The Ohio State University and University of Southern California will clash at AT&T Stadium this Friday night in the Cotton Bowl. The kickoff is scheduled for shortly after 8:30 PM ET. Here are five things you should know before the game begins:
These Two Teams Share Similar Narratives
The Ohio State Buckeyes and USC Trojans may be separated by over 1,000 miles and play in different conferences, but when you look at the narrative of each team this season you’ll come to realize they’re not all that different.
The Buckeyes and Trojans both started the season ranked in the top four of preseason polls with many experts projecting the respective clubs to make an appearance in the 2018 College Football Playoff.
Each team went on to win their conference championship, but neither were able to finish in the top four due to both squads having two losses on their resume.
While Ohio State ended up higher in the polls, both teams will look to end their season on a high note and make a statement to the College Football Playoff Committee that conference championships shouldn’t be underestimated (as non-conference champion Alabama made it into the playoff ahead of both Ohio State and USC).
The Trojans Pass Rush Could Be A Difference Maker
When people think of the Pac-12 Conference, defense isn’t something that comes to mind right away.
That being said—nobody should overlook the pass rush of the Trojans and the impact it can have on this football game.
USC is tied for second in the country with 43 sacks this season. Defensive linemen Rasheem Green, Christian Rector and Uchenna Nwosu rank among the top-three players in their conference in the sacks department, all with at least 7.5 sacks on the season.
Both Offenses Have Big-Play Capabilities
There will be no shortage of talent on either side of the ball when these two teams meet Friday—making explosive plays for both teams an inevitability when they go head-to-head.
The Buckeyes and Trojans both are top-ten teams in the country when it comes to plays from scrimmage of 20+ yards, with Ohio State having 81-such plays and USC having 87.
USC and Ohio State each have the ability to make game-changing plays both on the ground and through the air, making it hard to imagine a low-scoring affair on Friday night.
Red-Zone Offense Could Be The Deciding Factor
The level of difficulty is raised to another level when it comes to playcalling once an offense enters the red zone.
While big plays may be abundant in this game, what happens in the red zone could very well be the difference between the victor and the team who goes into the new year with a loss.
J.T. Barrett And Sam Darnold Look To Make A Lasting Impression On The Big Stage
J.T. Barrett holds numerous Ohio State passing records. On the other side, Sam Darnold could be entering the NFL Draft as one of the top quarterback prospects.
There’s no doubt each QB will do whatever it takes on Friday night to get the win…