On Wednesday (12/27/23), USC faces Louisville in this year’s Holiday Bowl. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the game where Louisville is favored by 7 points. In addition, find a full matchup preview and our Louisville vs. USC best bet which is USC +7.
Louisville Vs. USC Prediction
After falling short in the Pac-12 Championship last year, USC was seen as the favorite in the conference entering this season, but they finished with an incredibly disappointing 7-5 record despite having last year’s Heisman-winning quarterback Caleb Williams. There were clear issues for the Trojans this season, and with Williams opting out to prepare for the NFL Draft, they find themselves as hefty 7-point underdogs.
However, I believe this line has gone too far. USC will have had over a month off to prepare for this game, giving them time to recuperate after an incredibly taxing close to the season that included games against five of the other top six teams in the conference and a road game against Notre Dame, all in the span of six weeks. That would test the mettle of any team, especially one with a dreadful defense like the Trojans.
USC finished the year ranked 126th in EPA per play allowed on defense, and the firing of Alex Grinch was a much needed move. D’Anton Lynn arrives after coordinating a top 20 defense at UCLA this past season, and while his role in this game is murky, he’s been involved in practices and will help bring some structure and intensity to a unit that desperately needs it.
Louisville’s offense had a strong year overall, but they’ll be without their top two skill position players in running back Jawhar Jordan and wide receiver Jamari Thrash. The loss of Thrash is especially notable as he was the only wide receiver on the roster to average over 2 yards per route run, and the team will sorely miss his downfield explosiveness, even against a shaky defense in USC.
Meanwhile, USC will be starting quarterback Miller Moss, who has been with the program for three and a half years but has never made a start. I expect Lincoln Riley to have him well prepared for this game, and the team still has plenty of skill position talent to lean on at running back and wide receiver.
I faded USC for basically this entire season, and it was a profitable strategy as they failed to meet expectations and finished the year with a putrid 3-9 ATS record. However, I believe the market has bottomed out on them, and they’re a strong bet as 7-point underdogs. I’ll bet on Riley with a chip on his shoulder getting his team fired up for a quasi home game in San Diego.
Louisville Vs. USC Prediction: USC +7
Louisville Vs. USC Best Odds
With Caleb Williams off to the NFL, USC finds themselves as 7-point underdogs in this game. The line opened at -6.5 for Louisville with every expectation that Williams would not play, so we haven’t seen a ton of movement here. The over/under sits at 58.5 points, which is on the high side for two offenses missing multiple key starters from this season.Find the latest opt-out and injury information for the bowl season with our tracker.
Louisville Vs. USC Key Matchups
While both of these teams have seen notable players walk out the door in the transfer portal or on their way to the NFL, there are some fascinating matchups to take stock of. Let’s break those down here.
Isaac Guerendo Vs. USC’s Run Defense
The loss of Jawhar Jordan is significant, but the presence of senior Isaac Guerendo helps lighten the blow. Guerendo is a physical runner who finished the season with 109 carries for 649 yards and eight touchdowns. He’ll be the focal point for Louisville’s run-first offense this week, and he gets a great matchup against USC.
The USC run defense had a lot of issues this season, ranking 105th in rushing yards allowed per game, and they were outside the top 100 in EPA per rush allowed. The defense is largely intact without much action in the transfer portal on that end, but that won’t mean much if USC defends the run the way they did for the majority of this season.
Make that 5⃣ touchdowns in 3⃣ games for @isaacguerendo 🔥
— Louisville Football (@LouisvilleFB) November 18, 2023
Miller Moss vs. Louisville’s Pass Defense
With Caleb Williams off to the NFL and Malachi Nelson in the transfer portal, Miller Moss is finally getting his first career start. A former four-star recruit, Moss has thrown for 542 yards and three touchdowns in limited action over the last three seasons. He’ll have the help of leading receiver Tahj Washington (52 catches for 963 yards and six touchdowns) and do-it-all freshman phenom Zachariah Branch (381 yards from scrimmage).
Louisville was excellent against the pass this year, ranking fourth in passing EPA/play allowed, but it’s fair to knock them a bit for a weaker level of competition faced in the ACC. Cornerbacks Quincy Riley and Jarvis Brownlee Jr. will be ready to capitalize on any mistakes the inexperienced Moss makes in the game.
1️⃣ DAY UNTIL GAME DAY…
1️⃣ has been a lightning bolt for USC on offense and special teams⚡️⚡️
— Arrogant Nation✌🏻 (@FightOnRusty) December 26, 2023