Ohio State plays in the Rose Bowl on Tuesday afternoon.
The game will mark the end of an era as Urban Meyer is set to retire from coaching after the sixth-ranked Buckeyes are done with the Pac 12 champion, a traditional matchup for the “Granddaddy of Them All.”
Here are five things to know about the game.
1. The Buckeyes’ opponent is No. 9 Washington.
Typically this is too obvious to include as a bullet point, but it was sometimes easy to forget in the lead-up to the 105th Rose Bowl because Ohio State brought so many huge storylines into the contest.
Aside from Meyer’s plan to pass the team on to offensive coordinator Ryan Day, everyone wants to know about whether or not this is the last college game for Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Who will be part of Day’s staff? Who will be moving on? What other Ohio State players might be ready to head to the NFL early, too?
Washington quarterback Jake Browning was not offended, though.
“It’s Urban Meyer’s last game, but it’s my last game, too,” the senior joked early in the week.
“I don’t feel overshadowed until I come to media and then keep being asked about being overshadowed. We’re still going to go to practice and work hard whether everybody says we’re the favorite or that we suck.”
2. Browning is Washington’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal-caller was once the next big thing for the Huskies, but he followed a stellar sophomore season with less impressive campaigns the last two years.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano suggested at least part of the explanation for going from 43 touchdown passes in 2016 when the Huskies made the College Football Playoff to 19 and 16, respectively, the last two seasons could be the loss of weapons such as current Cincinnati Bengals receiver John Ross.
»PREVIEW: Ohio State vs. Washington
“When you have a special year like they did back then, when you go to the playoff, a lot of things click, but when I look at him as a quarterback, he’s an outstanding quarterback,” Schiano said. “He understands their scheme very, very well. And he appears to really understand what defenses are doing.”
3. The Huskies like trick plays.
Maybe more specifically, these have always been a specialty of Washington head coach Chris Petersen going back to his days at Boise State.
The Buckeyes are well aware and plan to be on alert.
“I think generally you may want to go into a game and say, hey, we want to call one a half,” Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said. “Like any other play, it’s probably called two weeks in advance. You’ve got to have the right look (from the defense).”
4. Strength will face strength when Ohio State has the ball.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day and Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake both boasted of having systems that develop players for the pros.
Haskins has had the best passing season of any Big Ten quarterback in history while the Huskies are No. 19 against the pass and 21st in pass efficiency defense.
As far as advanced stats, Football Outsiders S&P+ rates Washington No. 11 against the run and No. 19 against the pass with the No. 9 defense in the country on passing downs.
“Tremendous challenge,” Haskins said. “Definitely see the All-Americans on the defense. (Safety Taylor) Rapp and (cornerback Byron) Murphy are really good players. You know, Michigan didn’t really scare us and other teams didn’t really scare us, so we’re not worried about what the verdict is as far as who people think is the best defense in the country because we feel like we’re the best offense in the country. Whoever we play, they are going to give their best shot. We know that, so we have to be ready to go play.”
5. All hands on deck.
While skipping bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft/avoid injury has become a trend across college football, Ohio State is expected to avoid it this year.
“I have my pros and my cons, of course, me not playing a high chance of getting hurt for the next level, but I thought to myself: I can’t do what everybody else wants me to do,” defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones said. “I know a lot of people in my family and corner didn’t want me to play in this game. I feel like I’m a person who loves football and love playing the game, and love playing with this group of guys.
“I couldn’t just let myself sit there and just watch. I wanted to play and finish what we started. We had a goal. I feel like if I was in the playoffs, I’d be playing, so why not play in the Rose Bowl.”
Last season, cornerback Denzel Ward did not play in the Buckeyes’ Cotton Bowl win over USC.