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Goodyear Cotton Bowl: Tulane Green Wave vs USC Trojans Best Bets and Prediction

It’s been a remarkable season for the Tulane Green Wave, who secured the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six bid and will play the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl.

The Tulane Green Wave had a remarkable season and secured one of six best bowl bids of the season and a date with the USC Trojans. Each team had big turnarounds, and for Tulane, it saved Willie Fritz’s job, while Southern Cal turned it around in Lincoln Riley’s first year as head coach.

The NCAAf schedule is winding down, but the first slate of college games in 2023 brings a loaded schedule. And it begins early as the Cotton Bowl will kick off the proceedings and will lead into the Rose Bowl.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl odds show the USC Trojans as two-point favorites with an over/under of 64 points. The Green Wave are +110 on the moneyline while the Trojans are -130 on the moneyline.

It is unclear if Heisman finalist Caleb Williams will play for the Trojans, but his status is important to watch before making Tulane vs USC Trojans best bets. He is one of a number of college football injuries, and is listed as probable with a hamstring injury as of Tuesday’s update.

Best NCAAF Picks Bowl Season

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl features teams from different financial backgrounds as the Tulane Green Wave, of the American Athletic Conference, won the Group of Five New Year’s Six bowl bid to play the Southern Cal Trojans of the Pac-12 Conference, one of the five major leagues.

The Green Wave had one of the best turnarounds of any team in college football and were among the most profitable college football picks. They were 11-2 straight up and against the spread. A season ago they were 2-10 and on the verge of firing Fritz.

Matchup Information

  • Venue: Cotton Bowl; Dallas, Texas
  • Matchup Time: 1 p.m. ET, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023
  • How to watch: ESPN, ESPN+

Where to watch: Anywhere with broadcasting or streaming capabilities

Tulane Green Wave Analysis

Nobody probably expected Tulane to be as successful as they were, but they were as dominant on both sides of the ball as a mid-major team can be. They played in a handful of tight NCAAf games and produced positive results in most instances. Here is a breakdown of their performances.


The Green Wave were 21st nationally in scoring at 35.2 points per game and 34th in total offense at 433.9 yards of offense per game. They were 31st in rushing for 197.1 yards per game and 58th in passing for 236.8 yards per game. However, their 10 giveaways were 111th.

Tyjae Spears was a workhorse running back for the Green Wave. He rushed for 1,373 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry with a team-high 15 touchdowns. Michael Pratt was more physical, with 395 yards on 3.5 yards per carry and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Pratt, the quarterback, adds another element to the offense as a dual-threat quarterback. He threw for 25 touchdowns to five interceptions with a 64.5% completion rate for 2,776 yards.


Tulane was fairly strong defensively and has a good matchup with USC. They were 26th in allowing 20.5 points per game and 32nd in allowing 342.4 yards of offense per game. The Green Wave’s strength was against the pass, allowing 188.5 yards per game to rank 18th. They were 73rd in rushing, allowing 153.8 yards per game. Their 11 takeaways was 57th.

Things to consider when making Tulane vs USC Trojans best bets are the quality of schedule Tulane played, which was pretty good. The Green wave were 2-0 as underdogs, including winning against the spread when an underdog of 6.5 points or less.

USC Trojans Analysis

The Trojans were built on their offense, and their could really be a lot of points in this game because their defense isn’t very good.


The Trojans were third nationally in scoring 41.1 points per game and fifth in total offense while gaining 499.8 yards per game. They were fifth in passing at 325.7 yards per game and 51st in rushing at 174.2 yards per game. Their two giveaways were fifth.

Williams will be the star of the bowl game if he plays. He threw for 4,075 yards with a 66.1% completion rate, 37 touchdowns to four interceptions, and rushed for 372 yards and 10 touchdowns. He lost lead running back Travis Dye to an injury and should have Austin Jones back. Leading receiver Jordan Addison will be out as he prepares for the NFL draft.


As mentioned, the defense was horrid. The Trojans allowed 27.9 points per game, which ranked 81st, and were 101st in allowing 415.1 yards of offense per game. They ranked 112th against the pass (266.5 yards per game) and 62nd against the run (148.6 yards per game). However, their 19 takeaways were second.

The Trojans were 7-5 as favorites this season, including 2-2 as favorites of 6.5 points or less.

NCAAF Stats and Standings 

The Trojans ascended the NCAAf standings and would have played in the playoff if they could have beaten the Utah Utes once. Their two losses, including in the Pac-12 title game, forced them to slide to the Cotton Bowl and may have thrown off a pair of remarkable semifinals that took place on New Year’s Eve. With Williams returning and a slew of transfers, the Trojans are expected to again be the favorites atop the Pac-12.

Meanwhile, Tulane avenged its lone in-season loss which determined who would play in this game. Central Florida visited New Orleans and won, 38-31, during the regular season but it was the Green Wave who won the league title game, 45-28, in dominating fashion on their home turf to clinch the New Year’s Six bowl bid.

Most Remarkable Player for this Matchup

With Addison and Dye out the Trojans’ offense will lose some star power. But here are three players to know before making Tulane vs USC Trojans best bets.

Deuce Watts, WR, Tulane, The physical receiver stands 6 foot 2 and caught 31 passes for 574 yards (18.5 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.

Mario Williams, WR, USC, At 5 foot 9, the speedy Williams caught 28 passes for 519 yards (18.5 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

Caleb Williams, QB, USC, He still has a season to go before turning pro but Williams is a frontrunner to be the NFL’s No. 1 pick in 2024.

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