Well, folks, here we are. The last game of the season, and, thus, my last statistical projection.
The high-flying Buckeyes are in Pasadena for the “Granddaddy of Them All,” and they’re going up against one of the nation’s best defenses in the Washington Huskies.
January 1 – Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs Washington
This game starts off as most of us would dream. OSU drives and scores early and never really looks back from there. The game never gets out of hand. The Bucks maintain a 7-10 point margin for much of the contest before padding that further in the final period.
Dwayne Haskins goes out on top, breaking nearly every passing record for a single-season in OSU history and Ohio State caps off a brilliant year (that just had one major flaw) with a Rose Bowl victory.
Though there’s been no announcement, Dwayne Haskins is likely playing in his last game as a Buckeye. Despite following J.T. Barrett, who also recrafted the Buckeye record books, Haskins was able to absolutely demolish school passing records like no other before him. Prior to him taking the reins this season, Art Schlichter and Joe Germaine were the only two OSU QBs to throw for more than 365 yards in a game. Each Buckeye legend did it exactly once (458 and 378 yards, respectively). Dwayne Haskins, in his first, and likely only year as a starter, accomplished the feat six times.
So, what will he do in his last start for the Scarlet and Gray? My guess: the same thing that he’s done all year.
Washington, as Tom wrote this week and is linked in the opening paragraph, has a very formidable defense. They show a lot of different looks and are sure-tackling from their front to their safeties. They’ve had more games this year (2) in which they allowed less than 105 yards passing than those in which they gave more than 300. And yet, I’m confident that the Buckeye offense will again use the big stage, and the passing of the torch from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day, as a way to show just how explosive the offense can be.
Dwayne Haskins will methodically work the ball down the field for numerous long drives. He’ll frustrate the defense with his efficient passing and open the rushing lanes for his talented backfield mates. He’ll break 300 yards and toss three TDs, all to WRs that I do not believe will suit up as Buckeyes in the 2019 season. In addition, Meyer/Day will show some improved looks in their QB running game. Haskins will scramble for a few yards, but Tate Martell will see red zone action and punch in a short touchdown run.
Running Back Projections
As with most weeks, I’m not sure who gets the bulk of the carries in this contest. No matter the player, it’ll be tough-going against this strong Huskies’ defensive line. With that said, I think that the Buckeyes and their passing game wear on the defense, which will eventually lead to some momentum in the run game in the second half.
In his last OSU game, I’m going with Mike Weber as the Buckeye backer that does the most damage. I see him pounding through for some big gains late in the game, while Dobbins also moves the piles. Weber gets into the end zone for six, and the Buckeyes end with the highest rushing total against Washington this year.
Pass Catcher Projections
Not unlike the running backs, I think Haskins and the Buckeye pass catchers account for more passing yards against the Huskies than any other team they’ve faced all year. Three Buckeyes, likely playing in their last games, make touchdown grabs in this one. Parris Campbell, as he often does, takes a short toss from Haskins and leaves everyone in his dust as he scoots 40+ yards to pay dirt.
K.J. Hill and Johnnie Dixon also put in work. The latter catching a 26-yard TD pass while Hill earns himself a trip in to the paint as well. The receivers and tight ends put up 353 yards and go out with a bang in the 2018 season.
Washington’s somewhat vanilla offense will rely on Myles Gaskin. Gaskin is a talented running back who will attempt to move the chains and tire the Buckeye defense. They’ll also try to work in their speedy, dangerous back Salvon Ahmed. Ahmed fits the mold of those that have crushed OSU with big plays all year. Jake Browning, a Truman Administration commitment for the Huskies, can push the ball down the field with his arm and legs (running the ball, not some sort of crazy foot pass that Freddie Kitchens might draw up for Baker Mayfield next year).
It’s this offensive game plan that has me believing that two OSU linebackers will lead the team in tackles. They’ll constantly have to be on the watch for the run. Brendon White will be a factor in run (and short pass) stopping as well. Pete Werner, Dre’Mont Jones, Chase Young and Johnathon Cooper all get to Browning at some point for sacks. Jordan Fuller also comes away with an interception, as Browning likes to donate one pass a game to the other team.
Haskins throws three TDs and Weber smashes through for six. Tate Martell finds a gap in the defense for his own TD run. Blake Haubeil drills all five PATs and hits two field goals as well, scoring eleven.
Ohio State finishes an excellent season with a big win on one of the biggest college football stages.
Final Score Prediction
Ohio State 41 – Washington 27