USC: Darnold, who became the first Trojans quarterback ever with more than 4,000 yards passing in a season, has until January 15 to decide if he will head to the National Football League or return to USC for another season. The Buckeyes ended a seven-game losing streak to the Trojans dating back to 1975, including a span in which Ohio State lost three consecutive Rose Bowls to USC (1975, 1980, 1985).
Spread: The biggest question entering this game is how the Buckeyes will play after being left on the outside looking in at the playoff.
The 8 ranked USC Trojans came into the 2017 season with a ton of hype. Ward, a native of Nordonia, is projected to be a first-round pick and one of the first players at his position selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the OSU defense laid an egg against the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma, but it has more often than not been able to make teams one-dimensional by nearly completely shutting down the likes of running backs Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin).
That's not a bad trade for those teams, but the sacrifice to get there would mean pushing the rest of bowl season closer to becoming football's version of the NIT.
Darnold delivered a signature performance in last season's Rose Bowl win, and he has since established a reputation for giving some of his best efforts in USC's biggest games.
Darnold committed three turnovers, including the pick-6. Vaughns finished with six catches for 119 yards, while Pittman Jr. finished with three catches for 69 yards. Sure, they would have been replaced for each program by quarterfinal games with higher stakes that included the potential for a championship. When you become that kind of person, you have to really be cautious of who you're around and who you're with.
With a shutout likely heading into halftime, K.J. Hill fumbled a punt with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Trojans do have some injuries along the offensive line though and that's not good when facing a pass rush like the Buckeyes have. Gallaspy's first touchdown run, a 23-yarder, made it 38-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Despite prior accomplishments, a loss would leave them with a sour taste and some feeling of disappointment. The Trojans will have a tough challenged ahead with a Buckeyes offense led by Urban Meyer.
As All-American junior defensive back Denzel Ward sat out the came in a controversial decision to protect his National Football League draft stock, it was teammate Damon Webb returning a Darnold pass for a touchdown - after he had earlier recovered a fumble to set up an early Buckeye TD. No scoring occurred in the second half as Ohio State won 24-7 and proved why they were deserving of a playoff ranking.
J.K Dobbins, a true freshman, ran for 1364 yards along with 7 scores on only 181 carries. He has 17 TDs and four interceptions in the last eight games.
A 16-yard pass from Barrett to Mike Weber, with a 15-yard face mask penalty added on, plus a 28-yard touchdown run by Barrett made it 24-0. Barrett will also need to use his legs to get outside the pocket to beat the Trojans with his legs and arm.
The Buckeyes' defense showed up early causing two fumbles and a pick-six interception by Damon Webb. If the Buckeyes are able to apply some pressure, it will throw his timing off with his receiver and force turnover which has been Darnold's issue this season.
Darnold completed 63.7% of his passes for 3,787 yards and 26 touchdown passes this season. Neither did Ronald Jones.