College football bowl season was entertaining from start to finish, and there is still one game remaining: The national title game between Georgia and TCU.
One of the wildest finishes was the Cotton Bowl between USC and Tulane.
The Green Wave came roaring back down 15 toward the end of the fourth quarter and walked away with a 46-45 victory against the Trojans.
The Green Wave manufactured an unreal turnaround after winning just two games in 2021, and head coach Willie Fritz again became a national talking point.
However, Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley once again struggled in a bowl game, and his record dropped to 1-4 in bowl games in his head coaching career.
Lincoln Riley is now 1-4 in bowl games as a head coach pic.twitter.com/grJ2V2rmnF
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 2, 2023
The Trojans won 11 games in Riley’s first season and lost to Utah in the Pac-12 title game, so it was still a very successful season overall after USC won four games in 2021.
But Riley’s bowl game struggles continue.
Here are the results of the five bowl games in his career, with the first four being during his run with the Oklahoma Sooners:
- 2017 season, Rose Bowl: Georgia beat Oklahoma 54-48
- 2018 season, Orange Bowl: Alabama beat Oklahoma 45-34
- 2019 season, Peach Bowl: LSU beat Oklahoma 63-28
- 2020 season, Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma beat Florida 55-20
- 2022 season, Cotton Bowl: Tulane beat USC 46-45
There are plenty of reasons for this Cotton Bowl loss that shouldn’t fall on Riley’s shoulders.
Mario Williams bobbled the kickoff and the Trojans got the ball at their own one-yard line late in the game, causing a safety and giving Tulane the ball back.
Alex Grinch’s defense once again got exposed, and star players such as Jordan Addison and Travis Dye didn’t suit up in the game.
Nonetheless, USC brought in Riley to win bowl games, and his record in his career is not encouraging.
The Trojans will be strong in 2024 with Heisman Trophy-winning QB Caleb Williams returning, as well as Arizona WR Dorian Singer transferring to USC.
USC will be back, but Riley’s bowl game record continues to be a talking point.