The Cotton Bowl pitting the two conference champions who didn’t make the College Football Playoff was on just about everybody’s bucket list when the matchup between No. 5 Ohio State and No. 8 USC was announced earlier this month. Now it will be lucky to be on anybody’s TV.
The Buckeyes came, saw and conquered the Pac-12 champions in impressive fashion at AT&T Stadium, leading the Trojans 24-7 at halftime and looking borderline unstoppable in making the case that they and not No. 4 Alabama should have been in the Playoff.
OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett was naturally leading the way as he closes out his college career in scarlet and gray by throwing for 75 yards but rushing for another 54 on the ground — including a pair of rushing touchdowns. The team scored so quickly that tailbacks Mike Weber (11 yards) and J.K. Dobbins (22 yards) barely had time to get going as they mostly sat on the sidelines with a big lead.
Turnovers led to the majority of those points as half of USC’s first six possessions ended in the ball going the other way. Signal-caller Sam Darnold, playing in front of numerous NFL executives in what could be his final game in cardinal and gold, looked good early on and had 170 yards going into the locker room but fumbled once and threw a bad pick-six to Damon Webb. His receivers didn’t help him all that much with drops and the scoreboard indicates that Texas native and starting running back Ronald Jones (34 yards, one touchdown) won’t be that big of a factor after the break.
We’ve seen some crazy comebacks and wild second half performances already during bowl season already but that probably won’t be the case unless Darnold magically turns into the guy everybody touted as the sure-fire No. 1 overall pick. The Buckeyes do get the ball to start the third quarter and you can bet that Urban Meyer won’t rest easy even with a comfortable margin so far in what appears to be a rout in the making.