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Unclear if Caleb Williams will play for USC in Holiday Bowl

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USC learned its bowl destination Sunday. Now the Trojans wait to learn if their star quarterback will play in the Holiday Bowl.

Caleb Williams’ status remains one of the biggest questions after the Trojans were announced as the Pac-12 representative for the Holiday Bowl to face No. 15 Louisville on Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. in San Diego’s Petco Park.

The Cardinals (10-3) are coming off a 16-6 loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday. Under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm, Louisville had its first 10-win season since 2013 and reached the conference title game for the first time in program history.

The Trojans (7-5) tumbled out of the playoff conversation unceremoniously by losing five of their last six games and finishing in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12. The late-season crash will have Lincoln Riley coaching in a bowl game outside of the prestigious New Year’s Six. He missed Oklahoma’s trip to the Alamo Bowl in 2021 because he had already bolted for USC.

USC was selected for the Holiday Bowl, which gets the fourth pick of Pac-12 teams, while Utah and Oregon State, which finished with identical 5-4 conference records as USC but had better overall records at 8-4, were placed in the Las Vegas and Sun bowls, respectively. The Las Vegas Bowl gets the fifth choice among Pac-12 teams while the Sun Bowl chooses sixth.

The draw of a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in front of a Southern California fan base may have aided USC’s climb up the pecking order for the Holiday Bowl, but Williams could be a prime candidate to opt out of the postseason game. The projected No. 1 pick in the NFL draft told The Times after the regular season that it will be a “game-time decision” whether he declares for the NFL draft. Williams has until Jan. 15 to officially enter his name into the draft, but it’s unlikely that he’ll play in the bowl game if he intends to leave school early.

The junior threw for 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns this season while improving his passing efficiency to 170.1, besting the school record he set last year.

Louisville is led by its own transfer quarterback Jack Plummer, whose college career includes stops at Purdue and California. Plummer threw for 3,063 yards and 21 touchdowns while running back Jawhar Jordan ran for 1,128 yards to become Louisville’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2019.

Jordan could be a challenge for USC’s defense that was the worst in the Pac-12 against the run. The Trojans will want to make a good first impression on incoming defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn, who was hired Friday. The former UCLA defensive coordinator has already joined the team. Freshman receiver Ja’Kobi Lane posted a photo on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday of Lynn standing on the practice field with receiver Duce Robinson.

“Warm welcome,” Lane wrote.


USC learned its bowl destination Sunday. Now the Trojans wait to learn if their star quarterback will play in the Holiday Bowl.

Caleb Williams’ status remains one of the biggest questions after the Trojans were announced as the Pac-12 representative for the Holiday Bowl to face No. 15 Louisville on Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. in San Diego’s Petco Park.

The Cardinals (10-3) are coming off a 16-6 loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday. Under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm, Louisville had its first 10-win season since 2013 and reached the conference title game for the first time in program history.

The Trojans (7-5) tumbled out of the playoff conversation unceremoniously by losing five of their last six games and finishing in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12. The late-season crash will have Lincoln Riley coaching in a bowl game outside of the prestigious New Year’s Six. He missed Oklahoma’s trip to the Alamo Bowl in 2021 because he had already bolted for USC.

USC was selected for the Holiday Bowl, which gets the fourth pick of Pac-12 teams, while Utah and Oregon State, which finished with identical 5-4 conference records as USC but had better overall records at 8-4, were placed in the Las Vegas and Sun bowls, respectively. The Las Vegas Bowl gets the fifth choice among Pac-12 teams while the Sun Bowl chooses sixth.

The draw of a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in front of a Southern California fan base may have aided USC’s climb up the pecking order for the Holiday Bowl, but Williams could be a prime candidate to opt out of the postseason game. The projected No. 1 pick in the NFL draft told The Times after the regular season that it will be a “game-time decision” whether he declares for the NFL draft. Williams has until Jan. 15 to officially enter his name into the draft, but it’s unlikely that he’ll play in the bowl game if he intends to leave school early.

The junior threw for 3,633 yards and 30 touchdowns this season while improving his passing efficiency to 170.1, besting the school record he set last year.

Louisville is led by its own transfer quarterback Jack Plummer, whose college career includes stops at Purdue and California. Plummer threw for 3,063 yards and 21 touchdowns while running back Jawhar Jordan ran for 1,128 yards to become Louisville’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2019.

Jordan could be a challenge for USC’s defense that was the worst in the Pac-12 against the run. The Trojans will want to make a good first impression on incoming defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn, who was hired Friday. The former UCLA defensive coordinator has already joined the team. Freshman receiver Ja’Kobi Lane posted a photo on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday of Lynn standing on the practice field with receiver Duce Robinson.

“Warm welcome,” Lane wrote.

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