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Nebraska vs. USC (Holiday Bowl Preview)

by Jeff Allen of Jeff Allen Sports

Saturday, December 27, 2014 (8:00 PM EST)

Vegas Line at this writing: USC -7 (61.5)

Nebraska: Motivation is a key element of handicapping Bowl games and these two teams come into the Holiday Bowl in two completely frames of mind, Seven straight 9+ win seasons (67 wins) couldn’t save Bo Pelini’s job and the current Youngstown State Penguin head coach had some choice words about the Nebraska administration in his exit meeting with the players. Mike Riley was hired away from Oregon State to calm the waters but offensive line coach Barney Cotton will do the honors here. This Nebraska’s fourth trip to the Holiday Bowl (1-2 SU and ATS) since 1998 and the Cornhuskers hopes will ride on running the football with stud I-back Ameer Abdullah who rushed for 1500+ and 18 touchdowns despite being less than 100% the second half of the year. He should be well rested, ready to play and have no excuses here. QB Tommy Armstrong (11 interceptions, 18 sacks) will have to play a near perfect game and avoid the bad decisions that
plagued him in the Huskers two games (losses to Michigan State and Wisconsin) that really meant something.

USC: By contrast, the Trojans have to feel good about themselves for finishing their Pac 12 season strong and mauling rival Notre Dame in their finale. Junior quarterback Cody Kessler has emerged as a premier Pac 12 gunslinger under Steve Sarkisian and he has plenty of weapons to work with in Nelson Agholor (97, 1223, 11) and JuJu Smith (51, 658, 5). Javorius Allen (1337, 5.3, 9) is a solid and dependable changeup out of the backfield. The Trojans finished the year 15th in passing so if USC can establish the run early, Kessler should be able to do some business down the field as the game progresses.
The key for the Trojans on defense will be shutting down the run and forcing Armstrong to beat them through the air. USC is ranked 105th against the pass but they do have a ballhawking secondary that has accounted for 18 picks. The Trojans will have the best of it on special teams where Agholor has already taken two kicks “tuda House” and at PK where Heidari is 8-10 on field goals for the year including 2-2 from 50+. His Nebraska counterpart, a true freshman, is 2-7 outside of 40 yards
with a long of 44.

Allen’s Angles

USC leads the all-time series 3-0-1
Last meeting was in 2007 with USC winning 49-31 at Nebraska

Nebraska Player to Watch: Ameer Abdullah (1523 yards, 6.4 ypc.,18 TDS)
Riley will keep just one assistant so the Huskers will be playing with eight assistants that recruited them
Showing well in front of Riley for next year has resulted in sharp practices and possibly big effort
The OVER was 8-2 in Nebraska games this year

Trojan Player to Watch: QB Cody Kessler (3505 yards, 70.7%, 36/4)
USC’s 70% completion rate leads the nation in pass efficiency
This is the USC’s first ever trip to the Holiday Bowl despite the school being just 120 miles away
USC is 4-8 ATS the L3 years in non-conference games, 2-1 TY in Sarkisian’s first year

I have the winning side and total for this game, get this game along with an entire week of my bowl games for free by calling me personally at 1-800-664-8920.