2017 Cotton Bowl preview: USC vs Ohio State, 12-29-17

Two blue chip programs will matchup in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.

The Cotton Bowl will serve as a consolation prize for Ohio State (11-2 overall, 8-1 Big Ten) and USC (11-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12), both of whom had College Football Playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season.

Both teams are led by star quarterbacks. Sam Darnold, a consensus Top 10 NFL draft prospect, leads the men of Troy. J.T. Barrett, one of the most decorated quarterbacks in college football history, leads the Buckeyes.

Both teams enter the game as conference champions as USC defeated Stanford and Ohio State beat Wisconsin in their respective conferences.

Players to watch

Ohio State Buckeyes

J.K. Dobbins RB- Freshman 

Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins averaged 7.5 yards per rushing attempt and had six games this season with more than 100 rushing yards. After just one season, Dobbins is making waves and could find himself in the same breath as former Ohio State running backs Archie Griffin, Maurice Clarett and Eddie George. Dobbins took home the MVP award in the Big Ten Championship after finishing with 174 rushing yards on just 17 attempts.

Tyquan Lewis DL-Senior

Lewis is expected to be an early-round draft pick and will have to be accounted for by the Trojans offensive line. Lewis has 22 career sacks, 34.5 tackles for losses and four forced fumbles. When Lewis is at his best, he's a relentless pass rusher who is never out of a play.

USC Trojans

Ronald Jones II RB- Junior

Darnold might receive the air time but Ronald Jones II was the workhorse running back behind the Trojans offense.  Jones II finished the season with 242 carries for 1486 yards.  Like Dobbins, he had an impressive conference championship game. He finished with 140 rushing yards (4.7 YPC) and two touchdowns against Stanford.

Iman Marshall CB- Junior

 

Marshall has been as reliable as they come at USC.  The junior cornerback stands 6'1"  205 lbs, and he has the size scouts will covet in the NFL.  Marshall has six career interceptions.  A knee injury forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season. However, Marshall returned for the final two games of the season, finishing with two pass deflections.

Prediction: USC 21 Ohio State 35

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