Ohio State #5 vs USC #8
With the Rose Bowl serving as one of the dedicated semi-final playoff bowls this years matchup of Big Ten and Pac-12 winners will take place in Arlington at AT&T stadium. The Trojans and Buckeyes are two historic programs that rarely play each other and they should put on a show this year. Each team has multiple future NFL stars on their rosters, including the potential first overall pick in the draft.
Top 8 Draft Prospects
1: Sam Darnold, QB USC
2: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
3: Ronald Jones, RB, USC
4: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
5: Billy Price, OG, Ohio State
6: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State
7: Porter Gustin, OLB, USC
8: Cameron Smith, LB, USC
When USC Has The Ball: Darnold is considered a high ceiling prospect, akin to a 5 tool player in baseball. He has the natural size and ability to do succeed in any pro style system. What he does not have is experience and many scouts worry that it will be difficult for him to develop further if he is starting next year as an NFL rookie. Darnold will need to have one of his best games in terms of avoiding mistakes, while still making plays, in order to help USC maintain balance. Ronald Jones is another Trojan that fits well into most any NFl system. Jones has elite pass catching ability and should be able to move the chains in some way to help open up the intermediate and deep passing game for Darnold. Sam Hubbard and Dre’Mont Jones will look to control the line of scrimmage and make life difficult for Darnold and Jones while Denzel Ward will need to play shut down ball to stop the Trojans.
When Ohio State Has The Ball: There is a lot of experience on the Buckeyes offense but not a lot of premium NFL talent this season. JT Barrett will lead the team while Porter Gustin will provide the disruptive presence along the edge. If Gustin can rush Barrett, then Ohio State will have a hard time moving the Ball. Cameron Smith will be looking to clean up the inside running game, although Billy Price will lead the way for the OSU attack.
Prediction: Both of these teams are flawed, and neither really deserved to be a playoff team, but of the two teams Ohio State is the better one. OSU 38 - USC 30