Darnold Vs. Barrett

Intriguing Game- The Cotton Bowl

(8) USC Trojans at (5) Ohio State Buckeyes

USC: They entered the 2017 season as a title contender, Darnold was supposed to be a lock for the Heisman and the USC Trojans were also a favorite to win their division. So, let’s look at how things panned out for them. They won their division and the Pac-12 championship earlier this month, Darnold didn’t get the invite to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation and they didn’t make it to the playoffs, but they still got to a bowl game, so overall, it’s been a good season for them and I know it’s not what they expected of themselves but still a successful one none the less. After the season that Darnold had in 2016, this was his first full year as a starter and he didn’t look as sharp as he did and that’s because defenses had a full off-season to truly study what he does and prepare for him. He’s been projected to be a top-five pick in many early mock drafts, but I don’t think he’s ready to make that next transition to the NFL because he struggles to take care of the ball at times and he makes a few careless throws here and there. You can’t always try to throw the ball into tight spaces and in double or triple coverage thinking that your guy will always come away with the football. They’ll try to end their season on a high note as they face another legendary football institution in Ohio State on Friday night.

Ohio State: They won the Big Ten East, they get to the conference title game in Indianapolis and defeat a previously unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers team to win the Big Ten championship. So, that should be enough to get you into the playoffs, right? Not necessarily and I will try my best to explain why they didn’t make it. No team in the early history of the College Football Playoff system has been a playoff team with two losses and their 31 point loss to an unranked Iowa Hawkeyes team back in November really put a blemish on their resume and I agreed with the committee, they got it right. The Ohio State Buckeyes were the first of two teams out of the bracket and here they are ranked fifth in the country. There were times this year when I couldn’t really figure out who they were and that loss against Oklahoma early on in the season, they went on a winning streak, a quiet one at that and their biggest win came against a then second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions and came back after being down by 18 to beat them in a game that I called the “early edition” of the Big Ten Title Game. A player that has really grabbed my attention has been the star running back, J.K. Dobbins who really stepped it up when Mike Weber was battling injuries. He’s a perfect asset for this Buckeyes offense. He’s a strong runner, a reliable receiver that you can check the football too when the receivers are locked up down the field and he blocks. After a star-studded defense in 2016, they were younger and Urban Meyer always has a defense that gets off to a slow start but finds a way to improve as the season goes on. They may not be where they feel they deserve, but they’re still in a pretty big bowl game and they’ll face USC on Friday night.

USC Player To Watch: Rasheem Green– The Trojans have had a nice defensive front all year long and in this game, they will need Green to get into the backfield before Dobbins can get out the back. It’ll take a strong push on a pretty good offensive line of the Buckeyes. Stopping Barrett will also be a big-time priority.

Ohio State Player To Watch: Denzel Ward: He’s improved so much as the season has gone on. He keeps his composure, he doesn’t overdo anything and he knows teams will throw in his direction, but he still tries to make a play. He’ll see a lot of Deontay Burnett and maybe some Michael Pittman as well.

Final Analysis: This isn’t where they wanted to be, but it’s still a major bowl game in a big market. This will be the toughest matchup for the Trojans all year long and this Ohio State offense can stretch the field. Ohio State’s explosive offense can attack USC in a variety of ways. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast may have to sell out on the run, leaving a Trojans secondary that was already prone to big plays in 2017 further vulnerable.

Prediction: Ohio State 38 USC 21