Cotton Bowl Classic: Buckeyes Have Something to Prove

Swinging Johnson

Monday, December 18, 2017 8:08 PM UTC

Monday, Dec. 18, 2017 8:08 PM UTC

The Ohio State Buckeyes and USC Trojans will meet in the 2017 Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas. Let's review the college football odds and determine which side is going to get us an ATS cover!

USC (11-2 SU, 4-9 ATS) vs. Ohio State (11-2 SU, 6-7 ATS)

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Free College Football Pick: Ohio State -7Best Line Offered: Bovada
  • Ohio State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven neutral-site games.
  • Ohio State is 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. Pac-12 teams.
  • Ohio State is 4-1 ATS in its last five Friday games.
  • USC is 0-6 ATS in its last six neutral-site games.
  • USC is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games following an ATS loss.
  • USC is 1-5 ATS in its last six games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0.

If there is one team in college football that should have a chip on its shoulder, Ohio State has earned that right. After getting jilted by the College Football Playoff committee for the fourth and final seed (Alabama was picked instead), the Buckeyes should be out for blood and ready to prove a point. But selecting your college football picks based solely on emotion is not a recipe for success. After all, Ohio State is out for a win but not necessarily a cover. And in this matchup the 11-2 Trojans are getting spotted 7-7 ½ points depending on where you shop for your college football odds.

But the fact remains that Ohio State has the chops to not only win this game but win it convincingly. In their last two contests they knocked off Michigan at the Big House, then vanquished Wisconsin for the Big Ten title. Had it not been for one of the biggest upsets of the season, when the Buckeyes inexplicably got destroyed by Iowa, they would have been vying for a national championship. But peculiar things happen and sometimes top teams overlook the lesser lights and pay the price. This will not be the case in this game as OSU knows they face a tough out in USC and will be ready to hit it hard from the opening whistle.

Both teams employ a dynamic aerial attack coupled with an imposing ground game. Ohio State has a two-headed monster at tailback featuring J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, as well as a mobile quarterback in J.T. Barrett, who has 10 rushing touchdowns and 35 passing TDs. Conversely, USC gives the bulk of its rushing load to Ronald Jones II, who has delivered throughout the season with 1,486 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. But the key here is the Ohio State defense getting the best of a Trojans offensive line that has lacked cohesion at times. The Buckeyes rank 22nd in the nation on defense, allowing just 19.9 points per game, and they'll prevent USC from routinely moving the chains, keeping QB Sam Darnold off the field.

Ohio State is too explosive for a middling USC defense that ranks 60th in points allowed. This one will get out of hand by the third quarter and OSU will come away with its pride intact and an ATS cover, but a national championship just out of reach.

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