Tulane seeks 10-win improvement vs. USC in Cotton Bowl

Cotton Bowl: No. 14 Tulane (11-2, No. 16 CFP) vs. No. 8 Southern California (11-2, No. 10 CFP), Monday, 1 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK COLLEGE LINE: USC by 1 1/2.

Series record: USC leads 2-1.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

USC, with first-year coach Lincoln Riley, goes for its first 12-win season since 2008. The Trojans have only lost to one team — twice to Utah, in mid-October and then again in the Pac-12 championship game. American Athletic Conference champion Tulane already has tied an FBS record for biggest turnaround, from a 2-10 record last season. The only time the Green Wave won 12 games was during a perfect 12-0 season in 1998.

KEY MATCHUP

QB Michael Pratt and Tulane passing game vs. USC secondary. Over the Trojans’ last seven games, only one-win Colorado didn’t throw for at least 300 yards and multiple touchdowns against them. But they are third nationally with 19 interceptions this season. Pratt has thrown for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns with five interceptions, and has been picked off only twice the past eight games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tulane: Running back Tyjae Spears has an FBS-best streak of seven consecutive 100-yard rushing games. He has run for 1,376 yards and 15 touchdowns, including 199 yards with a 60-yard TD in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

USC: Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams said he was ready to go exactly one month after a significant hamstring injury in the Pac-12 title game. He has thrown for 4,075 yards and 37 touchdowns with four interceptions, and run for 372 yards and 10 more scores.

FACTS & FIGURES

Tulane had the the longest losing record against Top 25 teams — 61 in a row since 1984 — before wins over then-ranked Cincinnati and UCF in its last two games. … The two teams most recently played each other during the 1946 season. … The Trojans are 0-2 in games at AT&T Stadium. They lost 52-6 to Alabama in the 2016 season opener at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and 24-7 to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl at the end of the 2017 season. … Tulane has 5,640 total yards this season, 202 shy of the single-season school record set in 2019.

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