Last Updated: 2018-12-08
The Rose Bowl is one of the most iconic bowl games in college football history. Traditionally, The Granddaddy of Them All has taken the champion from the Big Ten and the champion from the Pac-12. It just so happened to work that way this year as the Ohio State Buckeyes and Washington Huskies will meet in Pasadena.
In the BCS and College Football Playoff era, it hasn’t always worked out, but it certainly caught this author by surprise that the Ohio State Buckeyes are only playing in the Rose Bowl for the third time in the last 34 years. This will be the 16th all-time appearance for the Huskies, who have not appeared in this game since 2001.
Focus won’t be a problem for either one of these programs given those historical facts. Furthermore, focus won’t be a problem at all for Ohio State, as this will be the last game for the Buckeyes under head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer announced his retirement in early December and Ryan Day will take over in Columbus. We saw some initial reaction in the betting market to bump Ohio State to as much as a 6.5-point favorite, but we haven’t hit that key number of -7 yet.
The total of 58 is rather interesting, given that Washington’s offense had some problems over the course of the season and the defense carried the team. On the other hand, Ohio State’s defense has had all kinds of problems and the offense has carried the team. These are two of the best coaches in college football with Chris Petersen and Urban Meyer. Meyer is a laughable 42-15 ATS with at least eight days to prep for a team. He has a lot more than that here and he is 11-3 ATS in bowl games. He’s also 35-17-1 against ranked opponents, which Washington is.
It seems like the deck is stacked against Washington, but to borrow a phrase from Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” Not only does Washington have one of the most talented secondaries in the country, but the Huskies quietly got healthier late in the season. Myles Gaskin will be as healthy as he’s been at any point this season, which helps. Hunter Bryant came back from injury to grab seven passes for 187 yards late in the year. Star left tackle Trey Adams returned, though we’ll have to see if he skips the bowl game to prep for the NFL Draft after missing most of his senior season.
As bad as the Ohio State defense was on a yards per play basis this season, the Buckeyes still forced 23 turnovers this season. The onus will be on Jake Browning to avoid those. The senior quarterback was talked about as a top NFL Draft pick as a sophomore, but he regressed in a big way over his last two seasons. He only has a 16/10 TD/INT ratio heading into this game.
Suffice it to say that Dwayne Haskins will feel snubbed regarding the Heisman Trophy. Haskins has thrown for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdown passes in his first year as the Ohio State starter. Haskins may decide to go pro after this game, which would leave Ryan Day with Tate Martell and incoming true freshman Dwan Mathis. In any event, Haskins, who has a pro arm, has spread the ball around well to his wideouts and has only thrown eight picks. He also made the Michigan defense look horrible.
Washington’s pass defense got a lot of love in the win over Utah and only allowed nine touchdown passes, but did allow a 64.3 percent completion percentage, which ranked 117th in the nation. They just prevented big plays. They also haven’t seen a big play offense like Ohio State’s.
The Huskies run defense ranked 25th nationally in yards per carry allowed. Ohio State only had 4.2 yards per carry and did struggle to generate big plays. Ohio State hasn’t had a running play of more than 50 yards this season. That is the first time since 2003. JK Dobbins has just 4.6 yards per carry, but still has over 1,000 yards. Mike Weber has 5.5 yards per carry. We’ll see if Washington can handle getting spread out by Ohio State’s speed. That could open some interior running lanes.
One interesting note about this game, and about the total specifically, is that Ohio State’s TD% in the red zone was only 59.09 percent and Washington’s was only 54.24 percent. These two teams had trouble punching it in. Washington was much better at defending in the red zone than Ohio State, as opponents only scored a TD on 54.29 percent of their trips inside the 20 on the Huskies.
Rose Bowl Free Pick: Ohio State Buckeyes -6.5
There are better numbers out there, but since this is the consensus number, this is the one that we’ll be using for the preview. Ohio State is a bad matchup for Washington. Between the speed, the big play capability, and Urban Meyer with extra prep, it is a really tough spot for the Huskies, even a coach as good as Chris Petersen.
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