Ohio State football: 5 reasons the Buckeyes will beat USC

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Quarterback J.T. Barrett
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Quarterback J.T. Barrett /
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COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 03: Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes cheer in the stands during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers on November 3, 2007 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH – NOVEMBER 03: Fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes cheer in the stands during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers on November 3, 2007 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 38-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Ohio State Buckeyes will face the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl for a Power 5 conference showdown.

Another season brings another high profile post season match up for the Buckeyes. The unfortunate truth is it won’t be at playoff level this time. The Buckeyes found themselves in yet another playoff debacle at the conclusion of this season.

Their win over the undefeated fourth ranked Wisconsin Badgers to claim the Big Ten title wasn’t enough to persuade the playoff committee. Instead, the committee went with the Alabama Crimson Tide as the beneficiary of a toss-up choice for the final spot.

There were many signs that pointed toward the Bucks deserving that fourth spot specifically considering resume where Alabama was especially suspect. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Buckeyes had better wins than the Crimson Tide. The Bucks won their conference championship while the Crimson Tide didn’t even earn the right to play in theirs.

One thing that everyone needs to get straight is the Crimson Tide’s argument for a playoff spot this season is very different from the Buckeyes’ of last season. The Buckeyes played a very good schedule last season including wins like the blowout at Oklahoma (in prime-time), a win at Wisconsin (in prime-time), and a win over tenth ranked TTUN to end the season.

The Buckeyes’ win over TTUN to end the season was not only significant because of their high rank but also because TTUN smashed Penn State earlier in the season. With that in mind, the Buckeyes’ win was basically a de facto conference championship game considering the Bucks had beaten Penn State’s Big Ten Championship opponent Wisconsin earlier in the season. All of this made way for the Bucks to claim a playoff spot over Penn State even though they lost the head-to-head and didn’t have a conference championship.

The Crimson Tide’s case was much less powerful or direct than that of the 2016 Buckeyes’. The Crimson Tide’s typical weak schedule looked even worse this season as the SEC struggled badly as a whole. Those who disagree with that statement will point proudly at Georgia and Auburn.

The ranks preceding those two teams would make their argument valid but further investigation would prove otherwise. Georgia’s big win was over Notre Dame in week two to assist their ascent to the top but the Irish fell on their face in the end against better opponents. All that Georgia had to do was glide through the rest of the SEC after that win to become a highly praised contender. Their one loss would come at Auburn where they got destroyed. Georgia would face them again in the SEC Championship game which was in Atlanta so losing twice to Auburn was actually more difficult than it was likely.

Auburn’s ascent to the top was even more baffling considering they had already taken two losses before getting their signature win against Georgia which was at home. They would then go on to beat an already suspect Alabama team by double digits at home. This was apparently more than enough to put them near the top of the playoff projection according to the committee. Basically, Auburn had a ‘quality loss’ against Clemson and two wins over what was a questionable cream of the crop in the SEC.

Now for the grand finale, the Crimson Tide did not beat Georgia nor did they beat Auburn. Not only that but the Tide also scheduled Mercer (an FCS team) as one of their final games to end their season. What makes things worse is the Crimson Tide lost to Auburn by double digits in their final game. Isn’t the point of having the playoff to make sure the four best teams get in?

How can a team who lost their final game by double digits be considered one of nation’s four best contenders while they leave out the Buckeyes who won their final four games including two who were top 15 opponents? The Buckeyes at least showed promise in their 2016 playoff bid without a conference championship by ending on a five game win streak.

With all of that being said, the truth is the Bucks still did not have enough to make the playoff even with Alabama’s unimpressive resume. The Buckeyes lost by double digits at home (albeit to a playoff team) and lost by over thirty points to an unranked team in the final month of the regular season.

To cap it off, the Buckeyes weren’t particularly impressive in either of their final two games when they needed to be. They are also committed to playing with an injured quarterback. The committee likes to claim they only look at the current season but how can they forget J.T. Barrett‘s disastrous performance in the playoff last season especially considering he is half injured and hasn’t looked much different up to right now?

This match up with USC may not have a hand in the playoff picture but it is particularly relevant to the playoff fiasco of last season. When Penn State was tossed from the playoff by the committee in favor of Ohio State last season, they were matched up with none other than USC in the Rose Bowl. The Nittany Lions would go on to lose to USC who was led by freshman quarterback Sam Darnold.

The Big Ten champs are back again to face off with the USC Trojans in a bowl game but this time it’s the Cotton Bowl and the team is Ohio State. Another key change is the Trojans are the Pac-12 champs this time around. Sam Darnold will be one of the only repeating variables in this Big Ten/Pac-12 rematch. The Buckeyes will look to affirm the Big Ten’s superiority over the Pac-12.