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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1. The Buckeyes’ defense matches up well with the Trojans.

The Trojans’ offense isn’t necessarily the one trick pony that many may expect. Yes, Sam Darnold is a major figure in how they operate but there’s still more to it than just him alone. Their offense is also proficient at running the ball.

The run game has been key for the Trojans this season. The Trojans have quietly improved on the ground thanks to the play of running back Ronald Jones II. He has taken over the running back position on the team in his junior season and has done plenty with it.

Jones’ usage has increased as he’s garnered significantly more carries which has improved his production. His total touchdowns has increased from 13 to 19. Jones has certainly gotten the job done for the Trojans by taking some weight off Darnold’s shoulders.

This is great news for the Buckeyes’ defense as their strength is stopping the run. The Bucks’ elite run defense will make it difficult for the Trojans to create running lanes. Darnold will be forced to make more difficult decisions with the football with no running game to lean on.

In fact, Darnold and the Trojans as a whole have played remarkably worse when their run game is ineffective. Jones had under 50 rushing yards in the Trojans’ overtime struggle with Texas and blowout loss against Notre Dame. Darnold was largely unimpressive during both of those bouts as a result. The Buckeyes’ defense is better than both of those teams as they’re ranked seventh in the nation against the run.

With so much talk about the Buckeyes’ front seven, they have also been quietly good against the pass. The Bucks are now slotted at 15th in the nation in pass defense allowing just 183 yards per game. Standout defensive back Denzel Ward has been excellent for the Bucks this season. He is projected to be a top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and will also be a key factor in this game. The Buckeyes’ pass defense will surprise many as their play will be the center focus against Darnold in this match up.

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In order for the Trojans to win, Darnold and the run game need to be equally effective. If the Buckeyes can take away just one of the those then they have a great shot at walking away with a victory. This will be a simple choice considering the Bucks are great at slowing down the run. The Buckeyes’ front seven should be able to corral Ronald Jones. Expect the Buckeyes to be able to control the game defensively.