Game to be played at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
1. USC is playing in the Holiday Bowl for the first time while No. 22 Nebraska will have an interim coach when the teams face off on Dec. 27 in San Diego. Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian is looking to avoid a five-loss campaign in his first season as coach. The Cornhuskers fired Bo Pelini and have hired Mike Riley away from Oregon State but Barney Cotton will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game.
2. Cotton has been on the Nebraska coaching staff for eight years and also was an offensive lineman at the school. He has made it his quest to get the players ready to give a supreme effort despite all the uncertainty surrounding the program. “We know that we’ve got one last chance together,” Cotton told reporters. “That’s our future here, and then I hope and pray that everybody gets an opportunity to do what they want to do next year.”
3. Both schools are known for being high-profile football factories and powers in the sport. But this contest will mark only the fifth meeting with USC holding a 3-0-1 edge. The most-recent matchup was in 2007, when the top-ranked Trojans posted a 49-31 victory at Nebraska.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: The line opened at USC -5.5 before quickly jumping to -6.5. It sat there for several days before settling at -7. The opening total (61) has seen a modest 1-point jump (62).
INJURY REPORT: Nebraska – DE Randy Gregory (Ques-Undisclosed), WR Alonzo Moore (Ques-Undisclosed) USC – LB Lamar Dawson (Ques-Knee),
WEATHER FORECAST: Clear skies and minimal winds are expected, with temperatures in the mid-50°F.
ABOUT NEBRASKA (9-3 SU, 7-4-1 ATS, 7-5 O/U): The Cornhuskers average 37.4 points per game with running back Ameer Abdullah (1,523 yards, 18 touchdowns), who topped 200 rushing yards four times this season, the star attraction. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. passed for 2,314 yards and 19 scores and rushed for 664 yards and five touchdowns, while receiver Kenny Bell had 717 yards and five touchdowns on 40 receptions. Defensively, Nebraska allows an average of 24.8 points and receives strong contributions from weak-side linebacker Zaire Anderson (team-best 95 tackles), defensive end Randy Gregory (team-leading seven sacks) and safety Nate Gerry (five interceptions).
ABOUT USC (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS, 5-7 O/U): The Trojans average 35.1 points as standout quarterback Cody Kessler is in the midst of an outstanding season, passing for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdowns against four interceptions. Running back Javorius “Buck” Allen has 1,337 yards – topping 100 yards eight times – and big-play receiver Nelson Agholor has 97 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 touchdowns. USC gives up 23.8 points per game and the star defenders include defensive end Leonard Williams (six sacks), inside linebacker Hayes Pullard (team-leading 87 tackles) and outside linebacker Su’a Cravens (team-best 16 tackles for losses).
*Cornhuskers are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
*Trojans are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 vs. Big Ten.
*Under is 6-1 in Cornhuskers last 7 Bowl games.
*Under is 7-0-1 in Trojans last 8 games in December.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 67.66 percent of Covers users are backing USC -7, with 64 percent on the over.