Sure, they would have been replaced for each program by quarterfinal games with higher stakes that included the potential for a championship.
Two teams that fell short of the playoffs square off tonight. The Cotton Bowl moved from its namesake stadium after AT&T Stadium opened in 2009. Barrett will leave campus as one of the greatest players in Big Ten history. The fifth-ranked Buckeyes rolled USC 24-7 with a dominant performance from its defensive line and a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race effort by quarterback J.T. Barrett. Can I play better?' If that's the case, then you'll see him coming back. "We always have a tailgate in Columbus, on the corner of Coffey Road and Woody Hayes Drive, and select road games and we have a good time".
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Unfortunately, Ohio State is in a similar position, and was happy to take full advantage of Burnett's gaffe on USC's second play from scrimmage in the Cotton Bowl.
This year, he injured his knee warming up for the game against MI, had surgery on the knee the following day and led the team to a Big Ten Championship the following weekend. 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.
That's not a bad trade for those teams, but the sacrifice to get there would mean pushing the rest of bowl season closer to becoming football's version of the NIT.
It's no guarantee either way.
Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward escalated the trend of top National Football League prospects sitting out bowl games when he skipped Friday night's Cotton Bowl matchup against USC in order to avoid potential injury. With his pick-six, fumble recovery and five total tackles, Webb earned the McKnight Trophy as the defensive player of the game.
That is not the case everywhere.
Barrett beat an wonderful nine top-10 teams in his Ohio State career, by far the most in school history, and was 4-0 vs. Michigan, including a pair of top-10 Wolverine teams. The Ohio State signal-caller amassed 129 total yards and completed passes to only three receivers.
From forcing the Burnett fumble to Webb returning an interception for a touchdown, they set up a majority of the scores for the Buckeyes. That began a 24-0 run for the Buckeyes which was only halted by a muffed punt which set USC up in the red zone to score a relatively easy touchdown before the half.
Sam Darnold throws for over 300 yards and at least three touchdowns.
Both starting quarterbacks left in the first half with injuries, though Kentucky's Stephen Johnson returned early in the third quarter.
While a 24-7 scoreline would seem flattering, Ohio State's offense really did minimal work on Friday night. Cade Carney scored on a 1-yard, fourth-down run to send Wake Forest into the lead with 9:06 to play.
The second half stood as a testament to the defense, which shut out the Buckeyes offense and held a team that averages over 500 yards a game to a measly 277.
The Buckeyes ultimately won out to make it to the Big Ten Championship game against the undefeated Wisconsin Badgers, whom they beat 27-21 in a last ditch attempt to make the playoff. USC was held to three-and-out on two occasions and kept off the scoreboard despite three trips into OSU territory.