Cotton Bowl 2017: Ohio State vs USC College Football Odds, Picks
Both squads began the season with national championship aspirations and ended up a bit short with two losses. Ohio State finished the season making a strong case for the playoffs by beating unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game, but wound up fifth in the final poll behind one-loss Alabama. USC finished its season beating Stanford in the Pac 10 Championship Game.
There's always talk of how much motivation non-playoff teams will bring to a bowl game, but this matchup has a big-time feel. For starters, the Cotton Bowl is a pretty historic venue in its own right and players on both sides will probably be reminded by their respective coaching staffs of the cultural relevance of a USC/Ohio State game.
Betting Considerations (Ohio State -7/OU: 64.5)
A glance at the 2017 record of both teams may not reveal much difference. Both lost two and both were blown out once this season - Ohio State by Iowa and USC by Notre Dame.
Digging deeper, Ohio State played the better schedule which was ranked the nation's second best by teamrankings.com while USC ranked 22nd in the same category.
Ohio State beat three ranked teams during the year, two of which were in the top 10 at the time the game was played. USC beat Stanford twice, but lost to the only two other ranked teams it played in Notre Dame and Washington State.
Both of these teams are capable of putting points on the board, but the true difference in this matchup is on the defensive side of the ball, where Ohio State fields the nation's eighth best total defense and USC ranks 76th. That has to worry Trojan supporters as their subpar unit takes the field against Ohio State's potent attack (sixth in total offense).
The eyeball test says that Ohio State wins this game in the trenches and with superior depth. I am simply not sold on USC while Ohio State has answered the bell in most big games this year. The total in this game tells us that Vegas expects a high-scoring affair, but I see Ohio State getting plenty of stops. USC has not fared well against the best teams on its schedule. Let's jump on this line well before it gets a chance to move off that key number.TAKE Ohio State -7 Bovada
- These two perennial powers are flagship members of the Big 10 and Pac 10 conferences with 19 national championships betweeen them (USC 11 and Ohio State 8).
- With the Rose Bowl providing the setting for the annual postseason game between the Big 10/Pac 10 champions, 2018 will mark the first time these programs will have met in the postseason outside of Pasadena.
- USC and Ohio State last met in 2009 and the Trojans have won the last 7 meetings dating back to 1975.
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