I made the trip to the Cotton Bowl on Friday night because I wanted to see how USC QB Sam Darnold would react when faced with the toughest test he's encountered to date -- a meeting with the highly talented Ohio State defense.

He was going to have to play his best football for USC to even be competitive in the game.

He wasn't up to the challenge Friday.

Darnold played an average game, completing 26 of 45 passes for 356 yards and no TDs -- he turned the ball over three times -- in a 24-7 loss to the Buckeyes.

Here are five takeaways on the Trojans star after scouting him in person Friday.

1. It was a disappointing night for Darnold, obviously, but I don't think his performance was as bad as some are making it out to be. People are acting like the sky is falling. It's not.

The degree of difficulty for him Friday was off the charts. He had no support from the run game and little help from his pass protection. He was constantly in third-and-long situations. There were no layups for him.

However, I think NFL evaluators are going to see a lot good things from Darnold when they study tape from this game. It's just a question of whether they believe his ball-security issues can be coached out of him.

They're going to like everything else about him.