Wisconsin (9-3) vs USC (8-5)
When: Wednesday, December 30th 2015
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Time: 10:30 ET | TV: ESPN
The Southern California Trojans will look to extend their record to 7-0 all-time against the Wisconsin Badgers when the two teams meet in this year’s Holiday Bowl from San Diego. Head coach Clay Helton took over for the fired Steve Sarkisian halfway through the season and guided the Trojans to the PAC-12 South title and a trip to the conference championship game. They ended up losing 41-22 to Stanford, but it was good enough to make Helton the permanent hire. Helton fired several assistants in the week after his hire and it could cause them some problems against Wisconsin. Senior quarterback Cody Kessler took a step back from his brilliant junior year, but still put up some fine numbers. He threw for 3,315 yards and 28 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. His offensive line let him down a little as he was sacked 35 times this season. He has a great weapon in wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught 85 passes for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns. Adoree Jackson was voted the most valuable player for the Trojans this season, contributing as a wide receiver, defensive back and punt returner. Opponents proved they can throw against the Trojans defense this season to the tune of 253.8 yards a game – 96th in FBS.
The Badgers come into this game with one of the best defensive units in the country. They allowed an FBS-best 13.1 points per game to go along with their 3rd-ranked overall defense in terms of yards allowed. They held six opponents to 10 points or less this season and are led by Joe Schobert. The outside linebacker produced 18.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and forced five fumbles, which ties the single-season program record. The Badgers didn’t beat a team with a winning record this season with their three losses coming against Alabama, Iowa, and Northwestern. Senior quarterback Joel Stave will be playing his last game and he’ll look to rebound from a poor outing in the season finale. Stave threw for just 79 yards in the 31-21 victory against Minnesota with no touchdowns and an interception, giving him six picks in the last four games. Stave has a terrific target in Alex Erickson, who caught 72 passes for 924 yards this season and could pass 1,000 yards in his final game. Running back Corey Clement should play today after missing most of the season with injury problems. He ran for 115 yards on just 11 carries and scored three times against Rutgers – one of only three games he played. Dare Ogunbowale picked up the slack in a big way in the season finale rushing 33 times for 155 yards.
This Wisconsin defense is really good and the Trojan offensive line is average at best. I think the Badgers can produce enough points to get the job done here. I’ll take the 3 and the hook. USC will be the trendy public pick today (63%).
Pick: Wisconsin +3.5