You don’t need to wait until New Year’s Day for a playoff-quality matchup, as No. 8 USC and No. 5 Ohio State are set to meet in this year’s Cotton Bowl on Friday night. The Pac-12 and Big Ten champions were undoubtedly both disappointed to miss out on the Final Four, but this still nevertheless serves as a massive showdown.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch:
Live Stream Info
The Cotton Bowl is scheduled for Friday, December 29, at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN. That means you can watch a live stream via WatchESPN if you have a cable log-in, but if you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch ESPN online, on your phone or on another streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, so you can watch USC vs Ohio State at no cost:
DirecTV Now: ESPN is included in all four channel packages. It comes with a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get $25 off your first month if you enter promo code “BDAY2017”. You can watch on your computer via your browser, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app
Sling TV: ESPN is included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial right here. You can watch on your computer via the Sling website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
PlayStation Vue: ESPN is included in all four channel packages. You can sign up for a free 5-day trial right here. You can watch on your computer via the PS Vue website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the PlayStation Vue app
Also note: You can also watch on your computer via the WatchESPN website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. When you’re asked to verify your cable provider, you’ll just use your DirecTV Now, Sling TV or PS Vue credentials to sign in
This is what the Rose Bowl would be if the Granddaddy of Them All wasn’t hosting the college football playoffs this year, but don’t let the fact that it’s taking place on a Friday night before the New Year deceive you. This has a legitimate chance to be the best game of the entire bowl season.
“These matchups are just as exciting, and our kids are looking forward to it,” USC coach Clay Helton said.
Offensively, both teams can be downright unstoppable. The Buckeyes average 523.6 yards (7th in the country) and 42.5 points (fifth) per contest, while the Trojans put up 490.0 (ninth) and 34.5 (20th), respectively. Ohio State has put up 40-plus points seven times, and the Trojans have hit that threshold on four occasions. The over/under is set at a whopping 65 points, and even that may not be safe.
For as much star power as these teams have under center–Ohio State has a dual-threat quarterback in J.T. Barrett who has piled up over 12,000 total yards in career, while USC is led by a potential Top-5 pick in Sam Darnold–this matchup may be decided by the running games.
In addition to Barrett’s 732 yards on the ground, the Buckeyes have gotten 1,364 yards from J.K. Dobbins and another 608 from Mike Weber. They are eighth in America in yards per carry (5.9) and 12th in rushing yards per game (250.2), serving as a massive test for a USC front seven that is talented but has given up a healthy 4.4 yards per carry on the year.
“It starts with the running game,” linebacker Cameron Smith said. “That’s kind of our key every single time we walk out on the field, is we’ve got to limit that running game and make them one-dimensional.”
On the other side of the ball, the Trojans don’t run it nearly as much as Ohio State, but they can be effective in that facet, as Ronald Jones II is a big play waiting to happen with 1,651 yards, 6.5 yards per touch and 19 total touchdowns on the season.
“Their running back is ridiculous,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “I finally had a chance to really watch him (on game film).”
When it comes down to it, both teams have potent offenses that can beat you in a variety of ways, and both teams are desperate to prove they belonged in the college football playoff. Put it all together, and you have the recipe for a thrilling Rose Bo–er, Cotton Bowl.