Defense Carries Buckeyes to Cotton Bowl Victory


Without All-American cornerback Denzel Ward, who chose to sit out the game after declaring for the NFL Draft, Ohio State's secondary was expected to be tested against USC quarterback Sam Darnold, especially without their top playmaker in the defensive backfield.

From the beginning, the Trojans fell behind when Deontay Burnett fumbled the ball after a big first down. The offense averaged almost as many rushing yards per game (250) as passing (273) and Barrett is much more effective as a passer when the constant play-fakes are opening bigger windows due to success in the running game.

Southern Cal was the Pac-12 champion and Ohio State the Big Ten champion. This year's Cotton Bowl was a true tug of war as neither team took their play to the next level.

The Trojan offense will be going against arguably the best and most athletically gifted defensive front it has all year, and Darnold would love nothing more than to show National Football League scouts that he can be the best player on a field full of high draft picks. Meanwhile, the OSU defense laid an egg against the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma, but it has more often than not been able to make teams one-dimensional by nearly completely shutting down the likes of running backs Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin).

There are examples of teams that wanted to be at bowl games losing those games.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Southern California - Third-year sophomore and top National Football League prospect QB Sam Darnold could be playing his last game for the Trojans.

With Josh Rosen sitting out the Cactus Bowl against Kansas State, this was a great opportunity for Sam Darnold to have the spotlight to himself.

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They win by being more successful on offense. Vaughns finished with six catches for 119 yards, while Pittman Jr. finished with three catches for 69 yards. So why not move the game to Big D and get a Rose Bowl going in the Jerry Dome? You can sign up for a free 5-day trial right here. J.K. Dobbins was 10 the last time the two teams played each other. The Trojans did a tremendous job for most of the night, limiting the Buckeyes' offense to just 17 points (plus a pick-six).

"It starts with the running game", linebacker Cameron Smith said.

That enabled the Buckeyes to get by with Barrett and the offense being just OK, if that. If USC comes out fired up, their offense could lead them to victory. The Alabama Crimson Tide were picked ahead of the Buckeye to be the fourth-place team. The USC offensive line was dominated in every conceivable manner by the Buckeyes' front four, and in many cases front three. They lost 24-7 to an Ohio State team that beats top-10 teams at a volume matched by none other in the country.

Across the entire day, ESPN's three college football bowl telecasts were the three highest-rated bowl games across the sport's four-game slate.

Don't be surprised if Mike Weber declares for the NFL.

Unlike the USC Trojans, the Buckeyes will have the services of one of the better defenses in the nation. Considering the Big 12 is in the playoff, they can be thrown in the group as well. North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb sat out his team's victory over Arizona State in the Sun Bowl. The number one tailback is All-American Ronald Jones II. People forget he's had a 1,000-yard season. The trio did pretty well, reeling in 166 balls for just over 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"I'm not even close to where I could be", Nick Bosa said.