Rose Bowl: Washington Huskies vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-6)
Tue., Jan. 1, 5:00 p.m. ET in Pasadena, CA
1. While the Rose Bowl is as storied of a game as there is, Urban Meyer’s final game as head coach of Ohio State will be the headline grabber here. Meyer is one of the best—and most controversial—coaches in the history of college football, and the news that he is leaving Ohio State is an enormous story. The Buckeyes are seemingly in good hands with up-and-coming star Ryan Day, but it’s hard to imagine any team losing Meyer and being immediately better off. Meyer will still be coaching this game, and that is big for the Buckeyes and bad news for the Huskies. Chris Petersen is an incredible coach in his own right, but Meyer has consistently gotten the job done both straight up and against the spread. In his coaching career, Meyer is 123-89 against the spread overall and 9-3 against the spread in bowl games. He has covered in four of the six bowl games he has coached for Ohio State.
2. Dwayne Haskins has emerged as a top NFL prospect at quarterback, as the sophomore has been lighting it up under center for the Buckeyes. In games against Michigan and Northwestern over the last two weeks, Haskins threw for 895 total yards with 11 touchdowns and only one pick. Those are two very good defenses he was going up against, and the performance against Michigan, specifically, shows that Haskins has what it takes to move effectively move the ball against Washington’s fifth-ranked FBS scoring defense. Haskins has a big arm, goes through all his progressions and has the athletic ability to make plays when things break down—which he has done more often in recent weeks. He has already racked up five of the six 400-yard passing games in Ohio State history, and he will be ready for everything that Washington throws at him. It helps that there is serious talent around him, as the Buckeyes are loaded in the backfield and at wide receiver.
3. Ohio State’s defense has had its issues this season, but this is the right matchup for a struggling unit like this one. In Jake Browning, the Huskies have a quarterback that isn’t looking to make big plays. He is more of a game manager, and he’s perfectly fine with taking a backseat to star running back Myles Gaskin. Usually the defense is carrying the load for this team anyway. But that isn’t something that Washington can bank on here. The Buckeyes are going to be scoring points in this one, so there will be legitimate pressure on Washington’s offense. Despite the fact that Nick Bosa is no longer with Ohio State, the team still has some talent along the defensive line. That unit hasn’t defended the run well this year, but that should change with extra time to prepare. Either way, with the way the Buckeyes play on offense, the Huskies are going to need their passing game to really get it going here. It’s hard to imagine that happening. This came should end in a comfortable Ohio State win.
Pick: Ohio State (-6)
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)