Who: Ohio State (10-2) vs. USC (10-2)
When: 8:30 p.m. ET, Dec. 29
Where: Arlington, Texas – Cotton Bowl
The Buckeyes and Trojans have a storied tradition of classic bowl battles, which have usually taken place in the Rose Bowl. Let’s take a quick look at this matchup.
J.T. vs Sam
This is an intriguing match up between two quarterbacks that get things done in different ways. Barrett is not a great passer but the Buckeyes can win this game on Barrett’s legs alone. Darnold will be a first round pick in the NFL Draft whenever he decides to leave USC and while his season has been a little disappointing, the expectations that were placed on Darnold were way too much for any sophomore quarterback. Darnold is the better quarterback in this game but Barrett’s legs make him very dangerous for the Men from Troy’s defense.
Can USC Block Nick Bosa?
Bosa paces the Buckeyes in sacks (six) and tackles for loss (12.5), earning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. Darnold is 20-3 as a starter and is on the verge of becoming the first Trojan signal-caller to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, entering this game with 3,787 yards passing and completing 63.7 percent of his attempts with 26 touchdowns. Darnold threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns with an interception against Penn State last season in the Rose Bowl. It is imperative for Bosa and the rest of the Buckeyes to pressure Darnold because if they don’t, Darnold will have a field day with the Buckeyes defense.
Ohio State offensive line against USC Defensive line
OSU must deal with a Trojan front that helps USC lead the nation in sacks (43) and has 24 takeaways. Rasheem Green is the stud along the Trojan front, and led the team with nine sacks. For the Buckeyes to win this game, they have to be able to run the ball and that could be tough against the Trojans’ defensive line. The Buckeyes’ front is led by Rimington Award winner Billy Price. Tackle Jamarco Jones is an anchor on the edge for a unit that has gotten better as the season has progressed. Ohio State’s offensive line has played very well as of late, while USC has had a great defensive line all year.
Prediction: The winner of this game may be the team that can run the ball better and my guess is that would favor the Buckeyes. Either way Darnold will make enough plays to keep this game close all of the way. This game is a toss-up and in the end I like the Buckeyes behind their strong running game.
Buckeyes 31 Trojans 27
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