After quite the tumultuous season, USC has been selected to face off against Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) in the Holiday Bowl. The game takes place on December 27, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
This will be the first time the Cornhuskers and Trojans have ever faced each other in a bowl game. USC is a near perfect 3-0-1 over four regular season meetings between the two storied programs.
The Trojans’ 2014:
It’s been an extremely frustrating year for SC fans, in which a talented team ended the regular season with 4 losses. In hindsight, the only unacceptable loss was to Boston College, but the Eagles showed up against the Trojans on the East Coast.
Losses to ranked Arizona State, Utah, and UCLA were really what did the Trojans in, especially with the first two of those games being USC’s to lose. At the beginning of the year, I predicted this team would go 9-3, with losses to Stanford, UCLA and Notre Dame. After a huge week to win at Stanford, the Trojans looked capable of winning the Pac-12 south.
The unfortunate reality is that USC couldn’t close out games. the Arizona State loss was the real stab in the heart, with the win coming on a hail mary TD pass. I can’t help but wonder about how different the season would have been if that game and the Utah game had been Trojan wins. We’d be looking at a 10-2 Trojan team that would definitely sit in the top 10. I think this season represents a missed oppurtunity-the amount of talent on this team is enough to make the playoff.
Past 4 games:
USC has gone 3-1 over it’s past 4 games, with the only loss coming to UCLA. Wins over unranked Cal and Washington State preceded the loss, and last weeks blowout of the Irish came the week after.
The Cornhuskers’ 2014:
Nebraska’s season has gone a bit differently. After an 8-1 start (with the sole loss coming at #10 Michigan State), the Cornhuskers lost back to back games to ranked Wisconsin and Minnesota. An overtime win against Iowa ended their regular season at 9-3. Due to the late decline and comparably easy schedule, the Cornhuskers ended the season ranked #25 by AP but without a spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Nebraska didn’t manage any wins against Top 25 teams, and only 3 of their victories came against teams with winning records. None of the teams the Cornhuskers beat ended the season with more than 7 wins. Probably their most impressive win of the year came in overtime at then 7-4 Iowa (which kind of goes to show how much they lack a quality win).
The Huskers are, though, ranked 14th in points for per game and 17th in rushing yards per game, coming on the legs of Ameer Abdullah, whose 1523 rushing yards are 11th most in the FBS this year.
Past 4 games:
A home win over lowly Purdue was followed by a thrashing at #20 Wisconsin (aka the Melvin Gordon superman game) and a close home loss to #25 Minnesota. An overtime win at Iowa last weekend capped off the regular season for the Huskers.
In my opinion, this game will go to the Trojans without much work. Nebraska has no quality wins, and doesn’t have the passing attack necessary to get the jump on USC. The Trojans have held opponents to 3.9 yards per rush this season and have given up the 27th least yards per game in the FBS. The fact that the game will be played in San Diego, less than a two hour drive from USC’s campus, will give the Trojans a sizable fan base. I think the combo of a home-like atmosphere and USC’s power offense should be enough to give Troy the win.
My Prediction: USC 38, Nebraska 24