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2023 DirecTV Holiday Bowl, 12-27-23: Photo Gallery/Recap

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USC QB Miller Moss gets a pass off in the third quarter of the 2023 Holiday Bowl

USC quarterback Miller Moss gets a pass off under pressure from Louisville's Trey Franklin in the second half.

The USC Trojans (8-5) reversed a late season trend by upending the ACC runner-up Louisville Cardinals (10-4) 42-28 in the 2023 DirecTV Holiday Bowl. Both teams started the season 6-0, and each experienced late season three-game losing streaks. Playing without 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams, sophomore quarterback Miller Moss completed 23-of-33 passes for 372 yards, six touchdowns and one interception en route to Holiday Bowl Offensive MVP honors.

“I feel like people are always trying to pit quarterbacks against each other, especially in the same room in college these days,” Moss said of his relationship with Williams. “But we’ve had a really, really positive experience working together. I’ll always appreciate Caleb for what he did, not only for me but for this program. He was a great leader for us and obviously a tremendous player. We’ll always be really, really great friends.”

Four different Trojans caught touchdown passes. Senior Tahj Washington (7 receptions, 99 yards, 2 TDs) led the way, but freshmen receivers Ja’Kobi Lane (3 receptions, 60 yards, 2 TDs), Duce Robinson and Kyron Hudson each caught touchdowns.

“They were great,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said. “Guys made a lot of competitive plays. It was fun to see. Good combination of young guys step up and make some big-time plays, obviously there were several of those. And to see some of our kind of older veteran guys, Tahj, Kyron, some of those guys step up. It was huge. To see Tabo (TE Carson Tabaracci) step in for Lake (McRee) after Lake got injured was awesome.”

On the defensive side of the ball, co-interim defensive coordinators Brian Odom and Shaun Nua led a unit that struggled to stop Louisville running back Isaac Guerendo (23 carries, 161 yards, 3 TDs). However, the unit tackled with ferocity, registered three quarterback sacks and held Louisville senior signal-caller Jack Plummer to just 141 yards passing.

Trojans nickel back Jaylin Smith was all over the field and earned Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP honors (12 tackles). Smith played at a new position in the game and he caught the attention of Riley, among others.

“We had guys at different positions, Jaylin Smith played a position tonight he’s never played before,” Riley explained. “Max (Williams) has always played a million different positions, so that wasn’t much new to him. To see Prophet (Brown) step up, to see some of our young defensive players step up. Some guys that hadn’t played very many snaps for us all year. A week ago, we had to change the defensive game plan because of the players that were available and a few guys that decided not to be here. Our guys didn’t flinch.”

For a team that lost five of its last six games entering the bowl, the Trojans final game as a Pac-12 member left everyone satisfied. We go inside some of the images from last night’s contest.

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