USC Trojans Topple Tulane: Cotton Bowl Picks

  • No. 10 USC (11-2) is a 2.5-point favorite over No. 16 Tulane (11-2)
  • Heisman winner Caleb Williams is ‘confident’ he will play despite nursing a hamstring injury
  • The Cotton Bowl Classic on ESPN kicks off from AT&T Stadium Stadium in Arlington, TX on Jan. 2, 2023 at 1pm E.T.

USC was just one victory away from a berth in the College Football Playoff. But after falling to Utah 47-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the No. 10 Trojans will now face No. 16 Tulane in the Cotton Bowl.

It sounds like Heisman winner Caleb Williams may suit up against an 11-win Green Wave team playing in its first New Year’s Six bowl game since the 1940s.

Before we check the odds for the January 2nd game, here’s where your can find the latest NCAAF betting opportunities and our guide to betting on the 2022 NCAAF National Championship.

USC (10) vs Tulane (17)

BetOnline ReviewSpreadMoney LineTotal Points
Tulane+2.5 (-108)Ov 63 (-110)
USC-2.5 (-112)Un 63 (-110)

Caleb in for Cotton Bowl?

Caleb Williams became the eighth Heisman winner in USC history (the most by any college football program), capturing over 88% of the vote. The sophomore quarterback passed for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 2022 while adding 372 rushing yards and 10 scores with his legs.

Williams injured his hamstring in the first quarter of the Trojans’ 47-24 loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship on December 2nd. Playing through the pain, the 20-year-old threw for 363 yards with three TDs and one pick. And it sounds like he plans to suit up against Tulane exactly one month later on January 2nd.

Tulane’s big bowl berth

Tulane thumped UCF 45-28 to win its first-ever AAC Championship and become the Group of Five representative this postseason. After finishing just 2-10 in 2021, the Green Wave finished 11-2 this year to capture the program’s first New Year’s Six bowl berth since the 1940 Sugar Bowl when it was a member of the SEC.

With quality linebackers in Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson, Tulane should be able to stop Williams from scrambling, especially with his banged up hamstring. The Green Wave held UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee to negative-7 rushing yards in the AAC title game.

USC TrojansTo Cover Spread
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Trojans vs Green Wave

USC is a 2.5-point favorite versus Tulane in the Cotton Bowl and the over-under is set at a robust 63 total points. That makes perfect sense given that 11 USC games have hit at least 62 combined points this season, as have three of the past four Tulane matchups.

Lincoln Riley presides over the nation’s No. 5-ranked total offense, which averaged 499.8 total offensive yards per game while racking up 67 total touchdowns in 2022. Tulane finished No. 33 in total defense in the FBS, permitting an average of 342.4 yards per contest. Their pass rush made contact with the opposing QB on 219 occasions in 2022. But, dealing with a healthy Williams will be their toughest challenge yet.

On the other side of the ball, the Trojans defense ranks 102nd (of 131 teams) with 415.1 yards allowed per contest, with the 12th-most missed tackles in FBS (141). USC could struggle to contain junior running back Tyler Spears. He has seven-straight 100-yard rushing games and the 11th-most evaded tackles in the nation (141) this season.

Best Bet

USC’s star receiver Jordan Addison may choose to opt out of the Cotton Bowl in anticipation of the NFL draft. With two senior running backs exiting the program, Riley is also turning the backfield over to five-star recruit Raleek Brown.

However, even with the changes on offense, it’s hard not to take the Trojans -2.5 if you believe Caleb Williams will play.

Final Score Prediction: USC 41, Tulane 27

USC vs Tulane-110
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Steve Starr

Steve is the quintessential American sports enthusiast. He has mastered the art of Sundays, devoting them to football, and barbecue parties. He proudly wears the hats of a good father, husband and a great dog owner. Aside from his decades of contributing to different top-tier sports publications, Steve has also found his niche on Twitter, where he publishes funny and relatable sports-related insights. When he's not busy tweeting, Steve loves to watch each game unfold live. He possesses an innate talent for finding humor in the sports world, appreciating both the thrilling moments and the comedic mishaps that make each event unique.