USC's Clay Helton on facing Ohio State: 'Classic matchup between two legendary programs'

December 4, 2017

The Big Ten champion Buckeyes will play in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 against Pac-12 champion Southern California in a matchup of 11-2 teams that flashes back to past Rose Bowls. This will be the eighth time they play in a bowl but the first time outside of Pasadena, California.

It has been 33 years since the last Rose Bowl matchup between USC and Ohio State.

''It's extremely special for our team as well as our fan base,'' USC coach Clay Helton said. ''This is a classic matchup between two legendary programs."

Some things to know about the Cotton Bowl matchup:

QB SHOWDOWN: Helton, a quarterback coach by trade, said he is a huge fan of Barrett. ''The matchup between J.T. and Sam (Darnold) is something that's going to be really fun to watch,'' Helton said. Barrett has thrown for 2,929 yards, run for 732 and accounted for 45 touchdowns (35 passing, seven rushing). Darnold has 3,787 yards passing and 31 USC touchdowns (26 passing, five rushing).

ONCE BEFORE: Ohio State and USC have both played in the Cotton Bowl only once before, when the game was still played in the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium on the site of the state fair of Texas in Dallas. The Trojans beat Texas Tech 55-14 on Jan. 1, 1995. Ohio State won 28-12 over Texas A&M on Jan. 1, 1987, when Meyer was on coach Earle Bruce's staff.

NOT FOR THE ROSES: Southern Cal has won the last seven games in the series against Ohio State, including four regular season games since they last faced each other in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 1985. The two teams last played early in the 2009 season, when the Trojans won 18-15 at Ohio Stadium.

ROLLING ON OFFENSE: The Trojans had 501 total yards in the Pac-12 title game. Darnold threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, and Ronald Jones II ran 30 times for 140 yards and two TDs. Michael Pittman Jr. set a Pac-12 championship game record with 146 yards receiving on seven catches.

BIG TEN IN COTTON: This is the fourth year in a row - all since the current CFP system went into place - that a Big Ten team will play in a Cotton Bowl. The game matched Big 12 and SEC teams before that.

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