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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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – DECEMBER 02: Quarterback J.T. Barrett

5. The Buckeyes’ offense is underrated.

If there was one single element that was most surprising this season then it would be the efficiency of the Buckeyes’ offense. It was surprising considering the weapons or lack thereof the Bucks had to offer to begin the season. However, it was also predictable in a sense that this offense would bounce back one way or another.

The hardships of last season were summed up with one term: one-dimensional. The Buckeyes featured an offense that was very limited with their star of the show, H-back Curtis Samuel, making up almost a quarter of the offense’s total all-purpose yards.

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What’s even more notable is out of the top ten all-purpose yard leaders only four were not a running back, H-back, or Barrett. Those four included tight end Marcus Baugh, safety Malik Hooker, and receivers K.J. Hill and Noah Brown. A good indicator of those struggles can be summed up by the fact that a safety had more all-purpose yards than most of the team’s wide receivers.

That one-dimensional offense led to the Buckeyes’ eventual demise in their playoff game against Clemson. The defense of the Tigers was easily the strongest and most complete unit the Bucks had seen all season and came well prepared. The Tigers held the Buckeyes’ power trio of Samuel, Barrett, and Mike Weber to just 88 combined rushing yards. That total is also far overstated in itself as 64 of those yards came from one play.

Things were set to change this season as the Buckeyes were way too talented at the receiver position to let it go to waste twice. The addition of former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator and former NFL quarterback coach Ryan Day didn’t hurt either. Urban Meyer clearly had big plans for Barrett and the passing game this season.

Barrett enjoyed a season that was one of his most productive this time around. He was surrounded with fresh contributors at receiver and a coaching staff catered to him. He threw for more yards and touchdowns than he had in any of his last three seasons.

The key advantage the Buckeyes will have entering this game is the belief that they are still one-dimensional. People will be stuck with the same image of the Bucks’ inept offense displayed in their last bowl game. This belief will be multiplied with college football’s darling quarterback Sam Darnold on the other side. Everyone will be quick to choose Darnold and the Trojans’ offense over the Buckeyes which is exactly what the Bucks want.

In reality, the Buckeyes are better than the Trojans in many facets of the game. The Bucks have a better total offense than the Trojans and have thrown for more touchdowns. This is especially worth noting considering the Pac-12 is not known for their defensive prowess nearly as much as the Big Ten.

The Trojans may have a good leader in Sam Darnold but their offense is overrated. They aren’t even the best offense in their own conference and haven’t shown up against better opponents. On the other side, the Buckeyes have been underrated on offense and have continued to flash. Expect the Bucks to bring the thunder and the lightning against the Trojans on Friday.