The premier matchup of the college bowl season’s December 27 slate features the No. 15 ranked Louisville Cardinals (10-3) against the USC Trojans (7-5) in the 2023 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, California Wednesday.
Louisville completed a faster-than-anticipated rebuild under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm. The Cardinals were 10-1, but back-to-back losses to Kentucky and Florida State in the ACC Championship game spoiled their chances at a New Year’s Day bowl game.
USC started the season with aspirations of a New Year’s Day bowl game, too. The Trojans porous defense ruined that as USC lost five of their last six games to waste QB Caleb Williams’ final collegiate season.
With more than 30 players combined sitting out of this bowl game, what can bettors expect when Louisville takes on USC in the Holiday Bowl? We’ll reveal our top three player prop bets as well as our best bet for the Cardinals versus the Trojans Wednesday, December 27.
Senior signal caller Jack Plummer posted his second strong season, this time with the Louisville Cardinals. In 2023, Plummer completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 3,063 yards and 21 TDs against 12 INTs. The Gilbert, Arizona, native was second in the ACC this season in passing yards behind only NFL bound Drake Maye from UNC.
The concern with Plummer covering 242.5 passing yards in a player prop bet is his offensive weapons, not the USC defense. Plummer will be without RB Jawhar Jordan and WR Jamari Thrash, a duo that caught 84 passes this season for a combined 1,104 yards. Both Jordan and Thrash declared for the NFL draft, accounting for their absences in this contest.
Even without those players, expect Plummer to successfully cover this player prop bet. Louisville coach Jeff Brohm is an expert at picking apart a defense’s weakness, and USC’s secondary has been an issue all year long. Bettors can expect Plummer to throw for over 300 yards in this post season game Wednesday.
USC’s offense will look significantly different as multiple starters – including Williams and WR Brendan Rice – sitting out the Holiday Bowl. One familiar face most Trojans’ fans will see is senior WR Tahj Washington. The Marshall, Texas, native was the team’s leader in receptions (52) and receiving yards (963) this year.
While Rice led the Trojans in receiving TDs with 12 total, Washington hauled in six in his final season. Five of those six TDs came in the final five games, however, showing that USC relied on the 5’10” athlete to score down the stretch.
Regardless of who helms the Trojans’ offense Wednesday, expect their top target to be Washington and include at least one scoring catch.
Without Jordan, Louisville will immediately turn to senior RB Isaac Guerendo to take over the rushing game against USC. Guerendo – who transferred after a four-year career at Wisconsin – played in all 13 games this season. Despite a dud against Florida State, Guerendo had 649 rushing yards and eight rushing TDs while he also caught 17 passes for 192 receiving yards.
The Trojans are among the nation’s worst rushing defenses, yielding over 183 yards per game on the ground. In their last four games, USC has allowed at least one rusher to eclipse the 100-yard mark in every game, including a 256-yard performance by Washington RB Dillon Johnson.
Expect Guerendo to become the fifth back in a row to exceed 100 yards and cover this player prop bet.
On paper, USC would have been the most-talented team entering this contest. But with more than two dozen individuals sitting out this game due to transferring or declaring for the NFL draft, the Trojans will be a shell of their regular-season version.
Expect Louisville to score early and often in this blowout. While USC should be able to score against the Cardinals, bettors should not anticipate this game being within three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Let's lay the points with the Cards!
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