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Caleb Williams Amazes for USC in Cotton Bowl and NFL Fans Are Ready to Tank for QB

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 02: Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans throws a touchdown pass against the Tulane Green Wave in the second quarter of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on January 02, 2023 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tulane earned a shocking upset over USC in the Cotton Bowl, but Caleb Williams still put on a show in the 46-45 loss.

The Heisman Trophy winner set a new Cotton Bowl record with five touchdown passes, totaling 460 yards on 36-of-51 passing.

His mobility in the pocket was especially impressive on multiple eye-catching plays.

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

This scramble and grab‼️ <br><br>Caleb Williams 🀝 Brenden Rice <a href="https://t.co/S2jjuYOpYn">pic.twitter.com/S2jjuYOpYn</a>

ESPN College Football @ESPNCFB

This call was reversed to a TD by Brenden Rice‼️ <a href="https://t.co/RXLMO88Ecg">pic.twitter.com/RXLMO88Ecg</a>

Though the quarterback isn't eligible for the 2023 NFL draft, Williams' play has fans already looking ahead to 2024 with the possibility of tanking all next season to get the No. 1 pick.

Collin Sherwin @CollinSherwin

The Bucs are already tanking for Caleb Williams.

Jeff Asher @Crimealytics

After watching Caleb Williams I'd be cool if the Saints started Ian Book for 17 games next season.

Tim Thorsen @mustardbased

Beginning to think <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#broncos</a> should have kept Hackett another year so they could be first in line for Caleb Williams. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CottonBowl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CottonBowl</a>

Ralph Malbrough @SaintsForecast

Caleb Williams is a fβ€”- unicorn. He's single-handedly making me reevaluate my anti tanking beliefs

Brendan Darr @BrendanDarr

Caleb Williams is a magician. I hope whoever is Washington's new owner is watching this and just thinking about it, ya know?

Matt Thomas @SportsMT

Maybe the Texans should intentionally lose for one more season. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CalebWilliams?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CalebWilliams</a>

Zac Jackson @AkronJackson

The tank for Caleb Williams is gonna have the NFL flexing games to 7am on the CW next year at this time.

BetMGM 🦁 @BetMGM

Which team will draft Caleb Williams first overall in 2024?

Garland Gillen @garlandgillen

The No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft…Caleb Williams <a href="https://t.co/lXmJNucjKQ">https://t.co/lXmJNucjKQ</a>

Matthew Herchik @MatthewHerchik

Caleb Williams is unbelievable. Some NFL team is going to be damn lucky to have him. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CottonBowl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CottonBowl</a>

Many fans were already comparing Williams to NFL MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes.

Shad Powers 😷 @shad_powers

People compare a lot of quarterbacks to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/patrickmahomes?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#patrickmahomes</a> incorrectly, but Caleb Williams at USC plays almost identically to Mahomes style-wise. Feels to me like he will be an NFL game-changer, too.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CottonBowl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CottonBowl</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/uscfootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@uscfootball</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CALEBcsw?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CALEBcsw</a>

Jonathan Cisowski @cisow77

Watching Caleb Williams talent, arm strength, and scrambling is just another version of 'Patrick Mahomes 2.0' but bigger <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CottonBowl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CottonBowl</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/uscfb?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@uscfb</a>

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

I'll say it again Caleb Williams is the Patrick Mahomes of College Football. Carry the hell on…

Matt Hinton @MattRHinton

no young QB should attempt to play like Mahomes but Caleb Williams is the first one I think kinda does

JSS @JScottShep

If Caleb Williams were suddenly eligible, he would be the #1 pick without a shred of doubt. Ridiculous talent, Mahomes-esque.

Jason Smith @howaboutafresca

There's times when I watch Caleb Williams and I see the next Patrick Mahomes.

It's high praise, but the upside is apparent after a dominant 2022 season after transferring from Oklahoma. Williams totaled 4,075 passing yards with 37 touchdowns in 13 games entering the day, throwing just four interceptions. He also added 372 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, helping him run away with Heisman Trophy voting.

Of course, he can't do it all, and the rest of USC wasn't quite as impressive on Monday.

Tulane averaged 13 yards per pass attempt and nine yards per rush against a Trojans defense that struggled mightily. Add in some special teams mistakes, and the Green Wave were able to overcome a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes.B

But that isn't enough to quiet the hype around Williams, with numerous NFL teams surely dreaming of him becoming their next franchise quarterback.