Cotton Bowl 2023 - Tulane
A key player for the Green Wave is running back Tyjae Spears who will provide a dual purpose for Tulane, moving the ball on offense while keeping USC's offense off of the field with excellent ball control. The junior from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, rushed for a season-high 199 yards and a touchdown against UCF in the AAC championship game. It was his 7th consecutive +100-yard rushing game, the longest active streak in the FBS. Spears is one tough runner to bring tackle which could be a huge issue for the USC defense as we have seen, with the 11th-most missed tackles in the FBS (141). That spells a big challenge for a Trojan defense that has the 12th-most missed tackles in FBS (141).
How Tulane can win this matchup: The Tulane defense has to show up against a healthy Caleb Williams is still a challenge. But this game will most likely have their QB2, Miller Moss at the reins. Not the one that gave up 176 yards and two touchdowns rushing to UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee in a loss on Nov. 12. The one that held Plumlee to minus-7 yards rushing and helped win the AAC championship four weeks later. USC quarterback Caleb Williams can't be allowed to run free and given his injury we are not anticipating his return so this could be an advantage to Tulane but don't sleep on Miller Moss who albeit has not had a lot of snaps has been hyper-productive when called on. And the Green Wave can't allow Miller Moss to sit back and pick apart the secondary, either. While Tulane's 24 sacks won't blow anyone away, the Wave has been good at reaching the quarterback, contacting the QB 219 times this season, which ranks seventh in the FBS and yet another solid challenge for the now beat-up USC offensive line.
The Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt and the passing game must do their part as well. And the receiver who should be the focal point may be Shae Wyatt. While Tulane's QB likes to spread the ball around -- four players have at least 30 catches and three have five or more receiving touchdowns -- Wyatt has been heating up of late. The 6-foot-1 senior from Omaha, Nebraska, has 329 yards and six touchdowns in his last five games. So this game for the USC defense has a lot to watch out for and prepare to stop.
2022 has been a complete patchwork on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Grinch arrived with a roster that clearly was sub-optimal in depth. A few strong stars and players of the year so not all doomsday as most feel is the reality. I actually believe he over-achieved with what he had but that's another debate for later. Grinch can make a statement if he can stop the run with Tulan. Fix whatever happened to tackling skills this late in the season and go back to the first half of the ND game. That was a defense you can smile about.
The wild card is Caleb Williams. Everyone knows it. No one really knows the depth of his leg injury but Coach Riley would be wise to put him on ice after watching him essentially become a human punching bag vs Utah. The time is to appoint, Miller Moss who is fully capable. Moss can run this offense. He has had some cameo shots through the season but not enough to really see his true potential to which I believe he is going to positively surprise. Give Miller the nod now and the team can start building emotionally to support him as QB1.
Fight On and Beat Tulane!