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Cotton Bowl Classic Preview: USC-Ohio State History

USC and Ohio State has a long standing history. From numerous Rose Bowl meetings to memorable non conference clashes.

Ohio State v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

USC and Ohio State will meet once again in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas. Both of these historic programs have a long standing history that we’re all too familiar with. The two programs make up a combined 18 National Championships (USC-10 Ohio State- 8), 13 Heisman trophy winners (USC 6, Ohio St 7), 164 All Americans (USC-81, Ohio St-83) and 157 first round picks (USC-80, Ohio St-77). Part of their long standing history has been the historic clashes that the two have had through the years. USC and Ohio State have faced each other a total of 23 times with the Trojans leading the all-time series 13-9-1. Their first meeting came back in 1937 where the Trojans defeated the Buckeyes in Los Angeles 13-12. The following year USC made their first trip to Columbus, Ohio and won 14-7. USC also currently owns a 7 game winning streak over Ohio State.

Many college football fans will bring up the historic Rose Bowl games when they think of the Trojans and Buckeyes facing each other. USC and Ohio State faced off in 5 Rose Bowl Games. The first Rose Bowl meeting came in 1955 where a Top ranked Buckeyes team defeated No. 17 USC 20-7. 1969 the two met as the top two teams in the nation and Ohio State once again defeated the Trojans to claim the national championship. USC and Ohio State had a stretch where the two met in three straight Rose Bowl Games from 1973 to 1975. No team has faced each other in three straight Rose Bowl Games since then. The 1975 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Ohio State saw Trojans quarterback Pat Haden convert a 2-point attempt to Shelton Diggs to lift USC over Ohio State 18-17. The win would be the final appearance John McKay would make in the Rose Bowl game. It also gave the Trojans the UPI National Championship. One game that sticks out in mind is the 1980 Rose Bowl Game where No. 1 Ohio State faced No. 3 USC. Both teams came into the game undefeated, however USC had a 10-0-1 record thanks to a 21-21 tie with Stanford, leave it to the Cardinal to ruin things. Also something to note, Charles White won the Heisman trophy award that season as well. One of the plays that’s etched in USC history was Charles White leaping over the line and into the end zone to give USC the 17-16 victory over the Buckeyes. The 1980 Rose Bowl Game is one of the highest rated College football games of all-time, receiving a 28.6 Nielsen rating.

USC v Ohio State
Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley leads USC down the field to give the Trojans a 18-15 win over Ohio State in the 2009 meeting. (Photo via Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The last time the Trojans and Buckeyes met was a home and home series back in 2008 and 2009. The 2008 meeting took place at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where top ranked USC hosted No. 5 Ohio State in a highly anticipated regular season game. In that game the Trojans made a statement for the rest of the nation to see where they defeated Ohio State handedly 35-3. The following year, 2009 was a much closer and thrilling game. Down 15-10 and backed up deep in their own territory, USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley and running back the late Joe McKnight orchestrated a drive that Trojan fans will never forget. USC running back Stafon Johnson would rush for the score that would put USC up 16-15 with 1:05 left in the game. USC would then convert a 2-point conversion to put them up 18-15. That would go on to be the game winning touchdown.

USC and Ohio State will add another chapter to their long history on December 29th in their first meeting since 2009. Both are ranked in the top 10 and conference champions. This will be the first time the two meet outside of the state of Ohio and California (Los Angeles, CA, Pasadena, CA, and Columbus OH).