USC beat Tulane to win the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. What happened, who was the player of the game, and what does it all mean?
Tulane 46, USC 45 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic What Happened, Player of the Game, What It All Means
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic What Happened
– Well that was fun. USC was up 45-30 on a 43-yard Denis Lynch field goal with 4:30 to play. Tulane needed just two plays to score a touchdown, USC messed up on the kickoff and was pinned deep, RB Austin Jones was tackled for a safety, and then things really got crazy.
Down six, Tulane went 66 yards in 12 plays with a six-yard touchdown grab – which was originally ruled incomplete but was reversed – with seven seconds to play for the win.
– Caleb Williams did everything he could. He threw a pick, but he bombed away for 460 yards and five touchdowns with the offense going up by 14 twice and 15 late in the game before the Trojan defense collapsed again.
– Tulane kept fighting back even after USC kept pushing ahead. Tyjae Spears came up with four scores – the USC defensive front kept getting ripped up as the game went on – but Williams and the offense almost always took over when needed … at least until the final 4:30.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Player of the Game
Tyjae Spears, RB Tulane
He ran 17 times for 205 yards and four touchdowns and caught a pass for 14 yards.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic Fun Stats
– Caleb Williams completed 37-of-52 passes for 462 yards and five scores with a pick, and he ran four times for ten yards. Brenden Rice and Tahj Washington combined for 283 yards on 11 catches – Rice caught two touchdown passes.
– Tulane QB Michael Pratt completed 8-of-17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 15 times for 83 yards.
– USC held the ball for 39:49, Tulane had it for 20:11. USC outgained Tulane 594 to 539.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic What It All Means
The Tulane offense kept on pressing, and with the win, the Group of Five got a huge win. That’s going to be harder and harder to do going forward – in the expanded CFP era the Power Five programs will have most of the parts there, and the field of Gof5 teams won’t be great to choose from – but for now, this was massive for the a Tulane program that went from two wins last year to 12 this season.
The 1998 Green Wave team went 12-0, but it didn’t face anyone like this USC team. The program hadn’t won more than seven games since then, but it was good in bowls under Willie Fritz. It was Tulane’s fourth appearance in five years going 3-1.
Not to make excuses or dismiss this brutal loss, but … whatever. This game would’ve been a nice moment for a USC program that hadn’t won a bowl game since the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2016 season, and it would’ve helped ease a little bit of the pain over losing the Pac-12 Championship.
However, USC has much bigger fish to fry going forward than this. All this did was highlight further that the defensive front needs a makeover. That, and if there was any concerns about motivation going forward, this will certainly help.