USC’s Caleb Williams to skip Holiday Bowl, fueling NFL expectations

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By Samantha Rose

USC quarterback Caleb Williams will not play for the Trojans when they face No. 15 Louisville in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27 (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), USC head coach Lincoln Riley said Monday.

This latest development further fuels the expectation that Williams will enter the 2024 NFL Draft.

Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, is the heavy betting favorite to be the first overall draft pick, as he has been all season. He is currently listed at -300 (bet $10 to win $13.33 total) to go first overall. The player with the next-highest odds is North Carolina QB Drake Maye at +250, followed by 2023 Heisman frontrunner Jayden Daniels of LSU at +1600.

Williams has been widely expected to enter the upcoming draft all year, and he is a strong candidate to be selected No. 1 overall after two impressive seasons at USC.

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He recently told the Los Angeles Times that his choice on whether to enter the draft would ultimately be “a game-time decision,” though the Times also reported that people close to Williams deem it highly unlikely he would return to USC. His decision to forego the Trojans’ bowl game is the clearest indication yet that he’s turning toward the NFL.

Williams won the Heisman in 2022 after a spectacular debut season in Los Angeles after transferring from Oklahoma. He then passed for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season, his third in college football.

Veteran backup QB Miller Moss and touted freshman Malachi Nelson — one of the top overall recruits in the 2023 high school recruiting class — will be the top candidates to lead USC against the Cardinals, but Riley said he hasn’t decided who will be his signal-caller. The Trojans struggled mightily down the stretch this season despite Williams’ continued solid play, losing five of their final six games behind one of the worst defenses in college football.

Williams has passed for 10,082 yards, with 93 touchdowns passes and just 14 interceptions in his three years at Oklahoma and USC. He also rushed for 960 yards with 27 touchdowns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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