Ohio State brings pressure against USC in Cotton Bowl
By Joey Kaufman
ARLINGTON, Texas — Nick Bosa, Ohio State’s dominant pass rusher, was lined up in the edge position.
There was no USC offensive lineman left to block Bosa.
Instead, Bosa easily stormed past tight end Tyler Petite and running back Ronald Jones, barreling into the backfield to bring down Sam Darnold. He shrugged in celebration after the play.
The sequence commenced the first of Ohio State’s three sacks in the first half, as the Buckeyes frequently pressured and flustered Darnold, the Trojans’ redshirt sophomore quarterback, during the Cotton Bowl and built a 24-0 lead to open the game.
The pressure grew increasingly costly.
When Darnold was sacked on third down late in the second quarter, by defensive end Tyquan Lewis, another top pass rusher, he fumbled — the Trojans’ third turnover in the first half.
For much of this season, Darnold has been pressured, sacked 22 times in the first 13 games, a noticeable increase compared to last season. As a redshirt freshman, he was sacked only six times in his 10 starts.
Trojans safety Ykili Ross was academically ineligible for the Cotton Bowl, according to a school spokesman, and had not been with the team in Texas this week, thinning their secondary.
Ross, a redshirt sophomore, appeared in the Trojans’ previous 13 games and totaled seven tackles and two interceptions.
In a win at Cal in September, Ross picked off one pass and returned the ball 49 yards. He has two seasons of eligibility left.
Denzel Ward, a junior cornerback for Ohio State, announced shortly before kickoff of the Cotton Bowl that he was entering next year’s NFL draft, foregoing his final season of eligibility, and skip the game against the Trojans.
“This was a very difficult decision that I ultimately had to make,” Ward wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account. “But at the end of […]