Betting preview for Goodyear Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Tulane


Previewing the Goodyear Cotton Bowl: USC vs. Tulane

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This is the preview for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl:


USC (-2, 63) vs. Tulane 

Date: Monday, January 2, 1:00 p.m. ET

AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX)

Betting splits: 72% of handle, 82% of bets on USC -2

Sportsbooks have the UCLA Bruins as 6-point favorites over the Pittsburgh Panthers in Friday’s Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Yet, they have USC as only 2-point favorites over Tulane in the Cotton Bowl, thanks to the uncertainty about the playing status of USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Caleb Williams. With the NFL taking over the “New Year’s Day” football schedule, the Cotton Bowl is actually being played on Monday, Jan. 2, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

We’re assuming this line would be higher if both teams were 100 percent (and Tulane is as close as any team in the major bowls). But even if Williams’ hamstring injury doesn’t prevent him from playing, the Trojans are also without WR Jordan Addison (ankle injury), offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees and Brett Neilon (opt-outs for NFL draft), plus LB Ralen Goforth (transfer portal).

The other concern for USC is the motivation factor. The Trojans were on the cusp of a CFB Playoff berth in coach Lincoln Riley’s first year before the Pac-12 Championship Game loss to Utah, so the Cotton Bowl is an obvious letdown. Meanwhile, the Cotton Bowl was the reasonable best-case scenario for Tulane as a Group of 5 program.

Williams threw for 4,075 yards and 37 TDs while adding another 372 rushing yards and 10 more TDs in leading the Trojans to the No. 3 scoring offense at 41.1 points per game. Tulane had the No. 23 scoring defense, allowing just 20.5 points per game, and the No. 18 pass defense at just 188.5 yards per game. So it would be great to see that matchup, especially with a Green Wave pass rush that sacked UCF in the AAC title game against a depleted Trojan offensive line.

Tulane was also 11-2 ATS this season–a result of exceeding preseason expectations–and coach Willie Fritz is 12-8 ATS (60%) in bowl games.

Early bettors still think the Trojans are the right side as 82% of the bets and 72% of the money was on USC -2 at DraftKings as of Friday morning. However, as South Point sports book director recently wrote on, with the exception of the CFB Playoff games, the vast majority of bets on these other bowl games do not come in until gameday. For current figures, see the VSiN Betting Splits Page.

The Over/Under has been right around 63 points and will likely move several points if any definitive news is announced on Williams’ status. As of noon Friday, 63% of the bets and 76% of the money was on the Over. 

Related links

Matchup page for Goodyear Cotton Bowl

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