Cotton Bowl: Studs and duds in USC’s loss to Ohio State

Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images /
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images /

USC came up short, 24-7, against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. Here are the studs and duds from USC’s loss.

USC football ended 2017 with a frustrating 24-7 loss in the Cotton Bowl versus Ohio State. With all eyes on a matchup between college football blue-bloods, the Trojans’ offense was not up to the task.

Multiple turnovers and inconsistent play kept the Men of Troy from ending their season on a high note.

Here are the studs and duds from Friday night’s game.


Ohio State’s defensive line

Coming into the game, everyone knew a key battle was going to be Ohio State’s vaunted defensive line against USC’s patchwork offensive line. While the matchup looked lopsided on the stat sheet because of their eight sacks, the key was that the Buckeye defensive line was able to make plays in the red zone and keep USC off the board in key situations.

They wreaked a lot of havoc, which was expected, and defensive end Nick Bosa proved why he was the Big Ten Defensive Linemen of the Year.

USC’s defense

The most under-appreciated unit for USC all season turned in one of the gutsiest performances of 2017 while the offense struggled with sustaining drives. Through all of that adversity, the defense continued to claw, scratch and fight to keep the game reasonable. The kept the Trojans’ hope alive that the offense might finally show up to the party and put some points on the board.

Unfortunately for Clancy Pendergast’s side of the ball, that never happened and USC was only able to score 7 points all night. The defense could have easily collapsed and turned tonight into Alabama 2016 all over again. Kudos to Pendergast and his group for the effort they put forth.

Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr

The two young Trojans are absolutely dynamic, and they showed their ability to make big catches against Ohio State’s press coverage. Vaughns finished with six catches for 119 yards, while Pittman Jr. finished with three catches for 69 yards. Together, they both made incredible catches down both sidelines for big first downs.

Granted, this stud should also include Deontay Burnett, who had 12 catches for 139 yards. But his fumble and drop in the first half were big reasons why USC was trying to throw their way back into the game in the first place.

One thing can be said for sure though: next year’s USC receiving corps will absolutely not be the question mark it was to start 2017.