The crowd was electric, as it was a game for ages. The 6th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes battled back and defeated the 10th ranked Utah Utes. It was business as usual for Ohio State, as they have played plenty of big games. On the other side, Utah appeared in their first rose bowl game and showed that they can go toe to toe against a powerhouse program.
Utah quarterback Cameron Rising came out firing on all cylinders as he threw two touchdown passes. The second touchdown was hauled in by running back Micah Bernard, who made a sensational grab and swiped his left foot in bounds. That score gave Utah an early 14-0 lead and shocked everyone. Ohio State would respond as quarterback C.J. Stroud hit Marvin Harrison Jr with a beautiful throw that led him into the end zone. That cut down the lead to 14-7 Utah. Utes running back Tavion Thomas would tally his 21st rushing touchdown as he could have walked into the end zone. The lead climbed to 21-7 in favor of Utah.
Stroud was not phased, being down by two scores as he targeted Jaxson Smith-Njigba for a touchdown pass. Ohio State would cut the lead to 21-14. The momentum quickly changed hands, Utah return man Britain Covey weaved his way past Ohio State defenders and ran the kickoff back 97-yards for a touchdown to give Utah a 28-14 lead. Fortunately for Ohio State, Stroud found Smith- Njiba across the middle, and he turned on the jets and scored to cut the lead to 28-21 Utah. Utah’s next possession Cameron Rising faked the handoff started to run, bounced off defenders and ran for a touchdown to widen their lead to 35-21. It continued to be a back and forth battle, as Stroud connected with Marvin Harrison Jr, who caught his second touchdown and cut the lead to 35-28. Utah would add a field goal, as would Ohio State. Heading into the fourth quarter, Utah was up 38-31.
C.J. Stroud would redeem himself, hitting Marvin Harrison Jr for a touchdown to tie the game at 38 and would take the lead after floating a pass to Smith-Njigba in the end zone. At that point, the score was 45-38 Ohio State. Utah would respond with a touchdown pass from their backup quarterback Bryson Barnes which tied the game at 45. Late in the game, Ohio State kicker Noah Riggles would kick a chip shot for the game-winner to give the Buckeyes a 48-45 win in an unforgettable rose bowl game.
Who needs Chris Olave or Garrett Wilson, it was the Jaxson Smith- Njigba show. Smith Njigba had 15 receptions, an eye-popping 347 receiving yards, and three touchdown catches. Quarterback C.J. Stroud finished his night with 37 completions out of 46 passing attempts, threw for 573 yards, and six touchdown passes. Ohio State ends their year on a great note, as they won 11 games. There is no doubt, this team will be even more dangerous next year.