Eight wishes for Ohio State against USC in the Cotton Bowl

BLOOMINGTON, IN - AUGUST 31: Urban Meyer the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, IN - AUGUST 31: Urban Meyer the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes gives instructions to his team during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Things I hope to see when Ohio State takes on USC.

This is Christmas week so it is time to make a few wishes for the Ohio State Buckeyes as they are about to take on the USC Trojans in the Cotton Bowl.

Here are eight things I would like to see from the Buckeyes in their last game of the 2017 season:

Start Fast

Playing well in the first quarter sets the tone for the game.  In the games against Clemson, Oklahoma, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan, the team started slow.

They recovered against the Nittany Lions and Wolverines.  The other games were blowouts.  Enough said.

J.K Dobbins and Mike Webber have more carries than J.T. Barrett

Barrett’s threat as a runner provides an advantage, but this offense is much better when the backs are carrying the load.

Linebackers have their best game of the season

The only position group on the team that did not have a player on the first, second or third All-Big Ten team was linebacker.

I can’t remember a time when the Buckeyes did not have a stud linebacker.

With a month to prepare for USC’s balanced attack, it is time for the maligned unit to rise to the occasion and deliver an epic performance.

Win the turnover battle

Sam Darnold is a great quarterback but he can be a little careless with the ball.  He threw 12 interceptions this season.

Damon Webb and Denzel Ward are not ball hawks, but they can make plays.  Let’s hope they can get two or more.

Barrett is typically protective of the ball.  He did throw four picks against Iowa and two against Wisconsin.  That can’t happen against USC, especially against the Trojans’ backend that has feasted on opposing quarterbacks this year.

Special teams

It has been an up and down year for Urban Meyer’s unit.  The punt team has been phenomenal and the kickoff team has been shockingly inconsistent.

Velus Jones, Jr. is a threat to take it the distance on kickoffs. He is as good as Parris Campbell.  It would be wise to avoid giving him an opportunity to do damage.

For the Buckeyes, it would be nice if the kickoff return team only saw the field one time all game, but that’s unlikely.  It has been too long since the Buckeyes have returned a kick for a touchdown.  Time to break that streak.

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Five sacks

The Rushmen are ranked No. 21 in the FBS in sacks averaging 2.85 per-game.  I would like to see Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard harass Darnold all game and get him to the ground at least five times.

Ten Units Strong

Meyer talks about nine units strong.  I always add one more unit.  The coaches.

The only complete game played by all 10 units, against a decent opponent, was Michigan State.

The team locked in after the devastating loss against the Hawkeyes.

I want to see that team take the field on Friday night.  Hungry.  Angry.  Ready to dominate.

Barrett Goes Out a Winner

Beyond the records and wins, the impact this young man has had on the Buckeyes program cannot be over-stated.  He is the leader.  He is a three-time captain.

Next: Big Ten East passes SEC West in recruiting?

While his career will not end with a playoff championship, he can go out and beat Ohio State’s primary non-Big Ten rival.  That will be a defining moment in his stellar career.