Rose Bowl Game square dance: Ohio State vs. Washington

PASADENA, CA- Two of college football’s best are slated for a New Year’s Day showdown in Pasadena as Big Ten champion No. 6 Ohio State (12-1 overall) clashes with Pac-12 champion No. 9 Washington (10-3 overall) in the 105th Rose Bowl Game. The New Year marks each team’s 15th trip to the “Granddaddy of Them All.”

Petersen and Meyer reach the Rose Bowl

Both Washington head coach Chris Petersen and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will be making their first career Rose Bowl appearances. Meyer’s Rose Bowl debut signals the end of a decorated coaching career, one that has included three national championships and 30 consecutive conference wins. The third-winningest coach in college football history announced his retirement on Dec. 4, 2018.

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day takes over for Meyer as Ohio State’s head coach on Jan. 2, 2019. Day led the Buckeyes to a 3-0 record during Meyer’s suspension to start the season. He’ll become the 25th coach in Ohio State football history. Since Day’s arrival in 2017, Ohio State ranks second in FBS with 87 passing touchdowns.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said, “I think Ohio State is in great position. Coach Meyer has developed a tremendous culture, and Coach Day I know will put his stamp on it.”

Meyer is the top active FBS coach in terms of winning percentage (85.3 percent), but Petersen isn’t far behind. After collecting a 92-12 record through eight years at Boise State, Petersen has led Washington to three straight New Year’s Six bowls since taking over in 2014 and sits right behind Meyer in the record books with an 81.3 winning percentage.

The Ohio State offense

Ohio State enters as winners of the Big Ten for the second straight season, behind a nationally dominant offense. Led by Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins, the Buckeye offense holds averages of 548.8 total yards and 373 passing yards. Both statistics rank second in the country.

Ohio State also records over 43 points per game, good for eighth in FBS competition. Haskins leads the nation with 4,580 yards passing and 47 touchdowns, setting 20 Ohio State or Big Ten records in the process. The sophomore quarterback tossed 14 fourth-quarter touchdowns in 2018, which also ranks first nationally.

On the ground, Ohio State sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins became the first Buckeye to ever rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman and as a sophomore. Dobbins has gained 1,039 yards this season, after setting a school-freshman record 1,403 yards last year.

Out wide, three fifth-year senior co-captains fuel the Buckeye air raid. Parris Campbell (992 yards, 11 touchdowns), Terry McLaurin (669 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Johnnie Dixon (642 yards, seven touchdowns) lead a record breaking receiving core that caught 291 passes for 4,211 yards in 2018. Campbell, McLaurin and Dixon have each accounted for over 30 receptions and 35 touchdowns.

The Washington offense

Washington earned a Rose Bowl birth with a 10-3 Pac-12 Championship win against No. 19 Utah on Nov. 30, securing their second conference title in three years. Senior quarterback Jake Browning is UW’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown throws.

Browning, an all-conference selection, is one of just six Pac-12 players to acure 100 or more passing and rushing touchdowns during a career. His top target, junior receiver Aaron Fuller, has caught 51 passes for 794 yards.

Washington wideout Chico McClatcher (6) on the move against UCLA. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Washington senior running back Myles Gaskin is the first player in the history of Pac-12 football and only the 10th in FBS to rush for 1,000 yards in four seasons. Gaskin, a member of the 2018 All-Pac-12 Second Team, is Washington’s all-time leading rusher and has scampered for 1,147 yards this season.

Schiano said of Washington, “You know, they’re really good in several different position groups. I think the running back group is probably as good as we’ve seen.”

The Ohio State defense

Ohio State sophomore defensive end Chase Young has 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. The Buckeyes register 15th in the country with 93 tackles for losses and seventh in sacks, racking up 39.

Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said, “(They’ve) got elite pass rushers, which is expected in a game like this. And so top to bottom, their athleticism is tremendous.”

Junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones posted 13 tackles for loss this season and sacked quarterbacks 8.5 times. The Buckeyes’ leading tackler, junior linebacker Malik Harrison, accumulated 74.

The Washington defense

Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Ben Burr-Kirven leads the country in total tackles with 165, 12.6 per game. Burr-Kirven heads a sturdy Washington defense ranked 21 against the pass. Washington’s defense has only allowed nine touchdown passes this season, fourth best in FBS.

The Matchup

“It’s been 18 long years since the University of Washington has been here and we’re excited to be back,” Petersen said. Meyer added, “Our players know all about the Rose Bowl. They appreciate and respect the tradition of it.”

Ohio State has edged out Washington in eight of 11 regular season matchups, but the two programs have never met in the postseason.

“In all three phases, we’ll have to play our best,” Peterson said. “I think we have it in us, but we have to play our best.”

Washington has played in a different bowl game for the ninth straight season.

Schiano added, “There’s not a position group that you look at and say, ah, that’s a weakness. There really isn’t.”

The 2019 Rose Bowl will be Ohio State’s first trip to Pasadena since 2010, a 26-17 Buckeye victory over Oregon. Washington holds a 48-45-2 overall record against Big Ten opponents.

“We have to be able to run the ball, be efficient in the passing game, control the line of scrimmage and win the turnover battle,” Browning said.

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