Fun Way To Start The Year
On paper, the match-up of Tulane and USC is one of the more interesting ones of the entire bowl season. It features a battle of big turnarounds from 2021 and two squads that put points on the board in a hurry. Let’s take a look at both teams and give you a prediction without the 2023 Cotton Bowl Classic Preview.
Scouting The Trojans
After going 4-8 in 2021 Lincoln Riley’s club comes into Monday sporting an 11-2 record. However, they are undefeated in 2022 against teams not named Utah. They dropped a 43-42 game on the road back in October. Despite the loss, they were in line for a college football playoff bid. It wasn’t to be as the Utes throttled USC in the Pac-12 title game 47-24.
The Trojans are led by Heisman winner Caleb Williams. On the season he threw for 4,075 yards and 40 touchdowns with only four interceptions. In addition, he ran for another 372 yards and 10 more scores. Williams suffered a hamstring injury in the Pac-12 title game but he’s expected to play. If for some reason he can’t go then Miller Moss gets the nod.
Their running attack was led by Travis Dye, who gained 884 yards and nine touchdowns. However, he’s out for the season after suffering a leg injury against Colorado. Austin Jones is the main running back now. He’s gained 644 yards and scored five touchdowns.
Leading receiver Jordan Addison won’t play on Monday while he continues rehabbing an ankle injury. For the year he hauled in 59 passes for 875 yards and eight touchdowns. With Addison out, Tahj Washington and Mario Williams are the top receivers with 45 and 34 receptions respectively.
USC will be without two key members on the offensive line as well. First-team All-America guard Andrew Vorhees opted out to prepare for the NFL draft while rehabbing an injury. In addition, third-team All-American center Brett Neilon isn’t recovered enough from a knee injury he suffered in the Pac-12 championship game.
As we continue our 2023 Cotton Bowl Classic Preview let’s look at the AAC Champions.
Riding The Wave
Tulane is one of the best stories of the 2022 college football season. Under Willie Fritz, the Green Wave went 11-2 and won the American Athletic Conference title. This comes on the heels of going 2-10 in 2021. With it, they earned the Group Of Five bid to the Cotton Bowl. Their signature win came when they knocked off Big 12 Champion Kansas State on the road. Furthermore, they finished with a flourish by beating Cincinnati on the road then avenging an earlier loss to Central Florida 45-28 in the AAC title game.
Quarterback Michael Pratt leads the Tulane attack. So far in 2022, he’s thrown for 2,775 yards and 25 touchdowns with five picks. In addition, he ran for another 395 yards and 10 touchdowns. He gave Tulane fans an early Christmas present when he announced he was coming back for 2023.
AAC Offensive player of the year Tyjae Spears leads the running game. On the year he rushed for 1,376 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. He also found the end zone 15 times then added two more receiving. Shae Wyatt leads the receiving corps with 35 catches for 692 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball linebacker, Dorian Williams leads the defense with 115 tackles while Nick Anderson is close behind with 108. Tulane finished 35th in the nation giving up 342 yards a game.
Continuing on with our 2023 Cotton Bowl Classic Preview let’s look at the bowl history of both schools.
Series And Bowl History
Monday marks the fourth meeting all-time between the two schools with USC holding a 2-1 lead. Although, they haven’t met since 1946. The Trojans won the 1932 Rose Bowl 21-12. They next met 1o year later with the Green Wave winning in Los Angeles 27-13. USC won the last meeting in New Orleans 27-13.
USC’s making their 56th bowl appearance with a very impressive 35-20 record. This is their third trip to the Cotton Bowl going 1-1 in their previous games. They beat Texas Tech 55-14 in 1995 and lost to Ohio State 24-7 in 2017.
On the other side of the ball, the Cotton Bowl marks Tulane’s first major bowl appearance since losing to Texas A&M 14-13 in the 1940 Sugar Bowl. Overall they are 6-8 in bowl games and this is their first time in the Cotton Bowl.
Now that we’ve previewed both teams and given you some history it’s prediction time with our 2023 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Preview.
Who Wins On Monday?
USC ranks third in the country scoring 41 points per game. In fact, Tulane is great at pressuring the quarterback garnering six sacks in the AAC title game. For those that watched the Pac-12 championship game, the Trojans had trouble tacking Utah, and that’s putting it mildly. Although, they had 24 missed tackles in that contest. Spears has to be excited to see what he can do as he forced the 11th most missed tackles in football. Both teams are very good at turning their opponents over, and whoever wins that battle likely wins the Cotton Bowl.
For folks that believe this is an easy win for USC, you are mistaken. Their win at Kansas State should prove that. Meanwhile, the Trojans have scored at will this year and if Williams is healthy they should do it on Monday. They win in what should be a very entertaining game.
Thanks for checking out our 2023 Cotton Bowl Classic Preview here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the game with a wrap-up.