Cotton Bowl Odds: USC vs. Ohio State Betting Pick, Analysis

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: J.T. Barrett #16 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass during the Big Ten Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The USC Trojans and Ohio State Buckeyes met for several classic Rose Bowl battles in days gone by, often with national championship implications. USC lost the first two meetings but won four of the next five. These two storied programs meet again this bowl season, not in Pasadena but in suburban Dallas in the Cotton Bowl on Friday, December 29.

College football point spread: The Buckeyes opened as six-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 45.8-31.2 Buckeyes (College football picks on every game)

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Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread

USC carries a five-game winning streak into this Cotton Bowl, following its 31-28 victory over Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game. The Trojans broke the ice on a Sam Darnold touchdown pass 10 minutes into the game, pushed their lead to 10 points three times and hung on for the win.

USC was in danger of falling down to the Cardinal midway through the fourth quarter, but it made a goal-line stand, then drove 99 yards for the game-clinching score.

On the night, the Trojans outgained Stanford 501-343 and outrushed the Cardinal 176-151. So USC has outgained six of its last eight opponents and outrushed 11 of its last 12 foes.

Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

The Buckeyes own a four-game winning streak, after beating previously unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game 27-21. Ohio State scored first on an 84-yard JT Barrett touchdown connection with Terry McLaurin, pushed that advantage to 21-7, let the Badgers get within three points at 24-21 but added a late field goal and hung on from there.

For the game, the Buckeyes outgained Wisconsin 449-298 and outrushed the ground-oriented Badgers 238-60. But three Ohio State turnovers led directly to 17 Wisconsin points. Otherwise, the Buckeyes might have blown the Badgers out.

Ohio State has outgained 10 of its last 11 opponents, and outrushed 12 of its last 13 foes, most by huge margins.

Smart pick

The line on this game seems slightly inflated, but ultimately the team that wins the ground battle will probably win this game and cover this spread. And that team is most likely to be Ohio State. Also, USC is just 1-7 ATS its last eight times out as an underdog. The smart money here bets on the Buckeyes.

College football betting trends

The total has gone over in eight of Ohio State's last 10 games.

Ohio State is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games against the Pac-12.

The total has gone over in five of USC's last seven games.

All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.