This article is part of our College Football Picks series.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Picks: USC vs. Tulane Odds, Best Bets, and Predictions
Heading into every college football season, I anticipate the battle to be the top-ranked team from the Group of Five, a team that has been given a spot in a New Year's bowl. My hope is always that it will be somebody fresh, with all due respect to Cincinnati or Boise State or teams of that ilk. This year, my hopes were met in a big way, as Tulane earned the spot in the Cotton Bowl. It, in turn, gets a massive challenge in an intriguing USC Trojans team.
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USC vs. Tulane Odds for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Spread: USC -1.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Total: 63.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Moneyline: USC -126, Tulane +105
As the adage goes, bookmakers set their lines based on a desire to get an even amount of bets on both sides, and the odds will move based on the bets that are coming in. I figured I'd be seeing the Trojans, a popular name brand of a program, get a decent number of points. This 1.5 spread definitely sticks out to me.
USC vs. Tulane Betting Picks This Week
Both of these teams finished with an 11-2 record. The Trojans, though, ended the year getting smashed by Utah in the Pac-12 title game, while the Green Wave was in turn smashing UCF to win the AAC. Of course, in terms of degree of difficulty, the Trojans faced a trickier schedule, and they certainly have more talent. Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for LA, and in the process used the transfer portal to revamp his roster more than any coach had ever managed to do.
While USC's defense only rose from bad to mediocre, it had the second-ranked offense in SP+, led by Heisman winner Caleb Williams. Williams says he plans to play in this game, and even without Jordan Addison, he has plenty of talent to throw to. Tulane is more of a solid-across-the-board squad, not sticking out in any area. It ranks 23rd overall, while USC ranks 13th. I wonder if the theory is that USC, having lost out on the playoffs due to being trounced by Utah, won't be up for this one. Tulane, meanwhile, has never had a bigger game in program history. However, one of these teams has the Heisman winner and way more talent. If the line were bigger, I might consider taking points with Tulane. Here, though, it's all about the Trojans.
USC vs. Tulane Best Bet: USC -1.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Cotton Bowl Prediction
The Green Wave should get some points, because USC's defense is not good. Also, yes, maybe the Trojans will be checked out. Group of Five teams have pulled off upsets in these bowl matchups in the past, but usually they are a little better than this Tulane squad. Assuming Williams is healthy, I think he is the difference maker. I don't expect a blowout, but USC should win, perhaps comfortably.