2014 Holiday Bowl final score: USC holds off Nebraska, 45-42
You could say defense took a holiday in this San Diego shootout! You definitely could!
No. 24 USC and Nebraska each finishes 9-4 after an explosive Holiday Bowl that saw a combined 1,030 yards of offense, 515 for each team.
The biggest contributors to that total were USC quarterback Cody Kessler (321 passing yards), Nebraska counterpart Tommy Armstrong (410 total), USC back “Buck” Allen (167), Nebraska back Ameer Abdullah (150), and Nebraska receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El (102). USC receiver Adoree’ Jackson, who caught 73 yards, also had a 98-yard kick return. Yards!
The first year of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC goes down as a success, if one with some surprising losses, uneven performances, and shaky finishes. This one had some of that stuff! Nebraska came back from down 45-27 late in the third, going for a fourth down conversion with two minutes left that could’ve set up the tying or go-ahead score, then had 17 seconds to try to get in range for a 56-yard Hail Mary. Nothing easy for USC.
This was Nebraska’s first game of the post-Bo Pelini era. And yes, with players supporting their fired coach, the team fell to exactly four losses for the seventh year in a row. New head coach Mike Riley observed from the stands and hopped into the ESPN booth for a time, noting he wishes Abdullah were coming back next year.
If quarterback Kessler happens to return to college instead of leaving for the NFL Draft, expect tons of offseason hype for the Trojans. But even if Kessler, receiver Nelson Agholor, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, and another couple juniors leave, this will still be an experienced roster that returns a load of starters. Players like five-star freshman Jackson, who posted two touchdowns against Nebraska, just continue to emerge at Southern Cal.