Denzel Ward skips Cotton Bowl, senior season to enter National Football League draft


In what is undoubtedly the biggest bowl matchup to date, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic brings us a top ten clash when the No. 8 USC Trojans do battle with the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. And the OSU secondary should have been devastated when lockdown corner Denzel Ward, after practicing all week, dropped a bomb that he was going to sit out the bowl game and save himself for the NFL. Ohio State has put up 40-plus points seven times, and the Trojans have hit that threshold on four occasions.

Without All-American cornerback Denzel Ward, who made a decision to sit out the game after declaring for the NFL Draft, Ohio State's secondary was expected to be tested against USC quarterback Sam Darnold, especially without their top playmaker in the defensive backfield. The Buckeyes rushing attack is similarly unsafe as the Fighting Irish's and that could be a big problem for USC. "That's the way we won that game". "And our secondary", Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

But if he's coming out, the Browns would be fools not to take him because of his other assets: size (6-4, 220 pounds), a good arm, did we mention size?

The USC Trojans have a 13-9-1 advantage in the all-time series between the teams.

DEFENSE: A. Simply dominating. They can be attacked through the air with taller receivers as they like to play a lot of man coverage on the outside and more physical receivers can beat their corners, but that's easier said than done.

The Trojan offense will be going against arguably the best and most athletically gifted defensive front it has all year, and Darnold would love nothing more than to show National Football League scouts that he can be the best player on a field full of high draft picks.

Ward, who is rated as a first-round draft choice, issued a statement before the game that said in part, "This was a very hard decision that I ultimately had to make". "You're talking about two teams that were in that controversy and in that discussion right down to the end, and have the ability to have this game against two really premier teams in the country".

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Ward's father, Paul, a middle school principal in Bedford, Ohio, died past year of a heart attack at age 46. Ohio State will need to able to run the ball in order to win. He finished with 16 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns, simply making it look way too easy at times. Freshman RB J.K. Dobbins is one of the future running backs stars in the making. They had their chances but could not find the end zone. He has thrown 8 INTs in his last five games, including two in the Big Ten title game vs Wisconsin.

"That defensive line took a quarterback that we have a tremendous amount of respect for and he didn't set his feet all night", Meyer said. The total, meanwhile, hit the board at 64.5 points and that's where it now sits. The reason? Brandon Wimbush, a quarterback who would finish the game with more than 100 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, adding another 2 in the air.

He will surely be needed against the Trojans, who sport one of the nation's most prolific offenses led by quarterback Sam Darnold, possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Big Ten-winning Buckeyes won the first championship in the four-team CFP era three years ago. OSU had 19 yards to score on the first fumble, returned its second-quarter interception for a touchdown and got another fumble on its own 41. And it didn't have to wait long.

Sam Darnold throws for over 300 yards and at least three touchdowns.

The second half started with questionable play-calling by Ohio State. That lasted less than a quarter when he injured his right patellar tendon, costing him the season. Backup RB Mike Weber has also played well as he has 608 rushing yards and ten rushing touchdowns.

Ohio State knows this weekend's venue well.