Ohio State vs. USC Bowl Prediction
Are the Ohio State Buckeyes a smart bet to cover the point spread Friday night when they host the USC Trojans at 8:30 p.m. ET in the Cotton Bowl?
ODDSMAKERS LIKE: Ohio State. According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Buckeyes are 9.5-point favorites to beat the Trojans, who opened as 6-point underdogs. The total, meanwhile, hit the board at 64.5 points and that's where it currently sits.
THE PUBLIC LIKES: Ohio State. As of Friday afternoon, 51% of betting tickets are on the Buckeyes but the money for this game is split evenly, 50-50.
INJURY REPORT: Porter Gustin (biceps) is doubtful for this game while Jalen Greene (Shoulder) is questionable. Out for the Trojans is guard Viane Talamaivao, who tore his pectoral back in early October.
On the other side, Dante Booker (concussion) is questionable for the Buckeyes. Branden Bowen (leg), A.J. Alexander (knee), and Eric Glover-Williams (disciplinary) are all out.
WHO WE LIKE: Ohio State. I like betting Big Ten teams in bowl games. They tend to be physical on both sides of the ball and lean on their defense and running games. You don't have to be as in sync offensively if you lean on your running game.
Pac-12 teams, meanwhile, usually lean on their passing game. After having weeks off in between games, the tendency for teams that rely on their passing game is that they're out of sync by the time they play their bowl games. (A good example was on Thursday night when Michigan State romped Washington State.)
Granted, USC can run the ball as well with Ronald Jones but teams can't run on Ohio State. The Buckeyes finished eighth in the nation in run defense, allowing just 108.8 yards per game. Ohio State also ranks 20th in points allowed, surrendering 19.9 PPG.
Motivation is a question for Urban Meyer and Co., who probably feel as though they should be playing on New Year's Day in a playoff game. Then again, you can go the other way with that narrative. Maybe Ohio State feels disrespected.
The Trojans are 1-4 against the spread in their last five bowl games, are 2-8-1 against the number in their last 11 games overall, and are winless at 0-4 at the betting window in their last four non-conference games. On the other side, the Buckeyes are 10-2-1 against the spread in their last 13 games against Pac-12 opponents and have covered six of seven at neutral site venues.
GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC PREDICTION: OHIO STATE BUCKEYES -9.5