#9 Washington (10-3) vs. #6 Ohio State (12-1)
Tuesday, January 1st @ 2:00 p.m. PST
Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena, California)
Line: Ohio State -6.5
Radio: KOMO AM-1000/FM-97.7
Earlier this month, the Huskies culminated their season with a 10-3 Pac-12 Championship victory over the Utah Utes.
This week, the Huskies enter the Rose Bowl matchup as true underdogs against the Buckeyes from the Big Ten Conference.
With a win, the Huskies would finally achieve a huge victory on the grand stage and earn themselves some respect on the national scale.
“Can’t say enough about our guys. They battled all year and ended up right where we hoped to be. It’s a really awesome team in a big-time game that has so much history with this school and this program, and we’re thrilled to be going back.” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said earlier this month.
This year, the Rose Bowl game returns back to its traditional matchup between the Pac-12 Conference and the Big Ten Conference.
Offensively, the Buckeyes are a juggernaut and come into this game with the #2 ranked offense in the nation.
Defensively, the Huskies enter this game with the top ranked defense in the Pac-12 conference and the #6 ranked scoring defense in the nation.
Something has to give in this contest between the high-octane Buckeyes offense and the stout and stingy Husky defense.
KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON
QB – Jake Browning
Jake Browning is a four-year starter for the Huskies who finished with 2,879 yards passing and 16 TD’s on the season. Browning is at his best when the Husky offense is balanced, and he finds open passing lanes to throw into.
RB – Myles Gaskin
Myles Gaskin returned to the Husky backfield a few games ago and since then, he has notched three games of 135 yards or more rushing. Gaskin is the heart and soul of the Husky offense and it all starts with him.
LB – Ben Burr-Kirven
Ben Burr-Kirven was named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given to the most outstanding defensive player in college football. He has notched 165 total tackles on the season thus far which is remarkable.
KEY PLAYERS: OHIO STATE
QB – Dwayne Haskins
Dwayne Haskins is a sophomore who had 47 total touchdowns which leads the nation and was a Heisman Trophy candidate this season. The dual threat quarterback is an electric athlete.
RB – J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins is a sophomore who is the only player in Buckeyes history to record 1,000 yard rushing seasons during freshman and sophomore campaigns. He is a very talented and efficient running back.
DT – Dre’Mont Jones
Dre’Mont Jones is a junior who has recorded 13.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks this season. Jones is a relentless and physical force on the line and tough to block.
ESPN MATCHUP PREDICTOR
• Quarterback Jake Browning has started and played in 52 out of a possible 53 games during his career. He is 39-13 (.750) in those 52 games. His win total is more than any other Pac-12 starting quarterback and 16 more than the next highest Huskies (Steve Pelluer and Brock Huard). His 52 starts are 12 more than the next closest Husky, Jake Locker, who started 40 games from 2007-10.
•Ben Burr-Kirven is currently ranked 25th in Pac-12 single-season history with 165 tackles. For perspective, no player has cracked the Conference’s top-25 list in nearly 30 years. Washington’s James Clifford was the last player to add his name to the top-25 tackling performances in a season, recording 168 stops in 1989.
•UW is 35-8 over its last 43 games.
• Washington hasn’t allowed a team to score 40 points in its last 57 games and, during that same span, has allowed over 30 only four times. Over those 57 games, UW has outscored opponents, 1,916-995
• UW’s defense has allowed just nine scrimmage plays of 30 or more yards (tied for fewest in the nation) and just one of 40 or more, fewest in the FBS.
• For the first time since 1995, the Huskies didn’t have a true freshman play in their season opener. No true freshmen have played more than four games this season.
• In seniors Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin, the Huskies boast the most prolific, active quarterback-running back tandem in the nation, in terms of career statistics, both yardage and scoring. Gaskin ranks No. 3 in Pac-12 history in both rushing yards (5,202) and rushing TDs (55), while Browning is sixth in Pac-12 history in passing yards (11,983) and touchdown passes (94). Both of them are true seniors who have spent the last four seasons in the same backfield during one of the most successful runs in UW football history, as the Huskies have gone 39-14 over those four years. Browning, with 39 wins as a starting QB, has won more games than any starting quarterback in the history of the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Gaskin’s stats are so prolific that several of his records seem unlikely to be approached for a very long time. He’s the first Pac-12 player in history (and 10th in FBS history) to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. His 5,202 career rushing yards are more than 1,000 more than former UW record-holder Napoleon Kaufman, who sat atop the Husky rushing chart for 24 years. Gaskin’s 60 career touchdowns (he has five receiving TDs to go with his 55 rushing scores) are 22 more than the next-closest Husky (Bishop Sankey, with 38).
The Huskies are facing their toughest opponent of the season so far in the Ohio State Buckeyes. What Washington has going for them is an elite defense that can shut down anybody they play. The Buckeyes boast one of the top offenses in the nation led by sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins. The Huskies will find themselves down early in this game but will finally settle in during the second quarter like they always do. At the half, the Huskies will only be down 3 points and in striking distance of winning the game. In the second half, the Huskies will make a run but it won’t be enough to match the Buckeyes on the scoreboard. The defense will play sound assignment football and keep the game within reach. The Husky offense will not be able to put up enough points to match the Buckeyes. The story all season long has been the Huskies inability to consistently put points up on the scoreboard. In the end, the Huskies put up a valiant effort but it just won’t be enough.
Ohio State 34 – Washington 23