New Year’s Day is traditionally a big day for college football and New Year’s 2019 will be no different. Four of the biggest bowl games in the sport will be played that day, including the “Granddaddy Of Them All”, the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, California. This year, the Rose Bowl returns to its original tradition as the Big Ten champion Ohio State Buckeyes meet the Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies.
Spread: Ohio State -6.5
Ohio State missed out on the playoff for the second year in a row, but this season they are a little extra motivated going into the bowl game as it will be Urban Meyer’s last as head coach. Heisman finalist Dwayne Haskins led the way for Ohio State this season, completing 70 percent of his passes for over 4,500 yards with 47 touchdowns. Haskins season was historic, setting marks for both passing yards and touchdowns in program and Big Ten history in a single-season. He got plenty of help from his backfield mates, running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, who combined to run for over 1,800 yards with 14 touchdowns. All of those numbers combined to make the Buckeyes one of the top offenses in the nation, capable of putting up points in a hurry.
That was a good thing because the defense struggled with giving up big plays this year checking in at 119th in the IsoPPP metric (1.34). The loss of defensive end Nick Bosa early in the year hurt, but it was the secondary that was the real problem, ranking near the bottom of the country in most passing categories.
That is good news for Huskies quarterback Jake Browning who had a down year in his senior season throwing for 2,800 yards and 16 touchdowns both career lows. However, Browning’s backfield mate, running back Myles Gaskin, was his normal excellent self. Gaskin posted his fourth straight season with over 1,100 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in helping lead the Huskies to a 10-3 record and Pac-12 championship.
On the defensive side, the Huskies are built to match the Buckeyes strength in the passing game as they finished with one of the best units in Passing S&P+. However, they did allow opponents to complete a high percentage of their passes (64.7%) which plays right into Haskins’ hands. Linebacker Ben Burr-Kiven (123 tackles) is the heart-and-soul of the unit.
Ohio State was just 5-7 this year as favorites against the spread while the Huskies were 1-1 when underdogs this year. The game really comes down to whether or not you believe the Huskies defense can slow down the Buckeyes offense enough to keep it close. I do, and that’s why I’m taking the Huskies not to win, but to cover. Washington +6.5; Under 56.5
Local Expert Take: Kevin Cuenca, CBS 2
“12-1 Ohio State facing a 3-loss Washington Huskies squad. The Buckeyes narrowly missed out on making it in to the College Football Playoff. Some squads facing that predicament would not give their best efforts in a bowl game, but this group for the Buckeyes has to be motivated. They are playing in Urban Meyer’s final game as head coach at Ohio State. I expect them to come out determined and take this Rose Bowl.”