The College football world and bowl season owes it all to the very existence of the Rose Bowl Game.
Dubbed the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All”, the esteemed postseason extravagant is the first bowl game. This year, the 2019 edition marks the 105th it has been played. Over the previous 104 installments, everything from national championships to the political atmosphere of The Second World War has set the Rose Bowl’s tone. The volume of its history is summarized by representatives of the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences to-to-toeing-it, all in view of the wondrous and magnificent scenery of the San Gabriel Mountains.
But, and that is with an emphasis, the introduction of the College Football Playoff has completely changed the value, for the lack of a better word, of the Rose Bowl Game “a bit,” This year’s meeting between Washington and Ohio State marks the first showdown of Pac-12 and Big Ten champions since Michigan State knocked off Stanford in January 2014 — the last year of the old Bowl Championship Series.
Despite the departure from history, the Rose Bowl has maintained its place as one of the most exciting landmarks on the college football calendar. The 2017 edition between USC and Penn State was a game for what true college football nuts could not side-step in memory, though it would oddly be over-shone a year later when Georgia beat Oklahoma in an overtime thriller as part of the College Football Playoff.
The benchmark to meet recent installments is high for Washington and Ohio State, two programs at the final stage of different eras. For the Huskies, the Granddaddy is a farewell to an elite class of seniors, for The Ohio State University Buckeyes, it marks the end of Urban Meyer’s tenure as head coach, a sad farewell for some of us.
The Rose Bowl Game is presented by Northwestern Mutual: The Washington Huskies (10-3) vs. The Ohio State University (12-1).
Kickoff: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena, Calif.)
Spread: Ohio State -6.5
Three Notes of interest:
1. Opening up the playbook
Both Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and Washington head coach Chris Petersen has a cultured status for their eagerness to motivate an offense with a willingness to explore. Both of their unique play-calling values have been at their most inventive and successful in the postseason.
Meyer ends his career at the Rose Bowl Game, making it the prime opportunity for one of the most successful adjusters and precursor’s of the spread offense to fiddle with curious calls. Doing so might also be a necessity; Washington’s defense is one of the stingiest in college football, coming in with a 15.5-point per game yield (No. 5 in the country) and a deep, talented secondary.
Conversely, Washington’s offense has struggled at times to establish reliability on offense. The Ohio State University’s defense has been suspect often (In my opinion) throughout this season, specifically in the “unprepared” presentation of “unexpected” play-calls which have (and allow me to be frank) resulted in explosive gains. Such was the case in a loss to Purdue, and near-miss, overtime win against Maryland.
2. Stress on fiery “moments”.
Key to any deception either on Meyer or Petersen’s part(s) might give the push needed for offensive coordinators Ryan Day and Bush Hamdan in spooling magical yardage as a result of their instant gift(ings) from the Bosses next to them on the sideline(s). This shall dictate the pace of this Rose Bowl.
The Huskies and Buckeyes defense have been on glacial opposite sides in terms of allowing such plays. The Huskies rank fourth in the nation in gains of 20-plus yards from scrimmage and are tops in college football giving up gains of 30-plus. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, ranks No. 96 in 20-plus yards surrendered; No. 117 in 30-plus; and No. 122 in 40-plus. (I refuse to repeat that for emphasis!).
Although Washington’s offense has not been for the most part steady, quarterback Jake Browning has big-play potential targets in wide receiver Ty Jones (16.8 yards per catch) and recently returned tight end Hunter Bryant (26.7 yards per catch). Both harmonize alongside the steady Aaron Fuller in the passing game.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has made a habit of rolling up long gains — including against defenses that don’t often surrender them, as was the case vs. TTUN. The Washington secondary of Taylor Rapp, Jojo McIntosh, Byron Murphy, Jordan Miller, and Myles Bryant faces a tall task slowing Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon. All four posted more than 600 receiving yards for the Buckeyes in the 2018 season.
Combine all of this new founded-wealth of information with the dangerous run game of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, which will undoubtedly keep All-American linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven alert. The Buckeyes truly have the prospective of attacking the Huskies like they have not been thus far in the 2018 season.
3. Similarities – though not!
On the face, The Buckeyes and the Huskies couldn’t be any more different outwardly in their accomplishments and failures throughout 2018. However, both surged to conference championships with surprisingly similar statistical outputs.
Ohio State’s offense, behind Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Dwayne Haskins, dominated time of possession at 32:28 per game, despite a quick-strike style that averaged 6.6 yards per play. Washington also owned time of possession at 32:08, employing a more methodical approach — and yet, still accrued 5.8 yards per play.
Chase Young, Dre’Mont Jones, Tuf Borland and Pete Werner all individually tallied more tackles for a loss than Washington’s leader in that category, Rapp. Ohio State used its annoying blitzing defense to produce 23 takeaways. The Huskies took a significant step backward in tackles for a loss and sacks racked up this season, with Pete Kwiatkowski sharing coordinating duties with Jimmy Lake, but Washington still generated 20 turnovers.
Different approach, similar ends.
Both Ohio State and Washington kicked off 2018 frequently mentioned in the College Football Playoff conversation. The Buckeyes missing the field as Big Ten champions for a second consecutive season might radiate with a presentation of disenchantment over their Rose Bowl excursion, but appearances in the historic game have been ephemeral for the “Program.” Motivation should be absolutely no issue for the Buckeyes.
Washington’s season endured more on-field ups and downs …. though the Huskies did hit their “moment” the final month of the season. This is of no coincidence either, Washington was of the closest to full strength it had been in the entire season with the returns of Hunter Bryant, D.J. Beavers and Trey Adams to the lineup.
Chris Petersen, if give only a few more weeks to prepare, would ruffle the Buckeyes, he is good, smart, and daring. The Buckeyes have more difference-makers on offense than any opponent Washington’s outstanding defense has faced this season – that’s the difference they now face. Don’t, if you lean towards the Huskies, allow that to deter what you think, feel, or predict in this Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes can go cold. They proved that against Purdue, Nebraska, and Maryland. But, thoughts are bountiful throughout my noggin at this moment, it’s Urban’s last one as a Buckeye Head Coach (or coach period). I just don’t see a defeat …. Plain and simple.
I have seen predictions ranging from the Buckeyes winning by ten, three, even nine. But no more. This one is being predicted with caution, and perhaps justifiably. I, in the seed of my solitude, see differently. I see Haskins having “another” big game, along with “fantastic” production from Dobbins and Weber, and even a Jekyll and Hyde defense delivering a stingy summation, and Urban allowing Day to go “guns-and-roses” to solidify the “elite” status he has bestowed upon him.
Look for the Buckeyes to crush the Huskies. I see something more in the neighborhood of The Ohio State University Buckeyes – 55; Washington Huskies – 16
How’s that for unpredictability?