SoCal’s two college football teams during the 2012 Crosstown Rivalry game…
INFORMATION AND THOUGHTS REGARDING THE BRUINS’ AND TROJANS’ UPCOMING BOWL GAMES
* COTTON BOWL – USC Trojans vs Ohio State Buckeyes (New Year’s Six bowl)
Place: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Day/Date/Time: Friday, December 29, 5:30 p.m.
Line: Ohio State by 7 1/2
Rank (according to the College Football Playoff Rankings):
Ohio State – 5th
USC – 8th
USC TROJANS BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 11-2, 8-1 and first place in the Pac-12 South
* Pac-12 Conference Champions, beating Stanford in the Pac-12 title game, 31-28, on December 1st
Coach: Clay Helton
Sam Darnold, QB: 63.7% completions, 3,787 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT
Ronald Jones II, RB: 1,486 yards, 6.1 ypc, 18 TD
Deontay Burnett, WR: 74 receptions, 975 yards, 9 TD
Cameron Smith, LB: 102 tackles, 10 TFL
Rasheem Green, DL: 37 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 9 sacks
Jalen Jones, DB: 4 INT (USC has 16 INTs as a team)
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 11-2, 8-1 and first place in the Big Ten East Division
* Big Ten Conference Champions, beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game, 27-21, on December 2nd
Coach: Urban Meyer
J.T. Barrett, QB: 64.6%, 2,928 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT – 743 rushing yards, 5.0 ypc, 10 TD
J.K. Dobbins, RB: 1,364 yards, 7.5 ypc, 7 TD
K.J. Hill, WR: 55 receptions, 546 yards, 3 TD
Jerome Baker, LB: 67 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks
Nick Bosa, DL: 32 tackles, 14.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks
Damon Webb, DB: 56 tackles, 4 INT (Ohio State has 12 INT as a team)
A scene from a past USC-Ohio State game. Photo courtesy of dailytrojan.com
If there’s anyone out there that doesn’t see this bowl game as the best outside of the College Football Playoff, I would like to meet him or her.
Indeed, being that the two teams are Pac-12 and Big Ten champs respectively, this match-up between these Trojans and Buckeyes is essentially the Rose Bowl moved 1,500 miles to the east, and that’s only due to the fact that the “Grandaddy of Them All” is hosting Oklahoma and Georgia in one of the playoff semifinals.
It’s refreshing that ‘SC is getting to pick on someone who’s not only their own size, but who might even be a little bigger than them.
Which also goes for the “Spirit of Troy”, the USC Trojan Marching Band, as the dotting of the “I” that Ohio State’s “TBDBITL” – The Best Damn Band In The Land” – does before every game is every bit as iconic and traditional as the ‘SC drum major stabbing the middle of the field before the playing of “Tribute to Troy”, which starts their pregame show.
I won’t go on about who has the edge in what should be an excellent game, a potential instant classic between two top-ten teams and traditional powers, but I will say this…
If those Trojans beat Ohio State – and if their QB Sam Darnold chooses to make the NFL wait another year and return to USC – they will be favorites not only to repeat as Pac-12 champs in 2018,
But also as favorites to be one of the four teams in next year’s College Football Playoff.
And while Jones II, with his back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, is as good as gone (don’t even fantasize about him staying, Trojan Family, because it’s not going to happen!), the chances of Darnold remaining at USC for his senior year rather than enter then NFL draft next April will be that much better if the band is able to play “Conquest” at the end of the game.
* CACTUS BOWL – UCLA Bruins vs Kansas State Wildcats
Place: Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
Day/Date/Time: Tuesday, December 26th, 6:00 p.m.
Line: Kansas State by 2
UCLA BRUINS BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 6-6, 4-5 and fourth place in the Pac-12 South
* 6-0 at home
Coach: Jedd Fisch (interim)
Josh Rosen, QB: 62.5%, 3,717 yards, 26 TD, 10 INT
Bolu Olorunfunmi, RB: 542 yards, 5.2 ypc, 5 TD
Soso Jamabo, RB: 5.1 ypc, 6 TD
Jordan Lasley, WR: 61 receptions, 1,136 yards, 8 TD
Kenny Young, LB: 101 tackles, 7.5 TFL
Jacob Tuitoti-Mariner, DL: 48 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks
Darnay Holmes, DB: 37 tackles, 2 INT (including 1 pick-6)
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 7-5, 5-4 and (a four-way) tied for third place in the Big-12 Conference
Coach: Bill Snyder
Skylar Thompson, QB: 63.2%, 662 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Alex Barnes, RB: 702 yards, 5.2 ypc, 6 TD
Isiah Zuber, WR: 51 receptions, 510 yards, 4 TD
Trent Tanking, LB: 96 tackles
Jayd Kirby, LB: 93 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 4 sacks
D.J. Reed, DB: 43 tackles, 4 INT (Kansas State has 12 INT as a team)
Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley getting yards during the 2015 Alamo Bowl, the last time the Bruins faced Kansas State. Photo courtesy of si.com
After everything that UCLA has gone through this season, from their run defense ranking last in the nation as there were quite a few times where they tackled about as good as a jelly donut,
To their coach, Jim Mora, being fired the day after a USC game in which they exceeded expectations and actually had a chance to beat the Trojans, but ultimately lost due to too many dumb and avoidable mistakes,
To athletic director Dan Guerrero making headlines in hiring big name coach Chip Kelly,
The fact that those Bruins are in the post season is something they need to be proud of, rising to the occasion in beating Cal at the Rose Bowl to earn bowl eligibility.
As for their chances of beating Kansas State in a baseball stadium the day after Christmas (Chase Field is the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a familiar rival of the Dodgers),
Three words sum up my sentiments regarding to this…
I. Don’t. Know.
Kansas State’s numbers on offense don’t look great at first glance, but the way the Bruins have performed against the run that could change REAL fast.
As is the fact that the Wildcats’ defense has intercepted 12 passes.
If UCLA’s run defense plays the way they did against USC,
If their passing game performs they way they have of late, with Lasley in particular having been the man at wide receiver ever since he came back from suspension against Arizona State,
If they can avoid the distractions that may well come with their coaching staff being lame ducks (two of them have already been let go and will not coach the Bruins in the game), with Kelly set to officially take over as soon as the clock hits three zeroes in the fourth quarter on the 26th,
And if – most of all – those Bruins can avoid the mistakes that have plagued them all season long,
Their chances of finishing the season with a winning record – 7-6 looks a heck of a lot better than 6-7 – will be decent.
UCLA Bruins tight end Austin Roberts (88) catches a pass for a first down past USC Trojans linebacker Cameron Smith (35) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG) Photo courtesy of daily news.com