Monday, December 4, 2023

USC and Louisville to clash at the DIRECTV Holiday Bowl

The KGB Skyshow is not the only fireworks expected when the USC Trojans (7-5) and the No. 16 ranked Louisville Cardinals (10-3) meet at Petco Park on December 27th.

The Trojans will be without star quarterback Caleb Williams, who passed for over 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns but opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. Making his first career start in Williams' place is sophomore Miller Moss. In limited backup duty this season, Moss flashed potential by passing for 542 yards and three touchdowns.

Moss will have no shortage of offensive weapons at his disposal. Electric receiver Tahj Washington looks to break loose after compiling 963 receiving yards and six touchdowns this year. Running back MarShawn Lloyd also poses a threat having rushed for 820 yards and nine scores. But this gifted Trojan attack will have its hands full against a suffocating Louisville defense.

The Cardinals give up just 16.4 points on average behind the havoc-wreaking pass rush of defensive end Ashton Gillotte (11 sacks) and the fearsome tackling of linebacker TJ Quinn (87 tackles). The two stars headline a punishing unit that could shake the inexperienced Moss.

Yet Louisville has plenty of scoring power too behind the arm of quarterback Jack Plummer. Hitting top targets Jamari Thrash (858 receiving yards, 6 TDs) and Jawhar Jordan (1,128 rushing yards, 13 TDs), Plummer helped guide an offense averaging over 30 points per contest. 

The Cardinals will make their first-ever Holiday Bowl appearance while the Trojans are back for the fourth time. USC is 1-2 all-time in San Diego's marquee bowl game, with their lone triumph coming in a 45-42 thriller over Nebraska in 2014. 

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