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Tulane vs USC Prediction, Odds and College Football Betting Picks for Cotton Bowl

Monday’s jam-packed New Year’s slate of bowl games includes a matchup between the Tulane Green Wave and the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl Classic. It has been decades since the Green Wave played in a bowl game of this magnitude. The top Group of 5 team in the country will look to cap off its resurgent season with a statement victory over a Trojans outfit that narrowly missed out on playing in the College Football Playoff. The Tulane vs USC odds and college football betting picks view the Pac-12 representative pegged as a slight favorite for this game.

The following game preview provides the college football betting odds, trends and FEI Index ratings before sharing our official Tulane vs USC prediction for the Cotton Bowl matchup.

Tulane vs USC Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

Cotton Bowl Classic
Tulane Green Wave (11-2, 7-1 AAC) vs. USC Trojans (11-2, 8-1 Pac-12)
Date: Monday, January 2, 2023
Time: 1 p.m. EST
Venue: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, TX
Coverage: ESPN

After winning all of two games last season, Tulane will look to put the finishing touches on what has been a banner year for the program. A road win over Cincinnati earned the Green Wave the right to host the AAC Championship Game. Tulane was successfully able to avenge one of their two losses when they beat UCF for the conference title and earned a New Year’s Six Bowl invite in the process by finishing as the top Group of 5 team in the final CFP Rankings. As far as the Green Wave’s ability to match up against Power 5 competition, it should be noted that they beat Kansas State earlier in the season.

For USC, it’s hard to view the Cotton Bowl as much more than a consolation prize. After finishing atop the Pac-12 Conference standings, the Trojans found themselves in a position to qualify for the College Football Playoff in Lincoln Riley’s first year at the helm. Instead, USC lost to Utah for the second time this season in the conference title game and wound up eighth in the final CFP Rankings. The Trojans’ offense was one of the best in the country this season but will have to overcome a handful of injury absences in the bowl game.

Caleb Williams Tulane vs USC prediction college football betting picks odds Cotton Bowl game predictions
Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Tulane vs USC College Football Betting Picks and Odds

All college football betting odds for Tulane vs USC can be found at BetOnline Sportsbook.

Moneyline: TUL: (+116) | USC: (-136)
Point Spread: TUL: +2 (-108) | USC: -2 (-112)
Total: 63.5 — Over: (-110) | Under: (-110)

College Football FEI Ratings

The following table shares the Fremeau Efficiency Index rankings for both teams involved in this Cotton Bowl matchup. The purpose of the FEI ratings is to represent the per-possession scoring advantage that a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent. The rankings for offense and defense are out of 131 total FBS-level teams.

Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) ratings are froFootball Outsiders

TeamOverall FEI (Rk)OFEI (Rk)DFEI (Rk)
Tulane.52 (22).59 (33).63 (22)
USC.69 (14)1.84 (2)-.44 (95)
  • Green Wave are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games against teams with a winning record.
  • The total has gone OVER in each of the Green Wave’s last four games overall.
  • Spanning the last two years, the Green Wave are 7-1 ATS against opponents coming off a straight up loss.
  • Trojans are 0-5 ATS in their last five bowl games.
  • Each of the Trojans’ last seven games has gone OVER the total.
  • Trojans are 1-5 ATS in their last six games following a straight up loss.
  • Betting favorites have gone 7-0 both straight up and ATS in the last seven editions of the Cotton Bowl.

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Tulane vs USC Prediction | College Football Betting Picks

One of the toughest components of handicapping this year’s Cotton Bowl Classic has been the uncertain status of USC quarterback, Caleb Williams. The 2022 Heisman Trophy Winner suffered a severe hamstring injury in the Pac-12 title game. Initially, many assumed he would miss the bowl game, but Williams has since indicated that he is on track to start against Tulane.

So long as the Trojans have their star QB in tow, there is little to suggest that they won’t score their fair share of points. Lincoln’s Riley’s offense finished the year ranked fourth in the country in scoring offense (41.4 points per game) and second in adjusted efficiency. Even without top receiver Jordan Addison and a couple of injured starters along the offensive line, USC should be able to put up points in this contest.

Tulane’s defense was able to dictate terms against lesser American Athletic Conference opponents earlier in the year. However, in late-season matchups against teams with high-powered offenses like Memphis, SMU and UCF, the Green Wave largely found themselves willingly engaging in and winning several high-scoring affairs. 

While USC’s offense is extremely potent, the same cannot be said of a defense that gave up 27.9 points per game and ranked 112th out of 131 FBS teams in yards allowed per play (6.0). Pretty much the only thing that has saved the unit is its propensity to generate takeaways. A turnover margin of +22 on the season leads the nation and is also six better than any other team.

With QB Michael Pratt and star running back Tyjae Spears leading the way, Tulane’s offense packs quite a punch of its own. The Green Wave also have plenty and size experience along the O-line and should be able to match up well in the trenches. Add it all up and one has to believe that defensive stops will be hard to come by for both sides in this matchup.

OVER THE TOTAL will be our official college football betting Tulane vs USC prediction for the Cotton Bowl.

For what it’s worth, the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives USC a 58.4% chance to win this game outright.

Bet: OVER 63.5 (-110 at BetOnline Sportsbook)

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