Footage of the national championship game from 2015 played on the giant video board inside AT&T Stadium on Tuesday as the Ohio State Buckeyes practiced.
Three years after the Buckeyes beat Oregon, they’re back in town for the Cotton Bowl, and that game is fresh enough in everyone’s memories that it will be a topic of conversation all week.
Ohio State’s opponent, Southern California, has played in the stadium even more recently, though it’s a game that brings back bad memories. Alabama beat the Trojans 52-6 in the 2016 season opener at AT&T Stadium. That loss is motivation for the Trojans, linebacker John Houston said Tuesday.
“I feel we’re a more confident team, confident defense as well,” he said. “We have great leaders on the field. So go out there and dominate and play our best.”
Finally healthy: Two Buckeyes who missed the Fiesta Bowl last season with injuries met with the media upon arriving in Texas on Saturday.
“What I’ll say is it’s just a blessing to be out there traveling with the guys last year, trying to help motivate them but you knew you couldn’t play,” defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle said. “It was kind of tough. Now, for us to be here back here and finishing the season strong and going out there and actually playing again in a bowl game, it’s a true blessing.”
Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon called it a blessing just to play a full season without an injury.
“I remember times sitting in that locker room that it just didn’t feel right,” Dixon said. “It’s exciting to be able to play this year.”
Week ahead: Ohio State will practice from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern time) Wednesday at AT&T Stadium. The Buckeyes will also visit patients at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and seven defensive players — Jerome Baker, Nick Bosa, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Chris Worley — will speak to the media Wednesday.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and USC coach Clay Helton will speak at a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and pose for a photo with the Field Scovell Trophy. The Buckeyes will hold a one-hour, walk-through practice at 5:50 p.m.
Final game: Meyer sees the Cotton Bowl as important for the legacy of quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is already the winningest quarterback in school history.
“He’s done so much for me and so much for our program,” Meyer said. “Only one way to go out: Play really well.”
The Trojans paid Barrett numerous compliments in their press conference Tuesday. Safety Chris Hawkins praised the patience of Barrett.
“When they call his number, I’ve seen defenses try to stop that and he’ll audible to another player,” Hawkins said. “He’s been here a long time. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I applaud him. He’s one of the best, I mean, that I’ve seen.”