Ohio State: 5 things I'd like to see from Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl
The Granddaddy of Them All welcomes Ohio State for the 15th time on New Year’s Day. That’s when the sixth-ranked Buckeyes (12-1) face No. 9 Washington (10-3) in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. (5 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN).
You might have heard that this is Urban Meyer’s last game as Ohio State coach. It was on the news, you know. Anyway, this is also the final game for a lot of seniors and for at least one NFL-bound junior.
So with that in mind here are 5 things I’d like to see from the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl:
There are seven seniors on the Buckeyes’ two-deep depth chart and 12 total on the roster (two others, K Sean Nuernberger and OL Demetrius Knox, are injured and not expected to play). Eleven OSU players have already graduated including WRs Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon (both sociology majors) and Terry McLaurin (communications). This is their final chance to wear the Scarlet and Gray — a few are hoping for one more solid game’s worth of film for NFL scouts to view, but most will take their first steps toward their post-football lives on Wednesday.
Haskins shows his stuff
Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins has set 12 single-season school records and four Big Ten records this season. The redshirt sophomore finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and leads the nation with 47 passing touchdowns. With 196 passing yards against Washington, Haskins would retake the FBS lead in passing yards which Washington State’s Gardner Minshew took over with his bowl performance. Since the NCAA began officially keeping track in 1937, no Buckeye has led the nation in passing yards.
To succeed, Haskins should rely on the slants and crossing patterns that have been so effective this season. He and offensive coordinator Ryan Day (more on him later) need to keep McLaurin, Campbell, Dixon and K.J. Hill all involved because Ohio State does not want to let Huskies All-American linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven wreck their offense. Burr-Kirven leads the nation with 165 tackles so he’s going to get involved regardless. But if he does so more downfield, after the Buckeyes have gained chunks of yardage, that will lead to a good day for OSU’s offense.
Day more in control
This will be the last game before Day takes over as Ohio State’s head coach. The 39-year-old has quite the task against’s Washington’s strong defense, which has three players named All-American by one service or another. But game planning should not be his only focus. He should be allowed to learn even more than he did during his three-game interim stint as the head coach when Urban Meyer was suspended to start the season. Meyer should relinquish some control to Day during Tuesday’s game. Which leads us to…
Meyer to relax
Is this even possible? For the sake of Meyer’s health, let’s hope so. Several times this season Meyer looked miserable on the sidelines even with OSU well ahead. If this is his last go-around, as he keeps insisting, then he should simply try to enjoy it. That’s especially true considering that this is the native Ohioan’s first and (again, so he says) only chance at coaching in the legendary Rose Bowl. Giving Day added responsibilities during the game would help both coaches and ease the transition which OSU faces in the offseason.