ARLINGTON, Texas – Thanks to stellar defensive play and an efficient performance from its senior quarterback, Ohio State ended the 2017 season with a victory.
The Buckeyes defeated USC in the Cotton Bowl, 24-7, on Friday night behind a trio of first half turnovers and two touchdowns from J.T. Barrett, who finished his collegiate career with a school record 46 touchdowns in his senior campaign.
Ohio State's defense also collected eight sacks in the victory, including five in the second half.
On the third play of the game, Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold completed a pass over the middle to wide receiver Deonta Burnett for what appeared to be a first down. Burnett however, fumbled and Ohio State senior safety Damon Webb returned the loose ball inside the USC 20-yard line.
|No. 5 OHIO STATE||7||17||0||0||24|
|No. 8 USC||0||7||0||0||7|
Five plays later, Ohio State opened the scoring as Barrett plunged in from a yard out to give the Buckeyes an early 7-0 advantage.
The two teams would remain scoreless until the first play of the second quarter, when Sean Nuernberger capped a 13-play, 83 yard drive with a 26-yard field goal. On the ensuing USC drive, Webb stepped in front of a pass from Darnold and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown to give Ohio State a 17-0 lead just 18 seconds into the second quarter.
After trading punts, USC responded with a promising drive into Ohio State territory, as Darnold completed three of four passes and rushed for a 14-yard gain, marching to the Buckeye 23-yard line. On 3rd-and-5, Darnold was sacked by Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis, who forced a fumble of Darnold in the process, which was scooped up by linebacker Jerome Baker and returned to the OSU 41-yard line.
|277||NET TOTAL YARDS||413|
|4.3||AVERAGE PER RUSH||1.6|
|10.4||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||13.7|
|6||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||5|
|5||PASSING 1st DOWNS||16|
|2||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||2|
|5.0||YARDS PER PLAY||5.1|
A short completion to Mike Weber from Barrett resulted in a gain of 16 yards on the first play of the ensuing Ohio State drive, and another 15 yards were tacked on following a face-mask penalty. Barrett followed that up with a 28-yard touchdown scamper on a zone-read play, giving the Buckeyes a 24-0 advantage.
The Ohio State defense then forced a three-and-out, however K.J. Hill muffed the USC punt, which the Trojans recovered. From there, USC running back Ronald Jones II scored the Trojans' first points, getting into the end zone untouched off left tackle and closing the first half scoring with just 1:59 before half.
After both teams traded multiple punts in the third resulting in no points, USC once against marched into Ohio State territory early in the fourth. After coming up short on a 3rd-and-10 from the Buckeye 16-yard line, Trojan kicker Chase McGrath missed a 28-yard field goal off the right post with 13:03 to play in the game, maintaining Ohio State's 24-7 lead.
After a 20-yard completion to Marcus Baugh on the ensuing drive gave Ohio State momentum, Barrett and the Ohio State offense stalled once again and punted back to USC with 9:49 to play in the game.
Once again, Darnold marched USC into Ohio State territory with the aid of two pass interference calls against Buckeye corners. After reaching the OSU 12-yard line however, Darnold lost his third turnover of the game, as Jalyn Holmes forced a fumble which was recovered by Robert Landers with 8:04 to play.
After another Ohio State punt, USC once against worked its way into Buckeye territory, only to sputter once again, as the OSU defensive line forced Darnold to throw incomplete on the final two pass attempts of the game.
- Damon Webb's pick-six was the first in the Cotton Bowl since the 2009 edition of the bowl game.
- Ohio State earned its first win over USC since the 1974 Rose Bowl.
- The Buckeyes improve to 60-26-2 all-time against Pac-12 opponents and 10-7 against current members of the Pac-12 conference.
- Barrett was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game (Sanford Trophy), while Webb earned Outstanding Defensive Player of the Game honors (McKnight Trophy).
- The Big Ten moved to 4-1 in Cotton Bowl history with the win, two of the wins coming from Ohio State (1987, 2017).
- The win gave Urban Meyer 11 career bowl victories, tying him with Nick Saban and Kyle Whittingham for most bowl wins by active FBS coaches.