Ohio State vs Washington
January 1, 2019
Ohio State Rose Bowl insider
Left tackle Thayer Munford is out. Redshirt junior J oshua Alabi will make his first career start in the Rose Bowl.
That’s kind of exciting for the Detroit native, who signed with the Buckeyes as a defensive lineman in the Class of 2015 as the No. 555 recruit in the nation.
Alabi said he found out a few days before the Buckeyes left for California that he’d be playing for injured sophomore Munford, who started all 13 games at left tackle.
That means the Buckeyes will start two backups on the offensive line, with Alabi and right guard Wyatt Davis, who is in for Demetrius Knox, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Michigan game.
Alabi said he’s gained a connection with the rest of the line during these Rose Bowl practices.
Alabi did play in the Maryland game when Munford went out, and coaches praised that performance. So he’s prepared.
“I think I could have played better,” Alabi said, “but I think I held my own. I’m just looking forward to getting the first start of my career.
Husky tackle Jared Hilbers, who was injured in the Apple Cup and missed the Pac-12 championship game, should return for the Rose Bowl, said head coach Chris Petersen. The Huskies will also have left tackle Trey Adams, a preseason All-American who missed most of the season after undergoing back surgery.
The Huskies will vary their coverages, but their primary goal to prevent the deep ball.
Ohio State has 65 pass plays of at least 20 yards this season, which is tied for third in the nation.
Washington has only allowed 24 pass plays of 20 years or more, which ranks as fourth-best among defenses.
The Huskies are also the only defense in the nation to not allow a pass play of longer than 40 yards. Not a single one. The Buckeyes have hit 14 of them.
It’s an aggressive talented secondary, one that was ranked as the No. 2 secondary in the nation by national analyst Phil Steele before the season. Michigan was No. 1 on that secondary list, and we know how that went against the Buckeyes. In the advanced S+P ratings from FootballOutsiders.com, Washington ranks 19th in pass defense, is the ninth-best defense on passing downs and ranks third in overall defense behind Clemson and Michigan State.
“Washington really keeps things in front of them,” senior receiver Terry McLaurin said. “So when we have a chance to take big shots, we have to hit them.”
“Michigan didn’t really scare us,” Haskins said of the defense that was ranked No. 1 in the nation before facing the Buckeyes and giving up 62 points. “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.”
Three keys for the UW Huskies vs. Ohio State in the 105th Rose Bowl
Ohio State has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, led by QB Dwayne Haskins, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting earlier this month. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Haskins has thrown for a Big Ten-record 47 touchdown passes this season, with just eight interceptions, and the Buckeyes have nine players who have caught at least 19 passes this season. That makes this a premier matchup against a Washington secondary that ranks among the best in the country. Of course, as Haskins noted this week, the Buckeyes already carved up the nation’s No. 1 defense in a 62-39 drubbing of rival Michigan on Nov. 24. “You know, Michigan didn’t really scare us and other teams didn’t really scare us,” Haskins said, “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.”
The first player in Pac-12 history to have four 1,000-yard rushing seasons, Myles Gaskin has a chance to make even more history in the Rose Bowl. With 1,147 yards this season, he needs 53 more to join Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne as the only running backs in major-college football history to have four 1,200-yard seasons. And for the Huskies to upset Ohio State, they’ll almost certainly have to establish the run early and often — something they haven’t been able to do in losses to Alabama (29 carries for 44 yards) and Penn State (26 carries for 104 yards) in bowl-game losses the past two seasons.
The good news for UW’s ground game is Ohio State has been a middle-of-the-road defense against the run this season. And the Buckeyes have been particularly susceptible to long runs, allowing 23 runs of 20 yards or more and 15 runs of 30 yards or more. Among the 14 teams in the Big Ten, only Rutgers (with 16) has allowed more 30-yard runs. “I’ve never had long runs like this in my career,” Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “We’re going to have to do a good job this game because they’re going to get the ball into the secondary. They run the ball very effectively. They’re very patient (and) they have really good personnel.”
GET IN THE ZONE
The Huskies didn’t score an offensive touchdown in their 10-3 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship, and they rank among the worst teams in the FBS in red-zone touchdown rate. Once they get inside Ohio State’s 20, it’s imperative the Huskies turn those opportunities into touchdowns on Tuesday.
We’ve done some really good things this year on offense. The most important thing that’s been frustrating, I think, to all of us is haven’t scored the points that we think we’re capable of scoring.”
Ohio State 28, Washington 24.
Yes, Buckeyes have been vulnerable on defense, giving up 49 points in a loss at Purdue and 51 points in a one-point overtime win at Maryland.
But Ohio State’s offense just might be the best the Huskies have faced in Petersen’s five years at UW, and even keeping the Buckeyes to 30 points figures to be a hefty challenge. And yet, if the Huskies can get Gaskin going, and if the defense can come up with a key turnover or two — as it did in the Pac-12 title game — then they certainly have a shot closing on the biggest win of the Petersen era.