2022 Rose Bowl: Ohio State Comes Back to Beat Utah

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2022 Rose Bowl

The 2022 Rose Bowl was one of the most dramatic games of the season, ending in a 48-45 win for Ohio State over Utah.

This was the first-ever Rose Bowl appearance for Utah, as the hopes of their first win in the game fell apart in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, Ohio State extended their Rose Bowl winning streak to four, a streak that goes back to 1997.

Utah started swinging, scoring on a Britain Covey touchdown reception and a Micah Bernard reception. The first quarter was all Utah, as Ohio State didn’t even have a first down until 1:23 remained in the quarter.

Ohio State scored to open the second quarter of the 2022 Rose Bowl, getting on the board with the first career touchdown for Marvin Harrison Jr.

The middle of the second quarter saw a deluge of touchdowns from both teams. In less than four minutes of gameplay, Utah scored two rushing touchdowns, C.J. Stroud had two 50-yard plays to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Covey scored on a kick return.

The halftime score was 35-21, favoring the underdog Utes.

Ohio State figured out what they were doing on defense, and kept the Utes to only 10 points in the second half.

Stroud had three more touchdown passes in the second half, and Ohio State took their first lead of the game late in the fourth quarter.

Utah wasn’t done, even with starting quarterback Cam Rising out for the game with an injury. Bryson Barnes came in and threw a touchdown pass to get the Utes level once again.

That left Stroud with 1:47 to try and get one more score. Emeka Egbuka helped with a generous kick return, and the Buckeyes got it down inside the five-yard line. Noah Ruggles made the short kick, and Ohio State took the lead with nine seconds left.

That was enough to cement Ohio State’s improbable 48-45 win. After an up-and-down game, the Buckeyes were crowned Champions of the 2021 Rose Bowl.

The Utah Running Game

Ohio State lost two games to rush-heavy teams already this season, and they found that the formula worked for them as well.

In the first half, Utah rushed for 6.6 yards per attempt against the worn-out Ohio State front. Utah dominated on the line of scrimmage, and Ute ball carriers broke tackles with ease.

But their rushing attack died in the second half. Ohio State made the defensive adjustments and stifled the Utes’ offense.

The Buckeyes held Utah to only 60 rushing yards on 19 attempts in the second half, averaging only three yards a carry.

Rising left the game in the fourth quarter, so Utah brought in Barnes, even though Barnes had never attempted a pass in college. With Barnes in the game, Ohio State knew runs were coming, and they stuffed the box and stopped the rush.

The Buckeyes were missing a lot of contributors on defense, which is part of why they were vulnerable. Cade Stover moved over from tight end to play linebacker, and he was one of the standout players of the game. Taron Vincent and Tommy Eichenberg were other players who had not had the majority of snaps throughout the year but helped turn the game around for the Buckeyes.

Buckeyes Setting Records

Just about the only thing going right for Ohio State was the Stroud-Smith-Njigba connection.

The two connected for 15 receptions, 347 yards, and three touchdowns.

Stroud became the first Ohio State quarterback to pass for 500 yards in a single game, and Smith-Njigba became the first Ohio State receiver to post 300 receiving yards in a single game.

For Smith-Njigba, that was the best game ever played by an Ohio State receiver in the history of the program.

He passed David Boston for the most receiving yards in a single season at Ohio State history. The record was 1,435, which was set by Boston in 1998. Smith-Njigba set the Rose Bowl record for receiving yards, passing Keyshawn Johnson.

Smith-Njigba also passed Terry Glenn for the most receiving yards in a single game in school history. Paris Campbell’s single-season receptions record also broke under Smith-Njigba’s dominating performance.

The final stat line for Smith-Njigba in 2021 was 95 receptions, 1,606 yards, and nine touchdowns.

His performance in the game merited the 2022 Rose Bowl MVP award.

Stroud became the second player in Ohio State history to pass for 4,000 yards, behind only Dwayne Haskins. Haskins not only holds the record for passing touchdowns at Ohio State but in the Big Ten as well. Stroud passed Justin Fields for second place on both the conference list and the Ohio State list.

Stroud ended the game going 37 of 46, for 573 yards and six touchdowns.