Gameday+ | Keys to the Rose Bowl

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra

Manage emotions

The Buckeyes want to send Urban Meyer and their departing players out the right way, so motivation won’t be a problem. But that has to be channeled correctly. Add in the pageantry of the Rose Bowl, which used to be the pinnacle for Ohio State and still is treasured, and emotions will be running high. The quicker it becomes just another football game, the better.

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Be sharp in the passing game

Washington’s secondary is formidable, with several future NFL draft picks led by cornerback Byron Murphy. Ohio State had its way with Michigan’s defensive backfield, but the Wolverines played man coverage and didn’t have the speed to keep up with Buckeyes receivers. Washington will be more of a challenge. The Huskies’ pass rush isn’t elite, which should give Dwayne Haskins Jr. time to throw. His accuracy has been a strength this season, and it will need to be against Washington.

Prevent big plays

Washington’s offense is more methodical than explosive, but that hasn’t mattered a whole lot against Ohio State’s defense. Backup running backs have broken big plays just like star runners have against the Buckeyes. Myles Gaskin is a talented running back and he can do damage if Ohio State doesn’t fill its gaps properly. Jake Browning doesn’t have a huge arm, but his experience and football smarts will allow him to see and exploit holes in the Buckeyes defense if it isn’t sharp.

Win the red zone

Washington has struggled to score touchdowns when it gets inside its opponents’ 20-yard line. The Huskies have done so on only 32 of 59 trips (54 percent). The Buckeyes have struggled to stop opponents from scoring inside the 20, giving up touchdowns 67 percent of the time in those situations. If Ohio State can force the Huskies to attempt field goals — which have been no sure thing for Washington — that could be a major factor.