Cotton Bowl: Ohio State-Southern Cal matchups


By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com



Ohio State #14 wide reciever K.J. Hill celebrates with fans as he leaves the field at Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan November 25, 2017 Photos by Don Speck


More Cotton Bowl, Ohio State coverage

Cotton Bowl

Ohio State vs. USC

Friday, 8:30 p.m.

ESPN

QUARTERBACKS

J.T. Barrett (2.939 yards, 35 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) will end his four-year run as Ohio State’s quarterback in the Cotton Bowl. Eight of his interceptions have been in the last five games.

USC’s Sam Darnold (3,787 yards, 26 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions) could be the No. 1 overall selection if he enters the NFL draft.

Advantage: USC

RUNNING BACKS

Freshman J.K. Dobbins (1,364 yards rushing, 7 TDs) leads Ohio State’s running game but he can catch the ball, too. His 22 receptions are comparable to the 24 by tight end Marcus Baugh and more than receivers Johnnie Dixon and Austin Mack have.

USC traditionally has been known for having great depth at running back, but this season Ronald Jones (1,486 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns) has dominated the position. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 of USC’s 13 games.

Advantage: Ohio State

RECEIVERS

Ohio State’s receivers have been one of the most criticized groups on the team but OSU’s 39 touchdown catches were the most in the Big Ten by nine TDs and ranked third nationally behind Oklahoma’s 44 and Missouri’s 43.

Deontay Burns (74 catches, 975 yards, 9 touchdowns) leads USC’s receivers. Shawn Mitchell has 41 catches and four touchdowns. Michael Pittman had a huge game in the Pac-12 championship game with 7 catches for 146 yards.

Advantage: USC

OFFENSIVE LINE

OSU center Billy Price became an All-American at his second position and left tackle Jamarco Jones also played at a high level, as expected. If Ohio State gave a Most Improved Offensive Lineman award, right tackle Isaiah Prince would be a runaway winner.

USC was second in the Pac-12 in total offense (489.5) and averaged 34.5 points a game. Left tackle Toa Lobendahn was second team All-Pac 12 and left guard Chris Brown received honorable mention.

Advantage: Ohio State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Ohio State was fourth in the Big Ten with 37 sacks but beat the three teams who had more (Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan). Nick Bosa (7 sacks, 14 tackles for losses) matched his brother Joey by being named an All-American.

USC led the Pac-12 with 43 sacks. Defensive end Rasheem Green has nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses. The other end, Christian Recker, has 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses, and nose tackle Josh Fatu has 6 sacks.

Advantage: Ohio State

LINEBACKERS

OSU’s linebackers are another position group which has heard quite a bit of criticism this season, but holding Michigan to 100 yards rushing and Wisconsin to 60 yards on the ground shows progress has been made.

Cameron Smith leads USC with 102 tackles and has 10 tackles for losses. John Houston has 76 tackles.

Advantage: USC

DEFENSIVE BACKS

It would be a shock if this isn’t cornerback Denzel Ward’s final game at Ohio State. The junior is projected as a first-round NFL draft choice.

Only one Pac-12 team gave up more passing touchdowns than the 16 USC has allowed but only one Pac-12 team had more interceptions than the Trojans’ 16. Cornerback Jack Jones has four interceptions.

Advantage: Ohio State

SPECIAL TEAMS

OSU kicker Sean Nuernberger is 16 of 20 on field goals. Punter Drue Chrisman averages 44.0.

USC kicker Chase McGrath is 12 of 16 on field goals. Punter Reid Budrovich averages 42.5.

Advantage: Ohio State

http://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/12/web1_Ohio-State-logo-1.jpg
http://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/12/web1_USC-1.jpg
Ohio State #14 wide reciever K.J. Hill celebrates with fans as he leaves the field at Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan November 25, 2017 Photos by Don Speck
http://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2017/12/web1_Hill-1.jpg Ohio State #14 wide reciever K.J. Hill celebrates with fans as he leaves the field at Michigan Stadium on the campus of the University of Michigan November 25, 2017 Photos by Don Speck

By Jim Naveau

jnaveau@limanews.com

More Cotton Bowl, Ohio State coverage

Cotton Bowl

Ohio State vs. USC

Friday, 8:30 p.m.

ESPN

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