USC vs. Tulane: TV info, betting odds, and expert predictions for the Cotton Bowl
The 10th-ranked USC Trojans (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12) take on the 16th-ranked Tulane Green Wave (11-2, 7-1 AAC) at the Cotton Bowl on Monday.
USC had eyes for the College Football Playoff until it was derailed in the Pac-12 Championship Game by Utah. As a result, it gets the American Athletic Conference champs. The Green Wave will be looking for a third-straight win over a ranked opponent.
This won’t be the first time Tulane coach Willie Fritz has tangled with USC’s Lincoln Riley.
The Green Wave went to Norman to start the 2021 season and gave the Oklahoma Sooners all they could handle. Tulane outscored OU 21-3 in the second half, but couldn’t quite complete a comeback and fell 40-35.
Quarterback Michael Pratt threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns that day. But the ground game was held in check — just 100 yards on 32 carries.
USC will see a slightly different attack on Monday.
Junior Tulane running back Tyjae Spears ran for a season-high 199 yards and a touchdown against UCF in the AAC championship game. It was his seventh consecutive 100-yard performance — the longest active streak in the FBS.
Spears finished second among all AAC backs in rushing yardage (1,376) and touchdowns (15). He forced 53 missed tackles during the regular season and had one of the highest offensive grades of any Group of Five running back, per Pro Football Focus.
Pratt has added 10 rushing touchdowns to go with 395 yards on 114 carries this season as Tulane builds off an RPO attack.
“They put you in constant conflict,” said USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. “The majority of their run game includes the RPO aspect of things, the ability to throw the ball down the field. So the easy answer is to try to get extra hats on (Spears). That’s difficult to do (while) being sound in the pass game, as well.”
Here’s everything you need to know for the game.
TV info and kickoff time
Kickoff time: 10 a.m. PT
TV network: ESPN; fans can also watch the game live on WatchESPN with a cable or satellite provider login
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington
Line: USC -2.5
Money line: USC -128, Tulane +106
ESPN’s FPI gives the Trojans a 58.4% chance of beating the Green Wave.
Bill Connelly’s SP+ picked USC to win 34-30.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg picked USC to win 41-38:
What an incredible season for Tulane and coach Willie Fritz, who went 2-10 last year and now return to a New Year’s Six-level bowl for the first time since the 1940 Sugar. USC was hoping for its first CFP appearance, so the Trojans’ motivation level will be a factor, as will some likely NFL draft opt-outs. But if a healthy quarterback Caleb Williams plays, USC should be able to move the ball, although Tulane’s defense has been very solid (20.5 ppg allowed, 342.3 ypg allowed). Quarterback Michael Pratt, running back Tyjae Spears and the Green Wave will pile up yards against a leaky USC defense, but I’m going with Williams and USC to win a high-scoring game.
247Sports’ Chris Hummer picked Tulane pull a 35-34 upset:
This game is going to feature a ton of points. It’s also an awesome QB matchup with Caleb Williams and Michael Pratt. Motivation always factors into games like this. USC is probably a bit disappointed to be in the Cotton Bowl. This is the highest possible honor for Tulane. I think we could see an upset here. Pratt and the Tulane offense score plenty and its defense does enough to win.
CBS Sports’ Chip Patterson was one of three on a seven-man panel to pick Tulane to win outright: