2023 Cotton Bowl Preview: Tulane Green Wave vs. USC Trojans

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The 2023 Cotton Bowl is a fascinating matchup. The stakes might not be as high as they are in the playoff semifinals, or in the Tennessee-Clemson and Penn State-Utah New Year’s Six bowl games, but the nature of the battle is something football fans are going to love. This is not a game casual fans will watch, but football diehards who love the sport will really be excited about.

Tulane Green Wave vs. USC Trojans – 2023 Cotton Bowl

Date: Monday, January 2, 2023 – 1:00 PM ET

Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

NCAA Football Odds: Trojans -1.5

Trends, Splits

The Green Wave are 5-0 away from home this season, 5-0 against the spread.

The Trojans are 4-2 straight up away from home this season, 3-3 against the spread.

Tulane is 8-2 straight up in its last 10 games, 8-2 ATS. USC is 8-2 in its last 10, 5-5 ATS.

This is the fourth meeting between the two schools. They last played in 1946. USC won, 20-13. USC leads the series, 2-1.

Tulane Green Wave

The Tulane Green Wave are in a New Year’s Six bowl game for the first time since the 1940 Sugar Bowl. It has been over 80 years since Tulane played in a bowl game of this size and stature. Tulane coach Willie Fritz has done a tremendous job at Tulane. The Green Wave previously made bowl games in three consecutive seasons in Fritz’s tenure. The program had never done that before. Now Fritz has carried the Green Wave to an American Athletic Conference championship. Tulane beat UCF in the AAC Championship Game, winning the team’s first conference championship since 1998 (in Conference USA) and its second conference title since 1949.

This is just the third season in Tulane football history, dating back to the start of the program’s existence in 1893, with 11 or more wins. This is very rare territory for Tulane, which is one part of what makes this bowl game so special – mostly for the team itself, but also for national college football fans who will be interested to see how the team handles the moment and the big stage.

USC Trojans

The Trojans were 4-8 one year ago. In one year, they improved by seven wins and will try to make it eight wins in the Cotton Bowl. The oddsmakers at the best betting sites didn’t foresee such an impressive turnaround.

New coach Lincoln Riley engineered a complete overhaul of the roster. At least 20 roster spots were turned over. The Trojans went into the transfer portal and got a lot of players while encouraging a lot of former players from the 2021 roster to leave. The transfers made the difference for this team in 2022.

Caleb Williams was a transfer from Oklahoma. He won the Heisman Trophy and gave USC its eighth Heisman winner of all time, a record among all schools in college football.

Travis Dye and Austin Jones gave USC a big lift as transfer running backs, though Dye is injured and unable to play.

Jordan Addison transferred from Pittsburgh and improved USC’s passing game. He was Caleb Williams’ favorite receiver to throw to.

Linebacker Eric Gentry transferred from Arizona State and helped USC’s mediocre defense.

Cornerback Mekhi Blackmon transferred from Colorado and improved USC’s subpar secondary.

The Trojans made the Pac-12 Championship Game but lost to Utah. They enter this game with Williams expected to play after suffering a hamstring injury against Utah. However, center Brett Neilon and offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees are both out with injuries. Tulane will need to take advantage of these injuries and outplay USC’s offensive line if it wants to win. Expect a ton of points on both sides.

Green Wave vs. Trojans Prediction:

Trojans 52, Green Wave 45