Many of you out there took a peak at the Cotton Bowl odds for USC vs. Tulane and were probably a little surprised. Tulane shocked the college football world as they won 11 games and took home the American Athletic Conference crown. Speaking of Conference Championship games, USC would likely be taking on Georgia in the Peach Bowl if they were able to defeat Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game.
Obviously, they did not do that, but it was still a successful first season for Lincoln Riley at USC. They can put an exclamation point on what is being looked at as the Trojans’ turn-around year with a win over the Green Wave in the Cotton Bowl.
Tulane vs. USC Betting Lines: Point Spread, Total, Moneyline
Check out the betting lines and odds from top US sportsbook apps for the Cotton Bowl.
NCAAF · Mon (1/2) @ 1:10pm ET
|AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX|
USC vs. Tulane Betting News: Key Trends
- The total has gone Over in USC’s last seven games
- USC is 0-1 against the spread (ATS) at a neutral site this season
- The total has gone Over in 10 of USC’s 13 games
- Tulane is 8-1 ATS in their last nine games
- The total has gone Over in six of Tulane’s last seven games
- Tulane is 5-0 ATS in their five games away from home this season
How to Watch Tulane vs. USC
Date: Monday, Jan. 2 | Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium: Dallas, TX
USC Trojans (11-2, 8-5 Against the Spread)
The first year under Lincoln Riley had high expectations after dominating the transfer portal, bringing many top-tier talents to USC, including Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, who played with Riley at Oklahoma last season.
The Trojans were able to deliver on those expectations, going 11-2, making it to the Pac-12 Championship game and being one win away from a berth to the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately for USC, they fell for the second time to Utah on the season, knocking them out of playoff discussions. Still, that does not diminish what USC was able to do this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
USC’s high-powered offense finished the season ranked in the top five for scoring (41.1), yards per game (500), yards per play (7.0), yards per pass (9.1), and points per play (0.573). The defense also took tremendous strides from last season, but it was a clear weak point in this roster as they allowed 28 points per game, 6.0 yards per play, and their tackling is among the worst in the Power Five.
This team was not ready to win it all because the defense was not good enough. But all they needed to do was beat Utah, and they would be in Ohio State’s place right now as the fourth-ranked team in the country, which is pretty remarkable considering where this team was last season.
If USC is going to win this game, they are going to do it with their high-powered offense led by Williams at quarterback and a plethora of talented skill players such as Mario Williams, Tahj Washington, and running back Austin Jones, who has filled in nicely for an injured Travis Dye. The Trojans will also need a much stronger effort from their secondary against this Tulane offense.
If USC tackles as poorly as they did against Utah, they might be in for another long night defensively.
Tulane Green Wave (11-2, 11-2 ATS)
Yes, you read that correctly.
Not only is Tulane an 11-win team for the first time since 1998 and only the third time ever, but they also covered at the same rate, which is widely impressive and indicative of just how special this season has been for the Green Wave.
They are winning games and have taken down some quality opponents along the way, including Kansas State, Memphis, SMU, and Cincinnati. They avenged their regular season loss to UCF in the AAC Championship with a 45-28 victory over the Golden Knights.
Tulane’s offense is led by running back Tyjae Spears, who rushed for 1,376 yards and 15 touchdowns and he added two receive touchdowns as well. Based on USC’s inability to stop the Utah running game late, Spears could be the key for Tulane capturing a 12-win season. Spears evaded 141 tackles on the season, and USC is ranked in the top 15 for missed tackles.
Luckily, Tulane also has a very effective passing attack, as they are picking up 8.1 yards per pass and are ranked 19th in interception percentage. Quarterback Michael Pratt has 25 touchdowns to only five interceptions on the season. Against teams ranked inside the top 25, he is averaging 8.4 yards per completion and has eight touchdowns to only one interception.
Cotton Bowl Prediction
Luckily for USC, Williams has already announced that he will be playing, but he suffered a pretty visible lower-body injury against Utah and that’s where the Trojans fell apart. If USC cannot keep its defense off the field, they will get bullied and this game will go like the Pac-12 Championship, where they just simply ran out of gas in the second half.
Now, Tulane is not as physical as Utah, but they have the skill players to keep up with USC’s explosive offense and their defense ranks in the top 25 in both EPA/play and yards per play, which should help cushion the blow of having to face this offense.
In games like this, where you have blue blood versus new blood, one team is playing like it’s the Super Bowl while the other team wants to win. USC had a trip to the College Football Playoffs in their grasp, and they just let it go. I have to imagine that is still lingering over their heads.
USC is already down Jordan Addison, who is sitting out for the NFL Draft, and I can see others following as we approach kickoff. Tulane has been the hot team to ride this year, and we will do it one final time this season.
Pick: Tulane +2.5; odds via BetMGM Sportsbook
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