Cotton Bowl Prediction: Ohio State vs. USC

Last Updated: 2017-12-29

cotton bowl free pickThey saved the best for last on Friday, as Ohio State and Southern Cal square off in the Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes have been getting some large bets Friday morning and the Buckeyes are now favored by 9.5, with a few 10s popping up here and there, while the total has gone up slightly to 64.5.

The Buckeyes are the better team, but much like a college basketball bubble team that gets left out of the tournament, their mental state is a bit of a question. If they come out to show they belonged in the playoff, which I’d be inclined to think they will, they can do a bit of damage to USC. It’s difficult to imagine an Urban Meyer team coming out not ready to play this one, but there’s still a possibility.

The Trojans have perhaps the best passing attack the Buckeyes have seen since Oklahoma and Ohio State fans know what happened in that one. The question is going to be if the Trojans are able to give Darnold enough time for his receivers to get open. Expect some quick-hitters, as the Trjoans will likely throw away from Bosa and try to keep their quarterback from taking too many hits. The Trojans stats are a bit misleading, as they were the recipients of a 49-14 butt-kicking at the hands of Notre Dame when they suffered from a few injury problems.

For the season, the Trojans averaged 6.2 more points per game than their foes allowed, while limiting the opposition to 4.8 fewer points. USC can run the ball decently, averaging 5.0 yards per rush against teams who allowed an average of 4.6 yards per rush.

On defense, the Trojans were a little better against the rush than average and were able to keep their opponents’ passing percentage down a fair amount. But they haven’t seen an offense quite like Ohio States.

The Buckeyes averaged 42.5 points a game against teams who allowed just 25 points a game and were also 8.4 points better defensively. The Buckeyes were tough against the run, holding the opposition to just 3.0 yards per carry and fared pretty well against the pass, but likewise, Ohio State didn’t see many quarterbacks as good as Darnold.

The Buckeyes are looking like a bit of a wise guy play and it’s easy to see why people like them in this spot, but Southern Cal also has the potential to get the backdoor cover, as the Trojans’ 8.6 yards per attempt was 1.4 higher than their opponents averaged.

Expecting an entertaining game and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Ohio State come pretty close to their average, so will have to tab this one to go over the total, as well.

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