Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Cotton Bowl - Tulane vs. USC (1/2/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Cotton Bowl – Tulane vs. USC (1/2/2023)

By Ryan Potts
December 28, 2022

Tulane vs. USC (1/2 @ 1:00 p.m. EST.)

Line: USC -2
Total: 62

Tulane vs USC Breakdown and Betting Odds

The No.14 Tulane Green Wave (11-2) and No.8 USC Trojans (11-2) are playing in the Cotton Bowl Monday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The Trojans are 2-point favorites. The over/under is set at 62 points.

USC and Tulane have met three times in the past. In 1932, they played in the Rose Bowl with USC winning 21-12. They played again in 1942 with Tulane beating USC in Los Angeles. In 1946, USC exacted its revenge with a seven-point win in New Orleans.

Tulane Overview

Just one year after going 2-10, Tulane is enjoying one of its best seasons in program history. They have the second-most wins in program history, tying the 1931 team. With a win over USC, they would match their 1998 12-0 season. Tulane has been ranked since mid-October, the first time in the polls since 1998. Tulane just won their first AAC title, exacting revenge on UCF. They went 7-1 in the conference in the regular season, only losing to UCF. Their other loss was against Southern Mississippi. They have two notable wins, knocking off a now-ranked Kansas State and a then-ranked Cincinnati.

Tulane has ridden the wave of a productive offense to national relevance. Quarterback Michael Pratt has had a stellar season. He has launched 25 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more compared to just five interceptions. He averages 8.6 yards per attempt, completing 64.5% of his throws. On the ground, Tyjae Spears is the engine of the operation. Averaging 16.3 carries per game, Spears has poured in 1,376 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. His 6.5 per-carry clip is elite. Spears leads the American in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and he was AAC Player of the Year. In the passing game, Shae Wyatt leads the team with 35 catches and 692 yards while Duece Watts has scored eight touchdowns.

Defensively, Tulane is also strong. They have the No. 23 scoring defense, surrendering 20.5 points per game. They allow opposing offenses to gain 4.8 yards per play. Dorian Williams leads the team with 115 tackles. Nick Anderson is just behind him with 108 tackles. Williams and Macon Clark each have 8.0 or more tackles for loss. Williams and Darius Hodges have 5.0 sacks. Williams is also one of four Green Wave to have two interceptions.

For the season, Tulane is 11-2 ATS. In their last five games, Tulane is 4-1 ATS, only losing to UCF the first time. They have been favored in all five games, ranging from -1 against UCF and Cincinnati to -6.5 against Tulsa. The over is 4-1 in these games, only missing in Tulane’s win over Tulsa.

USC Overview

Lincoln Riley’s first season with the Trojans has been a resounding success. Beginning the year at No. 14 in the polls, USC opened with six consecutive wins to rise as high as No. 6. They lost by one in Salt Lake City to then-No. 20 Utah, falling to No. 10 in the polls. However, they rebounded to win their last four games in the Pac-12 to secure a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They advanced as far as 11-1, but Utah beat them again in the Pac-12 Championship Game to end the Trojans’ CFP hopes.

USC has been led by an unstoppable offense. They have scored 40 or more points in nine of 12 games. They are averaging 41.1 points per game. Heisman winner Caleb Williams has posted video-game numbers with an absurd 47 total touchdowns and four interceptions. He is averaging 9.1 yards per pass attempt, completing them at a 66.1% clip. On the ground, Travis Dye led the team with 884 yards and nine touchdowns. In the passing game, 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison has been the top option. He leads the Trojans with 59 catches, 875 yards, and eight receiving touchdowns.

USC’s defense has been crushed in the last few weeks, undermining a generally solid unit. They have slipped to 82nd in scoring defense, allowing 27.9 points per game. They have allowed 35 or more points in five games, but USC has scored at least 40 in the first four of those games. All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Tuli Tuipolotu has been the standout. He led the country with 12.5 sacks and led the conference with 21 tackles for loss. Tyrone Taleni tacked on 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. Solomon Byrd also has 7.5 tackles for loss. Calen Bullock has picked off five passes, and Mekhi Blackmon has three interceptions and 11 passes defended.

USC is 8-5 ATS, but they have covered in three of the last five games. However, the over is an incredible 10-3 in USC games, hitting in each of the last seven games. This week’s total of 62.5 will be the lowest in a USC game since their game against Cal. Every USC game this season has had a total above 60.

Free Pick: USC -2

USC has only lost to Utah this season, and they have been an offensive juggernaut. Assuming Williams plays, USC should have no issue scoring loads of points and Covering -2. Tulane will have their moments, but expect USC to win by a relatively small margin in a high-scoring affair in Texas.

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