The fifth-ranked Ohio State football team will take on No. 8 USC in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas, at 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.
What follows are five things to keep an eye on as the Buckeyes and Trojans do battle in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the bowl season.
5. Bi-polar Buckeyes
Perhaps the biggest question entering the Cotton Bowl is as simple as this: Which Ohio State team is going to show up?
Will it be the Buckeyes that many thought were a lock to make the College Football Playoff after beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game -- Ohio State's third victory over a top-12 team? Or will it be the Buckeyes who lost by double-digits at home against Oklahoma and later allowed 55 points in an early-November loss to Iowa?
At times this season Ohio State has looked both like a national title contender and its own worst enemy -- sometimes in the same game. Against an opponent as talented as USC, the Buckeyes will need to more resemble the former in order to avoid ending their season on a sour note.
4. Dominant defense
Although the Ohio State offense been more guilty of instability, the Buckeyes' defense hasn't been without issues of its own. Yet despite possessing a pass defense that has allowed 630 yards and 8 touchdowns in the team's two losses, more times than not, Ohio State's talent has covered up for any of its shortcomings.
That has rung particularly true up front, where the Buckeyes one of the most talented defensive lines in college football. Sophomore Nick Bosa is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, while teammates Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Dre'Mont Jones and Jalyn Holmes each possess NFL potential.
Facing the likes of quarterback Sam Darnold, and running back Ronald Jones III, Ohio State is going to need its dominant defense to show up in order to combat a Trojans offense that ranks 12th nationally in total offense.
3. Pro potential
Speaking of Darnold and Jones, there will be no shortage of future NFL talent on the field at the home of the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night.
Looking at CBSSports.com's list of the top 100 prospects in the upcoming draft, six players from USC and five from Ohio State make the cut. That's almost reminiscent of the 2016 Fiesta Bowl (the first one), when the NFL-heavy Buckeyes took on a Notre Dame team with plenty of pro talent of its own.
Even if you don't have a rooting interest, there are plenty reasons to tune in to Friday's game. And if you're a fan of the Cleveland Browns, that rings particularly true for one player in particular.
2. Darnold draft tracker
Having already locked the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, new Browns general manager John Dorsey already has his eye on the quarterbacks in the upcoming class. That means he -- and plenty of Cleveland fans -- will be tuning in on Friday to watch Darnold, who some consider the top quarterback prospect in all of college football.
After a stellar showing in 2016, the redshirt sophomore has remained steady this season, throwing for 3,787 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 63.7 percent of his passes. And while UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen may have already indicated he'd prefer not to play for the Browns, Darnold has no such fear, stating on Wednesday, "whenever I come out for the NFL, I'd be honored to play for any team."
Darnold has yet to make his intentions for the upcoming draft clear. But should he opt to forego his remaining eligibility, it seems likely that Cleveland will give the Trojans signal-caller a long look.
1. Bye bye Barrett
More than anything else from Ohio State's perspective, the Cotton Bowl will be remembered as the final game for one of the most accomplished Buckeyes of all time.
After four seasons, which resulted in two Playoff appearances, two conference titles, a national championship, as well as several Big Ten -- and most Ohio State -- passing records, J.T. Barrett's college career will come to an end.
And while Barrett's career has certainly been a polarizing one, his effort in the Big Ten Championship Game earlier this month -- which came less than a day after undergoing knee surgery -- seemed to cement his place in Ohio State lore. One more victory, however, could leave an even more lasting impression for a player whose legacy in Columbus is already unparalleled.