Despite winning the Big Ten Conference, No. 5 Ohio State was left out of the College Football Playoff as No. 4 Alabama snuck in thanks to the lobbying of Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
Wanting to show that they belonged among the Top 4 teams, the Buckeyes did just that as they led from start to finish in a 24-7 dominating victory over No. 8 USC in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.
The Cotton Bowl was the eighth time the two powerhouses, who claim a total of 19 national championships, have met in the postseason with the Trojans having won seven consecutive games heading into Friday’s showdown.
Ohio State senior QB J.T. Barrett completed 11 of 17 passes for 114 yards while aslo adding 16 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to victory.
Playing in his final collegiate game, Barrett broke Drew Brees’ Big Ten career record for total offense with 12,697 yards. Barrett finishes his career with a 38-6 record as a starter and finishes with 147 total touchdowns (104 passing, 43 rushing) to set a Big Ten record.
“It’s pretty crazy. I mean, since I was little I looked up to Drew Brees,” Barrett said. “To pass a record like that, just very grateful to the people that were around me.”
Ohio State sacked USC QB Sam Darnold, and likely a Top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft, eight times and never let the redshirt sophomore get his feet set because of all the pressure from the defensive line.
Buckeyes defensive back Damon Webb also returned an interception for a touchdown after recovering a fumble to set up an early score.
Ohio State will take on Oregon State in its 2018 season-opening game on Sept. 1, while USC will host UNLV. Two weeks later, both the Buckeyes and Trojans return to the Lone Star State for games against TCU and Texas on Sept. 15.