Cotton Bowl Preview: USC Trojans vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

2018 cotton bowl preview

One of the most historic bowl games in college football history is the Cotton Bowl. It will be the 8th ranked USC Trojans versus the 5th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. It is the first time both of these have ever played in the Cotton Bowl. The USC Trojans have had a great season led by their star quarterback Sam Darnold. But Darnold isn’t the only star QB in this game. The Ohio State Buckeyes will trot out on the field led by their senior QB J.T. Barrett. This is a huge game for the Buckeyes as they were left out of the College Football Playoffs even after winning the Big 12 Conference Championship. Here is the 82nd Cotton Bowl Preview.

No. 8 USC Trojans

The 8th ranked USC Trojans came into the 2017 season with a ton of hype. They had the star quarterback who was the favorite to win the Heisman and projected to go #1 in the 2018 NFL Draft. Most experts expected the Trojans to make the College Football Playoffs but the season didn’t pan out like the Trojans expected. This game could help this team move forward after falling short of expectations. This could be Sam Darnold’s last game as a Trojans as he is projected to go early in the first round of the NFL Draft. Darnold will have a lot of weapons to throw to as he as one of the top wide receiver groups in the country. Junior WR Deontay Burnett will draw the most attraction, and he is the Trojans’ top playmaker. Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns could also have big games.

On defense, the Trojans must find ways to stop the running game. J.T. Barrett is a really solid dual-threat QB who could hurt the Trojans with his arm and legs. The Buckeyes also have a really good freshman running back in J.K. Dobbins. The Trojans will try to make the Buckeyes’ offense one-dimensional. “It starts with the running game,” linebacker Cameron Smith said of slowing down the Buckeyes. “That’s kind of our key every single time we walk out on the field, is we’ve got to limit that running game and make them one-dimensional.” The Trojans will have a tough challenged ahead with a Buckeyes offense led by Urban Meyer.

No. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes have had a sour taste in their mouth since Ohio State wasn’t picked to make the College Football Playoffs. The Alabama Crimson Tide were picked ahead of the Buckeye to be the fourth-place team. The Buckeyes would like to send a message that leaving them off the CFP was a huge mistake by beating the Trojans. Ohio State will need to able to run the ball in order to win. Freshman RB J.K. Dobbins is one of the future running backs stars in the making. He has had a terrific season with 1,364 yards, 181 carries, and seven rushing touchdowns. Backup RB Mike Weber has also played well as he has 608 rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns. Barrett will also need to use his legs to get outside the pocket to beat the Trojans with his legs and arm.

On the defense, the Buckeyes will need to find a way to put pressure on Sam Darnold. If the Buckeyes are able to apply some pressure, it will throw his timing off with his receiver and force turnover which has been Darnold’s issue this season. Nick Bosa is their star defensive lineman and will hopefully follow in his brother’s footsteps. The Buckeyes defense will also have to watch out for Trojans’ star RB Ronald Jones II. The junior RB has had a sensational season as he has 242 carries for 1,486 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Trojans offense is a well-run offense that extremely tough to defense unless you make Darnold uncomfortable.

5 Players to Watch: USC Trojans

  1. QB Sam Darnold
  2. RB Ronald Jones II
  3. LB Cameron Smith
  4. WR Deontay Burnett
  5. CB Jack Jones

5 Players to Watch: Ohio State Buckeyes

  1. RB J.K. Dobbins
  2. DE Nick Bosa
  3. QB J.T. Barrett
  4. S Damon Webb
  5. RB Chris Weber

5 Predictions:

  1. Sam Darnold throws for over 300 yards and at least three touchdowns.
  2. Nick Bosa has 1-2 sacks.
  3. Ronald Jones III rushes for over 100 yards.
  4. J.K. Dobbins and Chris Weber combine for three touchdowns.
  5. Ohio State Buckeyes beats USC Trojans 38-34.

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