Moss Leads Trojans to Holiday Bowl Victory

By Paul Bartelt 
IPA Sports Editor

San Diego, Ca.   After waiting three seasons as a backup, quarterback Miller Moss led the USC Trojans to a 42-28 win over number 16 ranked Louisville Saturday night in the DIRECT TV Holiday Bowl. Last season’s Heisman Trophy quarterback Caleb Williams opted out of the game in preparation for the 2024 NFL Draft in April.

Miller, in his first start for the Trojans, threw a record six touchdown passes before 35,317 in attendance at Petco Park, located only 125 miles from the USC campus. A redshirt sophomore, Miller guided the Trojans to their first Bowl win since 2017 and ended a three game losing streak. “I’ve worked my whole life for this,” said Miller. “I have been competing my whole life.” 

USC trailed 7-0 early before Trojans safety Max Williams sacked Louisville quarterback Jake Plummer forcing a fumble recovered by teammate Solomon Byrd at the Louisville 19 yard line. Three plays later Moss connected with Tahj Washington on a 17 yard scoring pass, the start of four consecutive touchdown drives for the Trojans. In the second quarter USC blocked a Louisville punt and took over on the 18 yard line. Two plays later Kyron Hudson scored on a nine yard touchdown pass from Moss giving the Trojans a 21-7 lead. In all, USC scored 21 points in the second quarter taking a 28-14 point lead into the lockeroom at halftime. Moss, who threw three touchdown passes on his last six attempts before the half, dominated the Louisville defense secondary.  This did not look like the USC team that had five losses in their last six games.

Late in the third quarter Ja’Kobi Lane caught his second touchdown pass of the night from Moss over two Louisville defenders and USC led 35-21. Early in the fourth quarter Louisville cornerback Quincy Riley intercepted a Moss pass on the one yard line and returned it 61 yards setting up a Isaac Guerendo one yard rushing touchdown making the score 35-28. On the ensuing possession, Moss led the Trojans on a 11 play- 53 yard scoring drive connecting with Duce Robinson on a 44 yard touchdown pass with 10 minutes remaining in the game as USC led 44-28.

For his dominant guidance of the USC offense, Moss was named the Holiday Bowl offensive Most Valuable Player, setting a record with six touchdown passes in the Trojans win. Guerendo led all rushers with 161 yards and three touchdowns for Louisville. The USC offense finished with only 71 yards rushing on the night as Louisville managed to have the ball on offense for 13 more minutes than USC, totaling almost an entire quarter of possession. Louisville finishes the year with a 10-4 record losing their final three games.

After a 6-0 start, the Trojans finish 8-5 on the season, their last in the Pac 12 Conference as USC is headed to the Big Ten Conference next season. Prior to tonight, Moss had only attempted 32 passes this season, in the Holiday Bowl he had 23 completions on 33 attempts for 372 yards and six scores.

The DIRECT TV Holiday Bowl was broadcast live on FOX to a national television audience.