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Cotton Bowl Pits USC Against Tulane

Sports

Cotton Bowl Logo | Image by ATT Stadium

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl has announced that this year’s game will feature the No.10-ranked University of Southern California Trojans (11-2) from the PAC-12 Conference and the No.16-ranked Tulane Green Wave (11-2) from the American Athletic Conference.

The 87th annual Cotton Bowl will take place on Monday, January 2, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The Trojans finished the season as PAC-12 runner-up after losing to Utah 47-24 in last weekend’s conference championship game, while the Green Wave won its first-ever AAC title with a 45-28 victory over Central Florida — avenging a previous loss to the Knights in November.

USC will be making its third overall appearance in the Cotton Bowl and its first since a 24-7 loss against Ohio State in 2017. The Trojans are among the top five programs in bowl games in NCAA history, winning 34 of their 54 previous matchups.

USC has one of the most prolific offenses in the country behind former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, Heisman-hopeful quarterback Caleb Williams, and several other transfers at the skill positions.

The Trojans score 41.1 points per game and average nearly 500 yards of total offense but have struggled defensively — allowing opponents to gain 415.1 yards and score 27.9 points per game.

Tulane is making its 16th bowl appearance and fourth under AAC Coach of the Year Willie Fritz, who was rumored as a candidate for other jobs but recently signed a contract extension to remain in New Orleans through 2027.

This will be Tulane’s first Cotton Bowl and first New Year’s Six bowl game since the current postseason format was introduced in 2014.

The Green Wave has turned things around quickly, with an 11-2 record up to this point after going 2-10 in 2021. Not only did the team win its first conference championship since 1998 (Conference USA), but the season also included wins over Big 12 Champion and No.9-ranked Kansas State and defending AAC Champion Cincinnati.

Tulane runs a balanced attack behind sophomore second-team All-AAC quarterback Michael Pratt and junior first-team All-AAC running back Tyjae Spears. Spears ranks 13th in rushing yards nationally and has scored 15 touchdowns this season, while Pratt has accounted for 35 scores with just five interceptions thrown as part of an offense that scores 35.2 points per game.

Defensively, Tulane has held opponents to just over 20 points per game and ranks 32nd in the country in yards allowed.

USC and Tulane have met three previous times, and the Trojans have a 2-1 advantage. However, the last meeting between the two was in 1946 when USC won 20-13.

The game is expected to draw great crowds on both sides.

In the official press release, Cotton Bowl President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Baker said, “Tulane and USC deserve to be honored for an incredible season, and we will certainly put on a great show. We want all of New Orleans and southern California to come to North Texas to support these remarkable teams.”

The Cotton Bowl ticket office has sold out, but fans can still find tickets through each university’s athletic department or third-party ticket marketplaces. The game can be seen on ESPN at noon CT on January 2.

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