USC vs. Louisville prediction: Don’t expect much from Trojans at Holiday Bowl
When the 2023 college football season began, USC had its sights set on playing in a southern California bowl game.
However, the Trojans had hoped to be playing in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as part of the College Football Playoff, not in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
To say USCs season didnt go according to plan would be a massive understatement.
After starting 6-0, the Trojans crumbled down the stretch and now sit at 7-5.
Meanwhile, Louisville is coming off a disappointing loss in the ACC Championship, but is 10-3 and seeking the programs first 11-win season since 2012.
Id like this game much better at Louisville -6.5, where it opened, but between the huge gap in motivation and some key opt-outs for USC, Im still on the Cardinals as a touchdown favorite.
Speaking of opt-outs, there are none bigger for any bowl game than Caleb Williams.
Last seasons Heisman Trophy winner threw for 3,633 yards for USC and was responsible for 44 total touchdowns.
Despite all of the Trojans flaws, the offense was one of the more explosive units in the country, averaging 468 yards and 41 points per game.
Miller Moss (right) will get the nod for USC. Getty ImagesOf course, that was with Williams.
Sophomore Miller Moss, a four-star 2021 recruit who will get the start against Louisville, played in four games this season and threw for a total of 309 yards and one touchdown.
Not only is Moss nowhere near as dynamic as Williams, but hell also be without some of USCs top weapons, including running back MarShawn Lloyd, who averaged 7.1 yards per carry and finished the season with 820 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Moss, minus receivers Michael Jackson, Raleek Brown, Mario Williams and Brenden Rice, will go up against a Louisville defense that limited opponents to just 19.7 points and 307.3 yards per game.
Louisvilles defense should have some success against a decimated USC offense, and its offense should put up points against a USC defense that struggled at pretty much everything all season.
Yes, the Trojans have a new defensive coordinator after hiring DAnton Lynn away from UCLA, but dont expect massive improvement in the Holiday Bowl.
Next year? Sure.
Wednesday night? No.
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Louisvilles offense struggled in the ACC Championship, putting up just 188 yards and six points, but that was against a talented Florida State defense.
It was obviously a disappointing performance and one the Cardinals will be motivated to move past.
Lucky for them, they get to face a USC defense that gave up an average of 34.9 points and 438.8 yards per game.
The Cardinals led by quarterback Jack Plummer, who threw for 3,063 yards and 21 touchdowns this season average 30.9 ppg.
Jack Plummer #13 of the Louisville Cardinals makes a hand off to Isaac Guerendo #23 of the Louisville Cardinals. Getty ImagesExpect their Holiday performance to be much closer to that than the game against Florida State.
Lead back Jawhar Jordan has opted out, but Isaac Guerendo, who averaged 6 yards per carry over 109 rushes this season and finished with 649 yards and eight touchdowns, will play, giving Louisville some stability and familiarity in the backfield.
Williams absence drastically changes the handicap of this game and Im much more comfortable backing the team fighting for its 11th win than the team that quit on the season months ago.
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