No. 11 Utah (10-3) vs. No. 6 Ohio State (10-2)
- Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m. MST
- Venue: Rose Bowl Stadium (92,542 capacity)
- TV: ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe, Tiffany Blackmon)
- Livestream: WatchESPN
- Radio: ESPN 700 AM (Utah broadcast), ESPN Radio (national broadcast)
- Series: Ohio State leads 1-0
- Weather: Sunny with temperatures in the high 50s at kickoff
For Ohio State: With a trip to the Big Ten championship — and a likely College Football Playoff berth — on the line, the Buckeyes were beaten by Michigan for the first time since 2011, losing 42-27. It is the first time since 2016 that Ohio State did not win the Big Ten championship. With Michigan winning the conference championship game and going to the CFP, Ohio State was awarded the trip to the Rose Bowl as the next highest-ranked Big Ten team in the CFP rankings.
For Utah: Utah won its first-ever Pac-12 championship, beating Oregon 38-10 in the conference championship game to punch its first-ever ticket to the Rose Bowl. Utah is on a six-game winning streak.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The most intriguing matchup to watch on Saturday will be Utah’s secondary against Ohio State’s receivers.
Two of Ohio State’s best receivers, Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, have opted out of the game. Those two players combined for 1,994 of Ohio State’s 4,379 receiving yards.
Ohio State’s leading receiver, sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba, will play. He has 80 receptions, 1,259 receiving yards and six touchdowns this year. Smith-Njigba will definitely be targeted a lot in the Rose Bowl.
The Buckeyes will replace Olave and Wilson with the No. 1 receivers from the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes, sophomore Julian Fleming and freshman Emeka Egbuka, plus the son of Hall-of-Famer Marvin Harrison, freshman Marvin Harrison Jr.
Clark Phillips III will likely cover Njigba, but Utah is thin at the other cornerback spot. JaTravis Broughton, Faybian Marks and Zemaiah Vaughn are all injured.
Freshman Caine Savage is listed as a backup at that cornerback spot. Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley also indicated that the Utes have been “experimenting” with players that don’t normally play at cornerback.
C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud will be the best quarterback the Utes have faced all season.
In his first season, Stroud finished fourth in Hesiman Trophy voting.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback was one of the best in the nation, throwing for 3,862 passing yards with 38 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Though he won’t have some of his best receivers in Olave and Wilson, Stroud and the backup wide receivers, along with Smith-Njigba, will certainly be a challenge for Utah’s secondary.
“Their offense is terrific. Outstanding players across the board. One of the most explosive offenses in the country. Quarterback is tremendous, leading the nation in QB rating, which is the statistical analytic by ESPN, which in my opinion is the most accurate barometer of how your guy is playing. Solid on defense. Just like I said, no weakness. They’ve got players at every level. They play hard, and they’re well coached.”
— Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham on Ohio State
“We have a great opponent and a tremendous amount of respect for coach (Kyle) Whittingham and his team and what they’ve done. We certainly know this is going to be ... a great game.”
— Ohio State head coach Ryan Day on Utah
Sept. 2 — Utah 40, Weber State 17
Sept. 11 — BYU 26, Utah 17
Sept. 18 — San Diego State 33, Utah 31 (3OT)
Sept. 25 — Utah 24, Washington State 13
Oct. 9 — Utah 42, USC 26
Oct. 16 — Utah 35, Arizona State 21
Oct. 23 — Oregon State 42, Utah 34
Oct. 30 — Utah 44, UCLA 24
Nov. 5 — Utah 52, Stanford 7
Nov. 13 — Utah 38, Arizona 29
Nov. 20 — Utah 37, Oregon 7
Nov. 26 — Utah 28, Colorado 13
Dec. 3 — Utah 38, Oregon 10 (Pac-12 championship game)
Jan. 1 — Rose Bowl vs. Ohio State (3 p.m., ESPN)
All times MT