Rose Bowl Recap: Points Fly In Pasadena As Ohio State Buckeyes Come Back To Beat The Utes, 48-45

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Tame expectations of a Rose Bowl matchup between the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 11 Utah Utes were met with a high-scoring contest. Led by a mighty connection between CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the Buckeyes beat the Utes, 48-45.

Ohio State’s defense, playing without Haskell Garrett (opt-out), had a slow start: giving up 14 points to the Utes in the first quarter. The first score was a 19-yard touchdown to Utah receiver Britain Covey, followed by a 12-yarder to Micah Bernard. OSU finally responded at the start of the second quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison, Jr.

The Buckeyes were missing receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson as opt-outs, along with offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere.

A 50-yard touchdown to Smith-Njigba inched OSU closer to Utah’s robust start, 21-14, but a 97-yard kickoff return by Covey and 62-yard rushing score by Utah quarterback Cameron Rising padded the Utes’ lead in Pasadena.

Utah built a 35-21 advantage over OSU leading into halftime.

Utes quarterback Cameron Rising nearly saw his team through the contest until he suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter. The QB hit the back of his helmet on the field as he attempted to extend a play disrupted by OSU’s defensive line. Rising exited with 214 passing yards (17-of-22) and three total touchdowns β€” also leading Utah’s rushing with 92 yards on 11 carries and a score.

Walk-on Bryson Barnes stepped in for Rising, throwing for 23 yards and a touchdown on 2-of-2 passing.

In Olave and Wilson’s absence was Jaxon Smith-Njigba: recording 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns. With 4:22 remaining in the game, Smith-Njigba caught a perfect pass by Stroud for 30 yards. The score put OSU up 45-38 and the receiver over the 300-yard mark. Smith-Njigba finished with the fifth-most receiving yards in a game in FBS history.

Bryson Barnes faced a vital drive with the remaining time. Two costly pass interference calls set the Utes up for a 15-yard score to Dalton Kincaid. Barnes was collected throughout. 45-45.

With roughly two minutes remaining, the Buckeyes faced a final drive to usurp the Utes. Stroud and company marched down the field to set up Noah Ruggles for a 19-yard game-winning field goal and put the game away with seconds left.

Capital One’s top performer’s honors went to Stroud, completing 37-of-46 passes for 573 yards, six passing touchdowns and an interception.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day lauded his resilient play-makers in the comeback win.

“Bunch of guys made a decision at halftime,” Day said in the post-game interview. “We talked about how a couple of years ago we were playing in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin and a bunch of guys in the locker room stood up and said we’re going to play better in the second half. That happened here. And for us to play how we did, down a bunch of guys in this game, builds unbelievable momentum for next year. … Great to send the seniors out the right way.”

When asked about his star quarterback, Day conveyed what made Stroud shine on Saturday.

“Guts. Grit.”

Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela

Written by Alejandro Avila


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