Land of 10/file photo
Ohio State left tackle Jamarco Jones will need a big game against a talented USC pass rush.

Ohio State football: Cotton Bowl will hinge on success of Buckeyes’ offensive line

Austin Ward

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This isn’t exactly going out on a limb, but there will never be an Ohio State game under Urban Meyer where he doesn’t emphasize the importance of his blockers up front. But with USC bringing one of the most potent pass-rushing units in the country to the Cotton Bowl Classic, the pressure will absolutely be on the Buckeyes on the offensive line to deliver and keep J.T. Barrett protected in his last game with the program.

The Trojans have racked up an eye-popping 43 sacks this season, and slowing down a disrupter such as Rasheem Green will be imperative for the Buckeyes to keep the offense moving. For the most part this season, Ohio State has shown dramatic improvement in keeping the pocket clean, allowing just 19 sacks even after playing a handful of the toughest defenses in the country on the way to the Big Ten title. But USC is certainly capable of putting offensive line coach Greg Studrawa’s group to the test, which could turn this critical matchup into something of an audition for a couple future NFL draft picks.

ohio state-Buckeyes-Rimington Trophy-Cotton Bowl-Billy Price
Rimington Trophy winner Billy Price will be playing his last game at Ohio State. (Land of 10/file photo)

If Billy Price and Jamarco Jones are able to slow down the Trojans, that should only help their stock moving forward as professionals. Obviously, that’s in addition to putting Barrett in position to make some throws downfield to targets such as Parris Campbell and Binjimen Victor. The Trojans defense did have a couple rough outings with big numbers against them on the scoreboard this season.

USC is certainly going to throw everything it has at Barrett and the Buckeyes to try to get that high-scoring attack off balance, and there is no question it has the talent to create problems. More often than not this season, Ohio State’s big guys up front have been able to offer solutions — and they will need to come through one more time to cap the season with a Cotton Bowl trophy.

 

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