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Tulane scores 16 points in under 5 minutes to shock USC at Cotton Bowl Classic

Tulane overcame Caleb Williams’ five touchdown passes to stun USC in the Cotton Bowl Classic for one of the biggest wins for the program in recent memory, 46-45.

And the Green Wave did it in dramatic fashion.

After a Denis Lynch field goal put USC up 45-30 with 4:30 left to go, Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt started the next drive with a 59-yard pass to Deuce Watts to get to the USC 4-yard line. Tyjae Spears then ran the ball four yards for a touchdown to cut the Trojans’ lead to 45-37.

Tulane kicked the ball off and Mario Williams fumbled the ball out of bounds at their own 1-yard line. Running back Austin Jones failed to get any positive yardage and on his second attempt he was swallowed in the end zone for a safety. USC led 45-39 with 3:20 left in the game.

The Green Wave got the ball back and Pratt led the team to a 12-play, 66-yard drive and ended it with a touchdown pass to Alex Bauman, which was initially ruled an incomplete pass but replay overturned the call and ruled it a touchdown. Tulane fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, went wild.

Tulane would stave off 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 to Jha’Quan Jackson earlier in the game. Pratt had 83 yards on the ground as well.


Dorian Williams #2 of the Tulane Green Wave celebrates following the teams win over USC Trojans in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 2, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Spears dominated on the ground. He ran 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 under five minutes to play seems like a sure thing but a bad turn of events switched up everything.

Williams finished 37-of-52 with 462 passing yards, five touchdown passes and an interception.

Brenden Rice led USC with six catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Tahj Washington had five catches for 109 yards. Michael Jackson III, Terrell Bynum and Kyron Hudson had touchdown catches as well.

USC has not won a bowl game since 2016 when Clay Helton took over the USC gig full-time. 

Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans scrambles against the Tulane Green Wave in the second quarter of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 02, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Tulane has now won three out of its last four bowl appearances. The team turned around from a 2-10 season last year to a 12-2 season and the most since 1998 when they finished undefeated under Tommy Bowden and Chris Scelfo.

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