Southern California (11-2) vs Ohio State (11-2)
When: Friday, December 29th 2017
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Ohio State -6/64.5
In a game fitting of a terrific Rose Bowl, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Southern California Trojans will instead have to settle for this year’s Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. The rotating College Football Playoffs will be using the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as one of their semifinal games, so the football state of Texas will get this great matchup instead. It will be first Bowl game of the season featuring top 10 teams as we start getting some high-profile matchups heading towards New Year’s Day. This game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in the country as senior J.T. Barrett (2,939 yards, 35 TDs) leads the Ohio State squad, while sophomore Sam Darnold has 57 touchdown tosses in two seasons with the Trojans and is close to going over 7,000 yards passing in his career. The Buckeyes are averaging 42.5 points and USC is at 34.5, but the Trojans have upped that to 38.8 during its current five-game win streak. The running game for each team can’t be overlooked, however, as USC junior running back Ronald Jones II has rushed for 1,486 yards – averaging 162.8 per game during the current win streak – and 18 touchdowns overall. J.K. Dobbins (10 TDs) set a freshman rushing record for Ohio State with 1,364 yards while Barrett (732) and sophomore Mike Weber (608 yards, 10 TDs) have also had big years on the ground. It will be the 24th matchup between the schools and seven of them were in the Rose Bowl with USC winning four of those. The Trojans have won seven straight meetings, including the last showdown in 2009 when they defeated the Buckeyes 18-15 in Columbus. Ohio State won the Big Ten title by knocking off Wisconsin 27-21 and USC defeated Stanford 31-28 in the Pac-12 championship game.
Darnold started the 2017 season out slow, throwing six interceptions in the first three games despite winning all three, but was picked off only twice in the last five games and threw for 3,787 yards overall. Junior wideout Deontay Burnett leads the team with 74 catches for 975 yards and nine touchdowns, despite catching just one pass in the Pac-12 title game, while freshman Tyler Vaughns (51 catches, 690 yards, five TDs) and senior Steven Mitchell Jr. (41, 644, four) have also had big seasons. Linebacker Cameron Smith leads the Trojans defense with 102 tackles and junior lineman Rasheem Green posted five of his nine sacks in his last four games. USC is vulnerable against the pass, ranking 98th in the country at 246.5 yards allowed per game.
Barrett threw for two touchdowns with a pair of interceptions in the Big Ten title game win over Wisconsin and completed 64.7% of his passes this year. The Buckeyes have 11 different receivers who caught a touchdown this season including Parris Campbell (three TDs, 587 yards), sophomore K.J. Hill (three TDs, 55 receptions) and junior Johnnie Dixon, who led the team with eight touchdown catches. Junior linebacker Jerome Baker leads the team with 67 tackles and sophomore lineman Nick Bosa has disrupted quarterbacks with seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Ohio State is eighth in total defense (292.2) and eighth against the run (108.8).
This should be the best game of the Bowl season outside of the semifinal games, and I expect a back-and-forth battle of offenses in this one, much like last year’s Rose Bowl between USC and Penn State. The Buckeyes have the better defense, but they can be scorched at times – allowing 55 to Iowa is one example. This is just too many points to lay against a Sam Darnold-led offense.
Pick: USC +7.5
- Trojans are 16-34-1 ATS in their last 51 games following a straight up win.
- Trojans are 2-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.
- Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
- Trojans are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
- Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games.
- Trojans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss.
- Trojans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games on fieldturf.
- Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Friday games.
- Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in December.
- Trojans are 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
- Trojans are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
- Trojans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big Ten.
- Buckeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
- Buckeyes are 10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 vs. Pac-12.
- Buckeyes are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Friday games.
- Buckeyes are 3-7 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Buckeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Over is 4-0 in Trojans last 4 games following a ATS loss.
- Over is 5-0 in Trojans last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Over is 6-1 in Trojans last 7 games overall.
- Over is 5-1 in Trojans last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 5-1-1 in Trojans last 7 neutral site games.
- Over is 4-1 in Trojans last 5 non-conference games.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Trojans last 5 games in December.
- Over is 7-3-1 in Trojans last 11 Bowl games.
- Over is 7-3-1 in Trojans last 11 bowl games.
- Over is 5-0 in Buckeyes last 5 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Over is 4-0 in Buckeyes last 4 games following a ATS win.
- Over is 8-1 in Buckeyes last 9 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 7-1 in Buckeyes last 8 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Over is 8-2 in Buckeyes last 10 games overall.
- Over is 8-2 in Buckeyes last 10 games on fieldturf.