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Is USC Worth A Look As An Underdog In Cotton Bowl?

It has been a roller-coaster of a season for the USC Trojans. Preseason hype was high but a pair of road losses halted any hope of a national championship. However, USC has one more chance to prove the committee got it wrong when they take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl. The Trojans will enter that game as an underdog, not a good spot for bettors, as USC is 1-8 SU and ATS in its past nine as a dog.

Shark Bites
  • The total has gone OVER in 8 of Ohio State’s last 10 games.
  • USC is 0-6 ATS in its last 6 games against the Big Ten.
  • The total has gone OVER in 5 of USC’s last 7 games.

At this point of the season, we know exactly who USC is. They are a team that is simply going to go out there and try to outscore their opponent. And though most of the hype goes to quarterback Sam Darnold, the best offensive player for the Trojans is running back Ronald Jones. The junior has racked up 814 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in the past five games. That being said, Jones will be rushing against an Ohio State defense that has held opponents to just 3.0 yards per carry on the year.

Since surrendering 55 points to Iowa – the loss that likely cost them a spot in the playoffs – Ohio State has held opponents to just 14.5 points and 223.3 yards. However, the way to beat the Buckeyes defensively is to have an efficient quarterback, as Baker Mayfield and Nathan Stanley combined for 612 passing yards with eight TDs and no INTs in Ohio State’s losses. Offensively, Ohio State goes as far as J.T. Barrett takes them more often than not. The senior can get it done with his arm and his legs but his tendency to throw picks in bunches is a concern against an aggressive, ballhawking USC secondary.

Opening Odds & Computer Pick

The Ohio State Buckeyes were sitting as 6-point favorites earlier in the week at Bovada. The total was to be set a bit later in the week for OVER/UNDER betting purposes.

Prediction-scoring formulas run on this game pointed to a potential 46-31 result in favor of the Buckeyes early in the week. That outcome may change during the week, if injuries alter the models, so check the college football picks page before game time. View the computer score prediction and who will win the pick on the moneyline for all upcoming NCAAF matchups here.

USC Trojans vs Ohio State Buckeyes Matchup

Team Betting Records & Power Rankings

Ohio State battles the USC Trojans, currently with a 11-2 mark (4-9 ATS). The OVER/UNDER records, important for totals betting, are 9-4 for the Buckeyes and 7-6 for the USC Trojans. Stay Informed: follow us on Twitter for odds specials, betting line moves and Ohio State vs USC injuries news.

The Buckeyes sit at No. 1 in the current College Football Power Rankings here at OddsShark, while the USC Trojans are at No. 34 on that chart.

Statistical Matchup

Offensively, the game matches up the Ohio State Buckeyes' No. 5-ranked offense (43.75 PPG) against a USC Trojans defense that ranks No. 60 at 26.17 PPG. The Buckeyes passing attack has averaged 278.58 yards per game, more than the Trojans give up through the air (251 YPG on average).

In comparing defenses, the Trojans own the league's No. 49-rated front 7 in terms of stopping the run, allowing 160.2 yards per game when on the road. Ohio State, on the other hand, rates No. 19 this week in generating rushing yards at home.

Recent Outings Betting Recap

Sam Darnold led the way last time out for the Trojans, connecting for 325 passing yards in a 31-28 victory over the Cardinal at Levi's Stadium.

J.K. Dobbins ran through the Wisconsin defense for 174 yards in Ohio State's last game, handing the Badgers a 27-21 setback on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.