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Louisville vs. USC: Picks, best bets for Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Wednesday

The Cardinals and Trojans meet in America’s Finest City. We go over how each team fared this season and make a prediction.


The Louisville Cardinals face the USC Trojans in the DIRECTV Holiday Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET from San Diego, California.

Louisville (10-3, 7-1 ACC) reached the ACC Championship Game this season, where they ultimately fell to Florida State, 16-6. The Cardinals defeated Notre Dame, Miami, and Duke this season, and recorded losses to Pitt and Kentucky. Jack Plummer led the offense with over 3,000 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Running back Jawhar Jordan added over 1,100 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground, and will not play in this bowl as he enters the transfer portal.

USC (7-5, 5-4) saw their dreams of a playoff berth with Caleb Williams at the helm fall apart in South Bend as Williams threw a career-high three interceptions against Notre Dame. From that point on, the Trojans were a mess. They fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch partway through the season and seriously struggled defensively. They also lost to Washington, Utah, and UCLA, and ended up beating Cal by one point. Williams will not play in the bowl as he prepares to enter the NFL Draft.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

Louisville: 24 overall, 41 offense, 26 defense
USC: 39 overall, 3 offense, 109 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game


RB Jawhar Jordan - Out (transfer portal)
DB Benjamin Perry - Questionable (undisclosed)
WR Jamari Thrash - Out (transfer portal)
EDGE Kameron Wilson - Out (transfer portal)


QB Caleb Williams - Out (draft)
WR Raleek Brown - Questionable (hamstring)
WR Makai Lemon - Questionable (undisclosed)
RB MarShawn Lloyd - Out (draft)
WR Brenden Rice - Out (draft)
CB Domani Jackson - Out (draft)


Against The Spread in 2023

Louisville: 6-7 ATS
USC: 3-9 ATS

Total in 2023

Louisville: Over 6-6-1
USC: Over 9-3

Team Pace

Louisville: 27.6 seconds per play
USC: 25.0 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Louisville -7.5
Total: 58.5
Moneyline: Louisville -305, USC +245


58°F, Cloudy, 10% chance of rain, 3 MPH winds

Our Best Bet for the Holiday Bowl

Louisville -7.5

The wheels fell off at USC in the second half of the season, and it will look even rougher for this Trojans team without star quarterback Caleb Williams leading the offense. With virtually no defense and a backup quarterback attempting to fill the shoes of the likely top overall pick, the Trojans will struggle against this tough Louisville team. Plummer and the Cardinals cover by more than a touchdown here.