It’s been a season of ups and downs for the USC Trojans, (8-5, 6-3) who arrived in San Diego on Saturday, December 26th to prepare to meet the No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (9-3, 6-2) in the Holiday Bowl. This is the Trojans’ second year participating in the Bowl. .
The Trojans defeated Nebraska in the 2014 Holiday Bowl, 45-42.
“This is something that just worked out for us,” said Mark Neville, Executive Director of San Diego Bowl Game Association. “We saw this as a great opportunity for us to put on a championship-caliber football game for our fans in San Diego.”
The two teams have not faced one another since 1966 and this year’s matchup should not disappoint. The Trojans head to San Diego with one of the best offensive games in the Pac-12. USC is ranked 23rd nationally in passing plays of 10 yards or more and quarterback Cody Kessler has completed 67.6 of his passes with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions. A favorite Kessler target, sophomore receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has caught 85 passes for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
The Trojans can move the ball on the ground with the dynamic play of Ronald Jones II and Justin Davis who are closing in on 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Then there is the play of triple threat, CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, the only player in the country with 300 yards receiving, 600 yards in kick runbacks, 200 punt returns yards and 30 tackles. He ranks 25th in in the country at 10.9 yards per punt return. Jackson, a Hornung Award finalist is dangerous in the open field having returned two punts for touchdowns. The Trojan defense lead by OLB Su’a Cravens is 15th in the nation in sacks.
The Trojans will have their work cut out for them as the defensive play of the Badgers is top-notch and will prove challenging for the Men of Troy. Wisonsin is ranked first nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 13 points a game. Badger linebacker Joe Schobert is the 2015 Big Ten Linebacker of the Year and is in the national top 15 in forced fumbles, tackles for loss and sacks. Offensively, the Badgers, led by Joel Stave, have averaged 148.1 yards rushing and 229.3 yards passing per game. They played in the 2014 Outback Bowl beating Auburn, 34-31.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Trojans a 67.1 percent chance of winning. The game will be broadcast on ESPN, Wednesday, December 30, 7:30 PST, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego.