Ohio State Buckeyes) and the Pac-10. However, because the Buckeyes had finished No. 2 in the BCS, they were set to play in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship against the Miami Hurricanes.[4]

The Orange Bowl had the next pick after the Fiesta, and No. 3 (#5 BCS) Iowa was chosen. The Rose Bowl had the next BCS selection. The next, best available team to choose was No. 8 (#7 BCS) Oklahoma, who won the Big 12 Championship Game, to play Pac-10 winner Washington State in the Rose Bowl. When it came time for the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl to make a second pick, both wanted USC. However, a BCS rule stated that if two bowls want the same team, the bowl with the higher payoff has the option.[5] The Orange Bowl immediately extended an at-large bid to the #5 Trojans and paired them with at-large #3 Iowa in a Big Ten/Pac-10 "Rose Bowl" matchup in the Orange Bowl.[5] Rose Bowl committee executive director Mitch Dorger was not pleased with the results.[5] This left the Sugar Bowl with #14 BCS Florida State, the winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notre Dame at 10–2 and No. 9 in the BCS standings was invited to the Gator Bowl. Kansas State at No. 8 also was left out.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Main article: 2002 Iowa Hawkeyes football team

The Hawkeyes tied for the Big Ten conference championship with Ohio State, and they did not meet this season. Iowa's only setback was a five-point loss to in-state rival Iowa State in mid-September.

USC Trojans

Main article: 2002 USC Trojans football team

On October 5, in the 300th game for USC on live television, the Trojans lost 30–27 in overtime at Washington State. The Cougars scored with 1:50 left to play to force overtime. The two tied for first place in the Pac-10, but the Cougars won the tie-breaker by virtue of the head-to-head victory. The final game of the conference season was moved to December 2, with WSU at UCLA. Originally it was thought that the Bruins would be the team playing for the Rose Bowl. A 52–21 loss to USC put the Bruins out of contention and the Trojans and Cougars in.[6] The Cougars defeated UCLA 48–27 in Pasadena to advance to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day; it was the final game for UCLA head coach Bob Toledo, who was soon fired.

This was only the second time a Pac-10 team appeared in the Orange Bowl; eighteen years earlier, Washington won in January 1985.

Game summary


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics IOWA USC
First downs 18 30
Plays–yards 58–323 80–550
Rushes–yards 22–119 49–247
Passing yards 204 303
Passing: comp–att–int 15–36–1 21–31–0
Time of possession 21:54 38:06
Team Category Player Statistics
Iowa Passing Brad Banks 15/36, 204 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing Fred Russell 9 car, 45 yds
Receiving Dallas Clark 4 rec, 97 yds
USC Passing Carson Palmer 21/31, 303 yds, 1 TD
Rushing Justin Fargas 20 car, 122 yds, 2 TD
Receiving Mike Williams 6 rec, 99 yds, 1 TD


  1. ^ "Orange Bowl Odds: College football". Vegasinsider. January 1, 2003. p. C10. Archived from the original on October 26, 2020. Retrieved October 24, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "BCS Game Results". orangebowl.org. September 26, 2007. Archived from the original on June 2, 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  3. ^ "Iowa (3) 17, USC (5) 38". SI.com. January 3, 2003. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  4. ^ 2002 BCS Standings
  5. ^ a b c Rosenblatt, Richard – BCS: Orange Bowl has a Rosy look Associated Press, December 9, 2002
  6. ^ Whiteside, Kelly – USC biggest question mark of teams jockeying for BCS. USA Today, December 2, 2002. Archived November 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b "Game-by-game recaps: 2003" (PDF). 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl media guide. January 2019. p. 45.