The dominoes dropped on USC football. Now it’s a Wave. Here, we have a USC vs. Tulane score prediction.
Losing to Utah in the PAC-12 championship game sent the Utes to the Rose Bowl against Penn State.
It cost the Trojans a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff, and let Ohio State in.
Now the Trojans are heading to Jerry World, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the 87th Cotton Bowl Classic January 2 against this year’s Group 5 representative Tulane.
It counts as a famed “New Years Six” bowl for the 11-2 Trojans and comes with a nice payday and all that. By the time the game kicks off Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams will probably have a Heisman Trophy on his resume, unless he decides to skip the game and get ready for the NFL Draft.
In other words, there are lots of reasons to be excited about the Cotton Bowl, and a few reasons not to be. A quick search found plenty of tickets available, some for as little as $10. Remember, Jerry World is big. Tulane, the Green Wave, are champions of the AAC and are 11-2, but hardly a draw. This will be the biggest game for the program in over 20 years.
It’s the 56th bowl game for USC in program history and just the 16th for Tulane. The two teams haven’t met since 1946.
How To Watch
Kickoff: 10 a.m. local time
Screens: Find it on ESPN and ESPN app
Announcers: To be determined. I’m available if needed.
What Do The Oddsmakers Say?
Both DraftKings and Caesars list Southern Cal as a 1.5-point favorite early. Caesars has the over/under total at 62. DraftKings lists the over/under total at 61.5. Williams has emerged as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at most sportsbooks after being in the middle of the pack for much of the year.
Key Numbers – Spread Talking
Tulane has gone a whopping 11-2 against the spread this season. Southern Cal has gone 8-5.
Key Numbers – Talking It Over/Under
62 points is a big number. In USC’s 13 games this season, 11 have tied or gone over 62 points. Five of the Green Wave’s 13 points have gone over 62 points. Seven of Tulane’s 13 games have hit the over number in 2022.
This is a classic offense vs. defense match-up. Southern Cal’s offense is, in a word, amazing. The defense…not so much.
Williams set the USC record for total number of touchdowns this season (47) and has thrown for 4,075 yards. The Heisman ceremony is Saturday at 5 p.m. Williams better have a speech ready.
The strength of Tulane is its defense and running game. Junior running back Tyjae Spears ran for 1,376 yards this season, 13th in the nation. The Green Wave’s defense ranks 25th in the country allowing 20.4 points a game.
So the match-up to watch is the USC offense against the Tulane defense.
Tulane was a college football power about 80 years ago, playing in the very first Sugar Bowl in 1935. They’ve played Southern Cal three times. USC won 21-12 in Pasadena in 1932. Tulane beat the Trojans in Pasadena in 1942, 27-13, and USC beat Tulane 20-13 in 1946.
USC is making its third appearance all-time in the Cotton Bowl Classic. USC won the Cotton Bowl in 1994. It played Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl in 2017 and lost 24-7.
USC is 35-20 all-time in bowl games. Tulane is 6-9. This is the first time the Green Wave has played in the Cotton Bowl.
Everything You Want to Know About Tulane
Tulane is a liberal arts school in New Orleans with an undergraduate enrollment of 14,000. My sister went there. I grew up nearby, so I am the biggest Tulane authority you ever met.
Tulane was a charter member of the Southeastern Conference but left the conference at the end of the 1964 season looking for independent schedule. It felt it was a national program at the time (honestly, it was) but over time the fan base and success waned.
It played home games at Tulane Stadium (which hosted multiple Super Bowls) and then shared the Superdome with the Saints. Now it plays in a 30,000-seat on-campus stadium that opened in 2014. It does not sell out.
Tulane is coached by Willie Fritz who had great success at the FCS level before coming to Tulane in 2016. When he started with the Green Wave they ran a triple-option attack, but now are more pro style.
Tulane joined the American Athletic Conference in 2014. They are one of the best stories in college football this year. They were 2-10 last year and are now 11-2. This is their best season since 1998, when they went undefeated, beat BYU in the Liberty Bowl and finished No. 6 in the AP Poll.
The Green Wave have olive blue and green jerseys with an “Angry Wave” mascot. The big cheer is called the Hullabaloo.
The X Factor
Well, isn’t it obvious? This game hinges on how interested Southern Cal is in the outcome. The way the current college football system is structured, the best school in the Group of 5 (last year it was Cincinnati) gets a crack at one of the Power Five in a prominent bowl game.
The Group of Five conferences are the American, Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt. The rep usually doesn’t fare well.
Cincinnati got spanked by Alabama, 27-6, in last year’s CFP semifinals. In 2020, Cincinnati again represented the Group of 5 and lost to Georgia. In 2019, Penn State spanked Memphis. Then in 2018, LSU beat Central Florida.
You get the drift.
Tulane won’t be as athletic, or big as USC. It won’t be as talented, but it has a lot to play for. The defense is legit. Tulane beat Big 12 conference finalist Kansas State this year.
But USC should have enough horses to win this game if they come to play. That’s the big If for Southern Cal. This is not where the Trojans want to be or expected to be, but this is how the dominoes fell.
USC vs. Tulane score prediction
With all that said, I still think USC comes through with a rather comfortable win: 31-17. I think the Trojans may start off slow, but pick things up at the end of the game and the USC defense is overdue for a good performance.