Ohio State will clash with the University of Southern California in the Cotton Bowl on Friday, December 29, at 8:30 pm EST at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. This is a very intriguing series even though this will be just the 24th meeting between the two. The Trojans hold a 13-9-1 edge and have won the last seven games. The Buckeyes’ last victory was 42-21 in the Rose Bowl following the 1973 season, Archie Griffin’s sophomore season.

Seven of the games were Rose Bowl encounters, with USC holding a 4-3 edge. Ohio State captured two undefeated-untied national titles following Rose Bowl victories over the Trojans; 20-7 to claim the 1954 honor and 27-16 for the 1968 championship.

The Buckeyes’ largest margin of victory has been 33-0 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1941, Paul Brown’s first season as OSU head coach. It also was the Buckeyes’ very first all-time victory over a west coast opponent. Their longest winning streak in the series is three games from 1941 through 1946. USC’s largest victory margin was 42-3 in 1989, and the school’s current seven game winning streak is also its longest.

The two programs possess many impressive records. OSU has an all-time winning rate of 72.5%, while USC’s rate is 70.3%. The Buckeyes have won eight national titles, the Trojans possess 10. Each school has captured 39 conference championships. Ohio State players have won seven Heisman Trophies, Southern California players have been awarded six. 

This will be OSU’s second Cotton Bowl appearance. The eleventh ranked Buckeyes became the first Big Ten team to play in the Cotton Bowl when they defeated eighth ranked Texas A&M, 28-12, before a sellout crowd of 74,188 on January 1, 1987. Ohio State completely confused the Aggies with an entirely new defense comprised of five linebackers, four players in the secondary and only two tackles. Using this plan, the 11th-ranked Buckeyes set what was then a Cotton Bowl record with five interceptions. Scott Leach manned the new “wildcard” position that was essentially a strong safety-linebacker combination.

Earle Bruce looked very dapper along the sidelines in a new charcoal suit, black patent-leather shoes, a white striped tie and a new black fedora with a scarlet feather. Bruce surprised everyone with a quick change from his normal coaching gear following his team’s pre-game warm-ups. His players also added a new look to their standard gray pants and white jerseys – red shoes.

The game was one of big plays with few sustained drives. Two of OSU’s second half interceptions went for touchdowns. Chris Spielman took one 24 yards early in the third quarter and Michael Kee went 49 yards in the final period for the game’s final score. Quarterback Jim Karsatos was the game’s leading passer with 195 yards on 10 completions.

Ohio State finished the 1986 season at 10-3 overall, good for seventh place in the final Associated Press rankings. Michigan (11-2) finished one spot behind the Buckeyes at eighth, after losing the Rose Bowl 22-15 to coach John Cooper’s Arizona State Sun Devils.