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College Football
Preview
Nebraska vs Southern California
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 27, 2014
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL STORYLINES

1. USC is playing in the Holiday Bowl for the first time while No. 22 Nebraska will have an interim coach when the teams face off on Dec. 27 in San Diego. Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian is looking to avoid a five-loss campaign in his first season as coach. The Cornhuskers fired Bo Pelini and have hired Mike Riley away from Oregon State but Barney Cotton will serve as the interim coach for the bowl game.

2. Cotton has been on the Nebraska coaching staff for eight years and also was an offensive lineman at the school. He has made it his quest to get the players ready to give a supreme effort despite all the uncertainty surrounding the program. “We know that we’ve got one last chance together,” Cotton told reporters. “That’s our future here, and then I hope and pray that everybody gets an opportunity to do what they want to do next year.”

3. Both schools are known for being high-profile football factories and powers in the sport. But this contest will mark only the fifth meeting with USC holding a 3-0-1 edge. The most-recent matchup was in 2007, when the top-ranked Trojans posted a 49-31 victory at Nebraska.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: USC -6.5

ABOUT NEBRASKA (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten): The Cornhuskers average 37.4 points per game with running back Ameer Abdullah (1,523 yards, 18 touchdowns), who topped 200 rushing yards four times this season, the star attraction. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. passed for 2,314 yards and 19 scores and rushed for 664 yards and five touchdowns, while receiver Kenny Bell had 717 yards and five touchdowns on 40 receptions. Defensively, Nebraska allows an average of 24.8 points and receives strong contributions from weak-side linebacker Zaire Anderson (team-best 95 tackles), defensive end Randy Gregory (team-leading seven sacks) and safety Nate Gerry (five interceptions).

ABOUT USC (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12): The Trojans average 35.1 points as standout quarterback Cody Kessler is in the midst of an outstanding season, passing for 3,505 yards and 36 touchdowns against four interceptions. Running back Javorius “Buck” Allen has 1,337 yards – topping 100 yards eight times – and big-play receiver Nelson Agholor has 97 receptions for 1,223 yards and 11 touchdowns. USC gives up 23.8 points per game and the star defenders include defensive end Leonard Williams (six sacks), inside linebacker Hayes Pullard (team-leading 87 tackles) and outside linebacker Su’a Cravens (team-best 16 tackles for losses).

PREDICTION:
USC 44, Nebraska 42
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Nebraska 9-3 W1 37.4 24.8 6-1 3-2 1-1 0-0 5-3
Southern California 8-4 W1 35.1 23.8 5-1 3-3 7-2 0-0 6-3
Last Meeting
Nebraska Southern California
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
9/15/07 USC 49 NEB 31 420 31 389 457 313 144
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Nebraska S. Keller 66.7 389 2 2
Southern California J. Booty 63.3 144 2 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Nebraska M. Lucky 17 33 1.9 0
Southern California S. Johnson 11 144 13.1 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Nebraska M. Purify 7 80 11.4 0
Southern California F. Davis 3 38 12.7 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Nebraska C. Glenn 2
Southern California S. Havili 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Nebraska T. Armstrong Jr. 51.7 2314 19 11
Southern California C. Kessler 70.7 3505 36 4
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Nebraska A. Abdullah 237 1523 6.4 18
Southern California J. Allen 250 1337 5.3 9
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Nebraska K. Bell 40 717 17.9 5
Southern California N. Agholor 97 1223 12.6 11
Touchdowns Player TD
Nebraska A. Abdullah 21
Southern California N. Agholor 13
Quickchart Matchup
Nebraska Off vs  Southern California Def
446.2 yards
398.2 yards
5.5 yards/rush
3.9 yards/rush
7.7 yards/attempt
6.4 yards/attempt
Southern California Off vs  Nebraska Def
452.8 yards
372.8 yards
3.9 yards/rush
4.7 yards/rush
8.4 yards/attempt
5.9 yards/attempt