PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – CJ Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba put in a record-breaking passing performance during one of the biggest offensive days in Ohio State history.
The Buckeyes still barely did enough to stand up to the tough Utah and their backup quarterback in a spectacular Rose Bowl.
Stroud capped his record-breaking offensive day by leading a 56-yard run ending in Noah Ruggles’ 19-yard basket with nine seconds left, and the No. 7 Ohio State beat the No. 10 Utah 48-45 on Saturday night in the wild 108th Annual Rose Bowl.
Stroud clocked a school record 573 yards and a record six touchdowns for the Buckeyes (11-2), who won All’s Grandpa for the second time in four years while also breaking a long-standing offensive record after the other. Stroud’s passing yards and touchdowns are both Rose Bowl records, and he finished within 3 yards of the passing yard record in any bowl game.
“It’s touching for me,” said Stroud, from nearby Rancho Cucamonga. “It’s like I’m dreaming right now. I was able to come home and win the Rose Bowl like that. … It’s the Rose Bowl, man. This is where the legendary games are played.
Ohio State created a few other legends on this trip.
Smith-Njigba set the record for any FBS bowl game with 347 receiving yards while catching a school record of 15 assists and scoring three touchdowns. Marvin Harrison Jr. also caught three touchdown passes for the Buckeyes, who set a Rose Bowl and school record with 683 total yards.
Still, the Buckeyes were the ones who played from behind for almost all of the first three quarters and more at Arroyo Seco until they invoked the will for three scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
“Our team is built on combat,” said Smith-Njigba. “It doesn’t matter if we’re up, down. We were down in the first half, but we just had to keep a cool head and keep fighting. “
Ohio State had to rally 10 points late in the third quarter to overtake the Pac-12 Utes champion (10-4), who had an electrifying 35-point first half on their first school’s maiden trip. at the Rose Bowl. They even remained competitive after star quarterback Cameron Rising injured himself as he was sacked with 9:56 to go.
The Utes had to turn to replacement Bryson Barnes, who grew up on a pig farm in central Utah and had never thrown a college pass. He led them on an endearing road, capped by a 15 yard TD pass at Dalton Kincaid with 1:54 left.
Stroud calmly pushed the Buckeyes back down the field within seconds, and Ruggles hit his easy basket. Ohio State kicked off Britain Covey, who had already had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown earlier, but the Buckeyes stifled his cut as time went on.
“All we needed was 30 more seconds, if that was the case,” Barnes said. “Get off the field, tie it up and head over to OT. But we didn’t have enough time. … A lot of guys are sad, but there isn’t much to think about. We went through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, but we made Utah football history today. “
In front of a noisy crowd dominated by Utah fans at the venerable stadium that opened in October 1922, the schools tied the 2012 Oregon-Wisconsin game for the most significant first half in Rose history. Bowl, combining 42 points and 443 yards in the second quarter alone.
Ohio State trailed 38-31 early in the fourth quarter despite the pyrotechnics of his passing game, but the Buckeyes immediately stopped Utah on the downs at Ohio State 31, and tied him on Harrison’s 5-yard touchdown 10:12 am left. After Rising’s injury, Smith-Njigba landed a 30-yard over-the-shoulder catch for his third touchdown with 4:22 remaining.
“Going into the second half and playing like we did says a lot about this team,” said Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who earned his second victory in a bowl. “We were shorthanded, and the fact that we were reacting the way we did at half-time says a lot about the character of this team.”
Rising had 214 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 92 yards and a score while leading the Utes to a 35-21 halftime lead, but left the game with an apparent head injury. . Utah played without three of its top four cornerbacks, even forcing running back Micah Bernard to take on the role of defensive back for the first time since high school.
“At some point we have to play defense,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We didn’t play very well all night on defense. It was not our habit. Not sure we can stop.
With the removal of two of the Buckeyes’ top receivers, Smith-Njigba had a milestone day that included 50 and 52-yard TD receptions 30 seconds apart – albeit with Covey’s TD return in between. .
He broke Cris Carter’s 1985 school record by 172 yards receiving in a bowl game in the first half only. He broke Keyshawn Johnson’s 1996 Rose Bowl record of 216 receiving yards, then Terry Glenn’s 1995 school one-game record of 253 yards after halftime. Smith-Njigba finished his season with 1,606 yards, surpassing David Boston’s school record in 1998.
THE STRENGTH OF THE OLD MAN
24-year-old Covey’s sensational 97-yard run through the Buckeyes’ cover unit was the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Utah bowl history. Covey, who also caught a 19-yard touchdown pass for the Utes’ first points, arrived at the school in 2015.
The Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan in November knocked them out of the national title picture, four key starters chose to preserve their health for the NFL Draft: Receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, starting left tackle Nicholas Petit- Brother and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett.
Take it away
Ohio State: A victory in Pasadena is never taken for granted by a Big Ten powerhouse. The Buckeyes overcame the instinct for relaxation after the death of their national title dreams, and they put on a performance that showed Day’s schedule had tenacity.
Utah: The Utes were woefully close to their third New Years Six victory during their transformation in two decades from an average outperform to an elite Power 5 program. Despite the loss, their fight was impressive and their size was impressive. of their traveling fan base confirm that Utah has arrived.
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