The 2014 Holiday Bowl will feature two storied programs that fell short of expectations this year when USC and Nebraska (who have combined for 16 national championships and 10 Heisman Trophies) go head-to-head in San Diego at the National University Holiday Bowl for only the fifth time on Dec. 27.
Nebraska is making its fourth appearance in the Holiday Bowl (2-1 record), while USC will be making its first ever appearance.
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs USC Trojans
Date: Dec. 27, 2014
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: San Diego, California
Stadium: Qualcomm Stadium
TV Info: ESPN
Stream Info: WatchESPN.com
Radio: Nebraska Vs USC
Point Spread: Trojans -6
Game Total: 62
Analyzing The Nebraska Vs USC Holiday Bowl Online Football Odds
Nebraska Will Win the Holiday Bowl If
They slow down Cody Kessler, Buck Allen and Nelson Agholor – and play hard for an interim head coach!
If the Nebraska Cornhuskers want to end their 2014 campaign with a victory, then it’s imperative that they focus all of their attention on USC’s terrific trio of quarterback Cody Kessler, running back Buck Allen and wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
Kessler finished 10th in the nation in passing yards (3,505) and fourth in touchdown passes (36). Running back Javorius “Buck” Allen ranked 23rd in the nation in rushing yards (1,337) while topping the 100-yard plateau eight times. Gifted wide receiver Nelson Agholor ranked seventh in the country in receptions (97) and 10th in receiving yards (1,223 yards).
In addition to stopping USC’s three-headed monster, the Cornhuskers will also need to bring their best effort, seeing as how many of the teams’ players were dejected by the firing of likable head coach Bo Pelini just prior to the end of the regular season.
Nebraska hired Mike Riley away from Oregon State to replace Pelini, but longtime assistant Barney Cotton will serve as the interim coach for this bowl game. Maybe it’s me, but I think it will be interesting to see how much effort the Huskers will put into this one.
USC Will Win the Holiday Bowl If
They shut down Ameer Abdullah and force Tommy Armstrong to beat them!
In order for USC to slow down Nebraska’s potent offense, they’ll need to concentrate on stopping elite running back Ameer Abdullah first and foremost. You may not know it, but the Cornhuskers averaged 37.4 points per game (14th) in the country and a lot of that was due to their elusive senior back.
Abdullah topped the 100-yard mark seven times during the regular season and eclipsed 200 yards four times while finishing 11th in rushing touchdowns (18). The good news for the Trojans is the fact that they ranked an outstanding 27th against the run (132.3 ypg).
If USC can control Abdullah and force Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong to beat them with his arm, they’ll be in really good shape, seeing as how Armstrong completed just 51.7 percent of his passes on the season. More importantly, the strong-armed sophomore has tossed at least one interception in four of his last five starts
Will Nebraska Or USC Win the Holiday Bowl?
USC wins this contest for a couple of reasons, but mostly because the Cornhuskers have been thrown into a state of disarray by the late firing of Pelini.
Both teams have explosive offenses and nearly equal defenses, but only one team has continuity coming into this matchup and I believe that will be the deciding factor. However, I’m no fan of the point spread for this contest and think it should be a lot closer to three points than the nearly touchdown spread it is right now.
I’m going to back USC to win – and despite my trepidation to do so – cover the spread as well. While Nebraska has gone 1-4 ATS in its last five neutral site games, the USC Trojans have gone 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games against Big Ten opponents and 5-1 ATAS in their last six bowl games overall.