Series history: USC leads 13-9-1 and has won seven games in a row. The Trojans won the last game 18-15 in 2009 in Columbus. Ohio State last beat USC 42-21 in 1974 in Pasadena, Calif. The teams have played in the Rose Bowl seven times, most recently in 1985, but never in the Cotton Bowl.
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Last game: On Dec. 1, USC beat Stanford 31-28 in the Pac-12 Championship. On Dec. 2, Ohio State beat Wisconsin 27-21 in the Big Ten Championship.
Coaches: Ohio State's Urban Meyer is 72-8 in his sixth season. Clay Helton is 27-9 in his fourth season at USC.
Ohio State notes: The Buckeyes are playing in their 48th bowl game. They beat Texas A&M 28-12 in their only previous Cotton Bowl appearance in 1987. … Ohio State has eight players from Texas. … Ohio State has held six of its last eight opponents under 100 yards rushing. … Ohio State is the only team in the nation to rank in the top 10 in total offense (523.6 yards per game) and total defense (292.3). … Meyer is 47-4 when he has more than one week to prepare for an opponent. That number includes season openers. … Linebacker Jerome Baker leads the team with 67 tackles. Defensive end Nick Bosa leads the team with seven sacks. … Safety Damon Webb has four of the team's 12 interceptions.
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USC notes: The Trojans have had 18 lettermen from Ohio in their history, including center Tom Cox (1984-85), a Xenia High School graduate. … USC has the fourth-highest winning percentage in the nation in bowl games (.667) among teams that have made at least 10 bowl appearances. Its overall bowl record is 34-17. … The Trojans have won 11 national championships. Ohio State has won eight. USC has 38 conference titles. Ohio State has 36. … Ronald Jones leads the team in rushing (123.8 yards per game). Deontay Burnett is the leading receiver (74 catches for 975 yards and nine touchdowns).
Quoted: "They're athletic on defense," Ohio State offensive lineman Jamarco Jones said of USC. "They have guys flying all over the place. They've got guys in the middle. They bring everything to the table that you want in a defense. I would say they bring some exotic looks. They blitz from all different areas."
Prediction: Ohio State 24, USC, 23.