The 2014 bowl season continues into its second weekend with a Saturday night (8:00 pm ET) game featuring the 22nd ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) of the Big 10 Conference and the USC Trojans (8-4) of the PAC-12 Conference in the Holiday Bowl from Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA. The Cornhuskers won their season finale over Iowa 37-34 on the road, but lost their two previous games to Wisconsin (59-24) on the road and Minnesota (28-24) at home resulting in the dismissal of Head Coach Bo Pelini. Barney Cotton will be head coach for this game, and Pelini’s staff will run their respective sides of the ball as defensive coordinator John Papuchis will call the defensive, and offensive coordinator Tim Beck will call the plays on that side of the ball. USC won their season finale in dominant fashion over Notre Dame 49-14, and won 3 of their last 4 to close out the season with their only loss coming to cross-town rival UCLA (38-20) in their next to last game of the regular season.
Nebraska is ranked 13th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 37.4 points per game and 33rd among FBS teams in total offense with 446.3 yards per contest. The Cornhuskers rank 46th nationally in points allowed with 24.8 per game and 48th in total defense 372.8 YPG allowed..
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USC is ranked 24th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 35.1 PPG scored and 29th among FBS teams in total offense with 452.8 YPG. The Trojans rank 36th nationally in points allowed with 23.8 per game and 66th in total defense 398.2 YPG allowed.
Nebraska vs. USC Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Nebraska Cornhuskers +7
@ USC Trojans -7
Over 61.5 (-110)
Under 61.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Nebraska vs USC Pick
The Cornhuskers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games against PAC-12 teams and 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The Trojans are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 bowl games, 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games against Big-10 teams and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games. The Under is 6-1 in the Cornhuskers’ last 7 bowl games, 20-7 in their last 27 games on grass and 5-1 in their last 6 games in December. The Under is 4-1 in Trojans last 5 games against Big-10 teams, 7-0-1 in their last 8 games in December and 4-1 in their last 5 games overall. This is the 5th ever meeting between the two teams with USC holding a 3-0-1 edge. The most-recent matchup was in 2007, when the #1 ranked Trojans recorded a 49-31 victory at Nebraska.
The Cornhuskers have a lot to deal with off the field with the firing of Pelini and the impending tenure of new head man Mike Riley. Running back Ameer Abdullah (1,523 yards rushing , 18 TDs), who topped 200 rushing yards 4 times this season, is the top threat for the Huskers. Defensively they are led by linebacker Zaire Anderson (95 tackles), defensive end Randy Gregory (7 sacks) a top NFL prospect and safety Nate Gerry (5 INTs).
USC QB Cody Kessler has had an outstanding season thus far, passing for 3,505 yards and 36 TDs with 4 INTs ; running back Javorius Allen has run for 1,337 yards with 800 100 yard performances. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has 97 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 TDs.
The two teams have vastly different styles of play, with Nebraska reliant on the running game and Abdullah and USC playing a fast-paced style with new Head Coach Steve Sarkisian. The Huskers have not fared well in their meetings with PAC-12 teams, who tend to play much faster than the teams Nebraska faces in the Big-10. Nebraska is also dealing with a coaching transition and injuries to many key players including Abdullah. The play here is to take the stronger conference and the Trojans who are looking to finish strong in their first year under Sarkisian, take USC here.