Tulane topped all five of Caleb Williams’ touchdown passes to stun USC in the Cotton Bowl Classic and earn one of the program’s biggest victories in recent memory, 46-45.
And the Green Wave did it spectacularly.
After a Denis Lynch field goal put USC up 45-30 with 4:30 remaining, Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt started the ensuing drive with a 59-yard pass to Deuce Watts to get into the game. USC 4 yard line. Tyjae Spears then ran the ball four yards for a touchdown to cut the Trojans’ lead to 45-37.
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Tulane punted the ball and Mario Williams fumbled the ball out of bounds at his own 1-yard line. Running back Austin Jones failed to get any positive distance and on his second down was swallowed in the end zone by a safety. USC led 45-39 with 3:20 remaining in the game.
The Green Wave got the ball back and Pratt led the team to a 12-play, 66-yard drive and finished it off with a touchdown pass to Alex Bauman, which was initially ruled an incompletion, but the replay overturned the decision and ruled it a touchdown. . . The Tulane fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas went wild.
Tulane would prevent any chance of a USC comeback and win the game.
Pratt was 8 of 17 for 234 yards and two touchdown passes. He had an 87-yard touchdown run to Jha’Quan Jackson early in the game. Pratt also had 83 rushing yards.
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Spears dominated on the ground. She rushed for 205 yards on 17 carries and scored four touchdowns.
Jackson set the bar with his lone catch among receivers, but Bauman had three catches for 46 yards.
USC looked like an offense that was going to dominate. Being up 15 points with less than five minutes to go seems a sure thing, but a bad turn of events changed everything.
Williams finished 37 of 52 with 462 passing yards, five touchdown passes and one interception.
Brenden Rice led USC with six receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Tahj Washington had five receptions for 109 yards. Michael Jackson III, Terrell Bynum and Kyron Hudson also had touchdown receptions.
USC hasn’t won a bowl game since 2016 when Clay Helton took over the USC gig full-time.
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Tulane has now won three of his last four bowl appearances. The team went from a 2-10 season last year to a 12-2 season and the most since 1998 when they went undefeated under Tommy Bowden and Chris Scelfo.