Cotton Bowl 2017: Five things to look forward to in USC vs Ohio State

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It’ll tell us what we need to know about Clay Helton

The other big factor that comes to mind for USC is coaching. Following all of the Steve Sarkisian fallout, the program ended up with Clay Helton.

A Rose Bowl win over Penn State and a trip to the Cotton Bowl later, it seems like the Trojans made the right move giving Helton the keys. However, this game against Ohio State will be the final deciding factor, as it should be.

If you remember from last season, the Rose Bowl game against Penn State was one for the ages. The Nittany Lions failed to score in the first and final quarter, meanwhile finding a way to explode for 49 combined points in the second and third.

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What this should’ve showed us is that under the biggest pressure, starting and finishing are Helton’s strong points as a coach. But what should also be fairly pointed out is the fact that Trojans got the game completely taken away from them in the most important part — the middle.

Such a mistake against Ohio State would be deadly; and it took 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to just get the win over Penn State.

It’s one thing to be able to analyze how someone like Sam Darnold does in big moments, but we have to remember that coaching in that moment matters just as much. If Helton can deliver a win over the Buckeyes, USC could be looking at an incredibly bright future.

They were already able to out-play Josh Rosen and the rival UCLA Bruins again, but this win would be the icing on the cake for Helton’s resume. He had his Trojans ranked as high as fourth over the course of the season, and through 13 games, has one more win than a year ago.

Can he pull it off against one of college football’s biggest dynasties?