Bet on Sports
How to bet on Sports
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7). (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire)
December 29th, 2021
The No. 11 Utah Utes will make their first appearance at the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, when they face the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes in the 108th edition of "The Granddaddy of Them All."
The Buckeyes (10-2) will play in their 16th Rose Bowl, where they are 8-7 all time.
Entering the 2021 regular season, Ohio State had its eye on a third straight College Football Playoff berth, but an embarrassing loss to Michigan — the Buckeyes' first defeat to their rival in a decade — caused the team to miss out on the Big Ten Championship Game for the first time since 2016.
Now Ohio State is left to play for a Rose Bowl title against a Pac-12 team that can wreak the same type of havoc Michigan did in Ohio State's final regular-season contest.
Although the Buckeyes are favored by 4.5 points, the team will be without several key players, who opted out to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft.
Chris Olave has opted out of the Rose Bowl and declared for the 2022 NFL Draft after a record-setting four-year career at Ohio State. https://t.co/rybHl8hW0p— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 27, 2021
Chris Olave has opted out of the Rose Bowl and declared for the 2022 NFL Draft after a record-setting four-year career at Ohio State. https://t.co/rybHl8hW0p
Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud, the Buckeyes' freshman quarterback, will compete without star receivers Chris Olave (936 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns) and Garrett Wilson (1,058 yards, 12 TDs), along with offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, all of whom declared for the NFL draft.
On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett is another opt-out, while cornerback Sevyn Banks is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
The Buckeyes still boast plenty of talent, including true freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson and sophomore wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but this high-powered offense, which ranked first in the nation in yards and points per game, will likely take a step back against Utah in light of so many absences.
Utah (10-3) is capable of defeating Ohio State in much the same way Michigan did, if the Utes can stuff the run and rack up yards on the ground, similar to Wolverines back Hassan Haskins (169 yards and five scores against the Buckeyes).
The Utes rank 13th in the country in total yards allowed (317.8), one spot below Michigan, and possess a stud running back in Tavion Thomas (1,041 yards, 20 TDs).
TAVION THOMAS FOUR 1ST HALF TDs#CFB pic.twitter.com/6wIYVnbyeS— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 6, 2021
TAVION THOMAS FOUR 1ST HALF TDs#CFB pic.twitter.com/6wIYVnbyeS
Utah's quarterback, Cameron Rising, can also run the ball (407 yards, five TDs), and backs TJ Pledger and Micah Bernard both average 5.9 or more yards per carry.
The Utes ranked first in the Pac-12 in rushing yards per contest (216.1) but were third to last in passing yards per game (212.5).
Ohio State's strength on defense is defending the run, which will present an interesting challenge for the Utes, who may need to rely on Rising's arm more often than usual in order to put up points.
The Utes will enter the Rose Bowl riding a six-win streak and a wave of momentum the Buckeyes are sorely lacking at the moment.
Add in the rumors that 17-year Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham may retire after this season, and the Utes have all the more reason to come out firing in their first Rose Bowl game.
Ohio State will be eager to wash away the bad taste of a loss to its Big Ten foe, but with a slew of star players missing from the lineup, the Buckeyes will face a much tougher fight.
The Utes will do their best impression of Michigan against a reeling Ohio State team and will cover as a 4.5-point dog.
Score prediction: Ohio State 31, Utah 27
Our predictive engine is calling for the score to go Under the projected total.
College Football National Championship Watch: Michigan, Georgia clear favorites
Heisman Trophy Odds Watch: Previewing second half of 2023 College Football Season
How do YouBet: Sports betting strategies with Jeremy Jones