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Urban Meyer wins final game as Ohio State head coach 28-23 over Washington in Rose Bowl

In Meyer’s only trip to Pasadena as head coach, his squad comes out victorious against the Pac-12 champs.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Ohio State vs Washington Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

If there was any fear of an Ohio State Buckeyes letdown in the Rose Bowl, it was squashed by the midway point of the first quarter. However, things got fraught in the second half, as the Huskies mounted an incredibly impressive comeback. In Urban Meyer’s final game as head coach of the Scarlet and Gray, the Buckeyes beat the Washington Huskies in the 105th edition of the Rose Bowl Game, 28-23.

Not only do the Bucks raise their second trophy in as many games, but more milestones were set in the process. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins eclipsed the 50 touchdown mark for a season with a goal line pass to Rashad Berry before halftime. Haskins ended the game with 251 yards on 25-of-37 passing, sprinkling three passing scores in the process. His scoring strikes to wide receivers Johnnie Dixon and Parris Campbell were across the middle of the field — and both were wide open.

Campbell ended the game with 11 receptions for 71 yards. With today’s output, the Buckeye reached the 1,000-yard mark receiving. He joins the likes of Cris Carter, David Boston, Malcolm Jenkins and Terry Glenn as WRs who pulled down a grand worth of yards in a season.

On the ground, the Buckeye backs broke the 100-yard mark. Mike Weber led OSU in carries with 15. The Detroit native ended with 96 yards for the game — averaging roughly 6.4 yards per pop. J.K. Dobbins had seven handles for 24 yards, and had a third quarter rushing TD from three yards out.

Washington’s defense gave up XX yards on the day. Entering the game, UW had the 12th best defense in the country, giving up 301.8 yards per game. However, they were missing their leader in sacks, safety Taylor Rapp, who was out with a suspected hip injury.

Ohio State got the ball to start the game. Things didn’t go as planned on that first drive. A three-and-out — involving a stuffed Dobbins rush, a busted screen, and a Haskins takedown at the line—gave the Dawgs possession on their own 30 following a 52-yard punt from Dru Chrisman. Like the Buckeyes, UW didn’t do anything either; they committed a three-and-out of their own.

On the first two possessions to open the game, both teams had six total plays for a combined -3 yards of offense.

Drive No. 2 worked better for OSU. Mike Weber charged ahead for a 14-yard rush up the middle for the game’s first first-down. After a Haskins scramble for a yard, Weber took another rush up the middle for 10 yards. The read-option with Haskins and Weber was doing damage to the Washington defense. After a DeMario McCall 9-yard rush on third down, the Buckeyes were faced with a fourth-and-1 from the UW31. Going back to the option, Weber got the handle, and took off for the sideline, gaining 19 yards. Two plays later, Haskins found a wide open Parris Campbell in the end zone for a touchdown.

In a little less than six minutes, we had our first score of the game.

Washington’s rebuttal drive was a lot like the first one: a three-and-out. They did manage to get 12 yards on a screen from QB Jake Browning to Andre Baccellia, but were a couple of yards short of the first down because of a false start on the previous play. The Huskies punted for the second time on New Year’s Day; this time, OSU started at their own 28.

Unlike the last Buckeye drive, this one went three-and-out. Mirroring the first drive, Haskins was brought down behind the line of scrimmage on third down.

Stopping the Dwayne Train again, the Huskies were able to convert their next drive into points. Although it took 11 plays to march 55 yards, Washington’s offense showed signs of life. They may have had a touchdown if it weren’t for consecutive penalties (a false start and holding) as they were approaching the OSU read zone. All that aside, Peyton Henry connected on a 39-yard field, bringing the score to 7-3 with 1:19 remaining in the first quarter.

Before the first quarter ended, Haskins had a 32-yard completion to Terry McLaurin on the near side of the field. By the start of the second quarter — and just four plays into their drive— the Buckeyes were on the UW44. Six plays later, they were in the end zone again, as Haskins zipped a pass over the middle to Johnnie Dixon from 19 yards out. For the second time already, the Buckeyes moved the ball 75 or more yards for a score.

To make matters worse for Washington, linebacker DJ Beavers left the game with an apparent leg injury. After the Buckeyes’ drive that put them up 14-3, Beavers was shown exiting the sideline on a cart.

Back with the ball on offense, the Huskies moved from their own 25 to the OSU48, but couldn’t do anything more than that. Browning picked up the passing attempts, throwing on six of their eight plays. Again, the Washington defense was forced to hold strong. The Buckeyes committed another three-and-out, but this was a little more understandable; they had to pick up an extra five yards following an Isaiah Prince false start.

With the score at 14-3, the Dawgs did more of the same on the next drive: move the ball (somewhat) while getting no points. A nine-play drive went 43 yards to the OSU37, but things eventually went belly up. However, on fourth-and-9, it looked like the Huskies were going to go for it; but, alas, Browning went into shotgun formation and pooch-kicked the ball 34 yards (!) to the OSU3.

Pinned at the deepest spot of the field for the half, Weber immediately went up the middle for 11 yards. Ohio State would get all the way to the UW38 before summoning Chrisman for a punt.

Just 1:21 remained on the clock, and instead of running the ball and taking it into halftime, the Huskies opted to pass the ball three times. After a 5-yard completion to Baccellia, Browning missed on two-straight passes. His third down throw was too far in front of his receiver, Aaron Fuller, who was wide open running across the middle. Browning was inconsistent all half, even though he had 109 yards on 16-of-25 passing.

Ohio State was given a gift — and made the most of it. Starting at their own 43, the Buckeyes got to the UW1 with 18 seconds left in the half. After burning a timeout, Ohio State faked a rush — showing a jumbo set — enabling Haskins to find a wide open Rashad Berry on the far side of the field.

At halftime, the Buckeyes were running away with the game as the shadows began to cast on the Rose Bowl. Below are some of the stats from the first 30 minutes of action.

Getting the ball to start the third quarter, Washington needed to cut into the deficit. Five-straight rushes with Myles Gaskin got them into Ohio State territory, and after a Salvon Ahmed 4-yard rush, the Huskies were in field goal range. But then Browning was sacked by Jashon Cornell, and Ahmed was stuffed by Davon Hamilton. Both those negative yardage plays pushed UW out of field goal range.

Ohio State wasted no time moving down the field on the opening drive of the half. Campbell picked up 19 on a reception, and K.J. Hill hauled in 45 yards on back-to-back receptions. Dobbins punched the ball in from the three — putting OSU up 28-3.

Now in absolute desperation time, Chris Petersen’s squad needed points, preferably of the TD variety. Gaskin found success on the ground early in the drive, and Browning was able to get short range passes completed. Washington eventually ended up on the fringe of the red zone when they had a fourth down. Needing just four yards from the OSU22, Petersen determined he needed to go for the touchdown. Rolling out on the throw, Browning went to the far sideline — targeting Aaron Fuller. His throw was deflected away by Jeffrey Okudah, who recorded his first pass breakup of the day with that stop.

The Ohio State offense, which had more good plays than bad up to this point, finally had a minor slip. Haskins was sacked by Levi Onwuzurike in an eventual three-and-out drive. To that point, it was the only sack allowed by the Buckeye line, which featured Joshua Alabi and Wyatt Davis in starting roles.

In the waning moments of the third quarter, UW got the ball back. Down 25, Browning began taking more shots down the field. He found Hunter Bryant for 24 yards on the sideline, and Fuller for 10 yards. At the start of the fourth quarter, Browning had his offense on the OSU41.

Following a suspect Brendon White defensive holding call, UW was on the OSU21. The Huskies chipped away at the yards needed for their first TD, eventually getting all the way down to the OSU2. Ohio State’s defense clamped down, stopping rushes and passes inside the 10. Petersen’s squad was faced with a fourth down from the two, and with a Tim Tebow-style jump-pass, entered the end zone for the first time of the game. They kicked the extra point, making the score 28-10 in favor of the Buckeyes.

It didn’t take long before Washington got the ball back after another three-and-out from the Buckeyes. Even getting five free yards after a UW offsides, the Bucks could not reach the first down marker — coming up four yards short.

Down 18, a touchdown was needed to make this game interesting down the home stretch. After busted coverage. Browning had a wide open Ahmed over the middle. However, Browning threw the ball too far behind him; if that ball would’ve been caught, the Huskies may have, instantaneously, been in field goal position at a minimum. The passing and receiving woes continued, as on third-and-6 from the OSU48, Browning found tight end Drew Sample.

Sample initially hauled the ball in, but a last second swipe by Brendon White forced the ball incomplete. On fourth down, the Buckeyes brought the house, and Browning threw the ball off-balanced and off-target.

Another turnover on downs was committed by the Pac-12 champs, but this one proved to be the final nail in the coffin, as there was less than 10 minutes left in the game. Washington came close to getting breaks on Ohio State’s next drive, as a deflection nearly led to an interception, and Chrisman had his punt partially blocked. However, these partial breaks didn’t materialize into anything too serious, as it was too little too late for the Seattle* school.

The Buckeyes end the season 13-1, and send Urban Meyer out into the Pasadena sunset with his first ever win in the “Granddaddy of Them All.”

*A previous version of this article placed UW in Spokane, but in our defense, the game was getting uncomfortably close when that was written, and our brain cells were working about as well as Ohio State’s offense and/or defense at that point.