Tulane vs USC prediction: Cotton Bowl odds, choose

What a season it has been for the Tulane Green Wave. In August, Willie Fritz’s team was a 50/1 longshot to win the AAC and had a 6-win Over/Under season. Four months later, the Green Wave is the No. 14 team in college football and is set to face No. 8 USC in the Cotton Bowl.

And in all likelihood, Tulane isn’t here to make up the numbers. The green wave is just a 1.5 point underdog on Monday, meaning the betting market is viewing this contest as a virtual coin toss.

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USC vs. Tulane Prediction (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): Tulane -6.5 (+230, FanDuel)

It’s also been a terrific season for USC, which only saw its college football playoff aspirations dashed by a loss to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but it could be a tough place to be. Trojan horses. Not only will they be disappointed not to be among the four national championship contenders, but they will also have to make do without several key players.

Michael Pratt
Michael Pratt
Getty Images

Quarterback Caleb Williams said he plans to play Monday despite a hamstring injury, but the Trojans won’t have star receiver Jordan Addison, as well as offensive linemen Brett Neilon. and Andrew Voorhees. These are key elements that the Trojans lack, who rely heavily on Williams’ ability to extend the game with his legs. With an injured hamstring, a depleted offensive line and one of his most important weapons on the sidelines, it becomes much more difficult.

And that’s before you even get to the Tulane defense, which has been superb this season. The Green Wave ranked in the top 25 in yards per play and was the 11th-best team in the nation in limiting explosive plays through the air this season. Tulane’s run defense ranked 68th in completion rate, but was also 31st in preventing explosive runs.

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Even if Williams is able to move the ball, Tulane’s offense should be able to stay with the Trojans. Quarterback Michael Pratt is a savvy signalman and he has a star by his side in Tyjae Spears, who has 1,376 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Overall, Tulane ranked 22nd in expected points added per game and 23rd in finishing drives in 2022, so the green wave will pit well against a defense that finished the season outside the top. 120 in these two categories.

In their current form, there’s very little between these two teams and there’s a chance that 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Williams won’t play the whole game. If so, it’s worth attempting another spread and supporting Tulane in a rout.

USC pick vs. Tulane (1 p.m. ET, ESPN): Tulane -6.5 (+230, FanDuel)


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