The Ohio State Buckeyes are 7½-point favorites at offshore sportsbooks to win the 2017 Cotton Bowl Classic against the USC Trojans on Friday on December 29th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Such an advantage might be due to the fact that OSU’s elite, unlike most projected first-round NFL draft picks, doesn’t seem intent on skipping their bowl game, as it has become the norm recently.
“That would be wild,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “Especially with the people that we have in our locker room. Like, I mean, I don’t know what the people have done in these past couple of years. I don’t know them personally. But I guess the brotherhood and the bond that we have in the Ohio State locker room, I would be very shocked.”
“You ever see Coach [Urban] Meyer do that taken aback [look]? It would be one of those, like, smack me across the face. If somebody was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to play in the bowl game, Cotton Bowl against USC,’ I think that would be wild.” In other words, it’d be the classic “I’m not mad at you; I’m just disappointed.”
Additionally, the Buckeyes may enter the Cotton Bowl with the proverbial chip on their shoulder after being left out of the College Football Playoff, which Barrett thought was shocking. “I was a little bit sho … I mean, not a little bit, but I was shocked thinking that, you know, we were going to be in there,” the senior QB said. “But that's about it.”
Shocking is, all things considered, a fitting word, considering that it was a shocking 55-24 loss as 20.5 faves in early November that pretty much cost OSU their CFP aspirations.
Ohio State has held opponents to just 14.5 points and 223.3 yards in four straight wins since that loss, including a 27-21 win over Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship on Saturday.
“It's really hard to win a conference title, I think in any conference,” Barrett said. “If that's not being considered as much as the other conferences, that's not for me to talk about, but it's really hard to win a conference championship.”
It seems it was time for Alabama to make the CFP after missing the league championship, like OSU did last year.
As for the Trojans, they are also coming off from a successful Pac 12 championship bid, their first in nine seasons, defeating Stanford 31-28 on Friday, which is, as far as consolation prizes go, pretty nifty. “From the outside you can say it was an underachieving season, but this [Pac-12 title] is our primary goal,” Trojans athletic director Lynn Swann said.
We all know what quarterback Sam Darnold is capable of, but it’s Ronald Jones II who is arguably Southern California’s chief offensive weapon. RJII, who, like Darnold, made the 2017 All-Pac-12 First Team, has 814 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in the last five games, but will have his running cut out for him against the Buckeyes defense, which has held opponents to just 3.0 yards per carry this season.