#5 Ohio State vs. #8 USC
Friday, December 29th, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET
AT&T Stadium (71,998), Arlington, Texas
Bob Wischusen (Play-By-Play)
Brock Huard (Analyst)
Allison Williams (Sideline)
RADIO: WBNS (97.1 The Fan). The Urban Meyer pregame show airs 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Paul Keels will call the action with former Buckeye Jim Lachey and Matt Andrews on the sidelines.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Two of college football’s traditional powers clash in the 82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Ohio State, champion of the Big Ten Conference, faces Pac-12 champion USC with ESPN to televise.
No. 5 Ohio State won its 36th Big Ten title the last time out with a 27-21 victory over then-No. 4 and undefeated Wisconsin at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Championship game MVP J.K. Dobbins rushed for 174 yards while the Buckeye defense limited a normally explosive Badger rush offense to just 60 yards on the ground. Safety Damon Webb made the game-clinching interception on a fourth down play with under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter
This year’s Cotton Bowl matchup features two of the nation’s top offenses: Ohio State ranks No. 6 nationally averaging 523.6 yards/game while USC in No. 15 at 489.5 yards/game. The Buckeyes and Trojans also feature Top 25-ranked scoring offenses: Ohio State is No. 5 (42.5 points/game) while USC in No. 24 (34.5 points/game).
On defense, the Buckeyes are among the top 10 teams nationally in both total defense (No. 8, 292.3 yards/game) and against the rush (No. 7, 108.8 yards/game). Led by the duo of Nick Bosa (14.5 TFL) and Sam Hubbard (10.0 TFL), Ohio State is No. 6 in the nation with 100 tackles for loss and has held nine of its 13 opponents to less than 300 yards of total off ense.
Setting the Stage: Buckeyes vs. Trojans
- USC has won seven consecutive games over Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ last win over USC came in the 1974 Rose Bowl, a 42-21 victory highlighted by Archie Griffin’s 149 yards rushing. Ohio State also defeated USC in the 1969 Rose Bowl to win its sixth national championship.
- Quarterback J.T. Barrett will be playing the final game of his Ohio State career approximately two hours (140 miles) from his hometown of Wichita Falls, Texas.
- Head coach Urban Meyer is 14-5 in his career in games played in December or January.
- The Buckeyes’ defense has held six of their last eight opponents to less than 100 yards rushing
- Ohio State is the only team nationally to rank in the top 10 in both total offense and total defense.
- The Buckeyes’ offense is also the only unit in the country to both pass and rush for over 3,000 yards this season
- Head coach Urban Meyer is 47-4 in his career with more than one week to prepare for an opponent.
- RB J.K. Dobbins became the first true freshman in conference history to be named the Big Ten Championship Game Most Valuable Player.
- Ohio State has won 11 or more games in six consecutive seasons.
Champions of the Pac-12 and winners of five straight since a midseason loss to Notre Dame, USC is 11-2 overall and finished 8-1 in the Pac-12.
Led by quarterback Sam Darnold, who is No. 7 nationally with 3,787 yards passing, the USC offense averages 34.5 points and 489.5 yards per game. On the ground, Ronald Jones is No. 8 nationally with 1,486 yards and scored 18 touchdowns, fifth best in the country. Darnold’s top receiving target is Deontay Burnett, who caught 74 passes for 975 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Linebacker Cameron Smith is a three-year starter and leader on the USC defense that registered a 102 tackles, 10.0 TFL and three pass breakups this year. Lineman Rasheem Green had nine sacks among his team-leading 11.5 TFL while senior linebacker Uchenna Nwosu had a full line of stats including 71 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 13 pass breakups and eight QB hurries.