Utah makes its first Rose Bowl appearance as it meets Ohio State on New Year’s Day. The Buckeyes are still favored in the college football odds to win their second Rose Bowl in four years after Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, two of their top three receivers, were among four who opted not to play.
- Game: Utah Utes (10-3) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)
- Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
- Day/Time: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN
Utah vs Ohio State Betting Lines
|Utah||+4½ (-110)||+175||64 (-110o)|
|Ohio State||-4½ (-110)||-210||64 (-110u)|
Utes Seeing Scarlet Red as They Parade into Pasadena
Utah rides a six-game win streak after winning its first Pac-12 title with a 38-10 thrashing of Oregon in the championship game. The run started with a 44-24 triumph over UCLA at the Rose Bowl. The Utes were only a 3½-point favorite when betting online despite routing the Ducks 38-7 three weeks earlier in Salt Lake City. The total was 57 in the Pac-12 final. The Utes exceeded their projected win total under coach Kyle Whittingham, who is 11-3 in bowls. Utah should be motivated beyond belief to take down a national power and lift the Pac-12’s profile.
Players to Watch
Utah cleaned up on the defensive side of the ball when Pac-12 honors were announced. Junior linebacker Devin Lloyd was the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year while defensive tackle Junior Tafuna was the Freshman Defensive Player of the Year.
Sophomore quarterback Cameron Rising and sophomore running back Tavion Thomas were Pac-12 first-team picks. Rising tossed 18 touchdown passes while Thomas rushed for 20 scores. Junior return specialist Britain Covey was a first-team choice for the third time after returning two punts for TDs.
There are no major injuries to report pertaining to this game.
Fewer Buckeyes Have Eyes on the Prize
Ohio State’s offense took a big hit with the defection of Olave and Wilson. Olave was a Big Ten first-team selection after turning 13 of his 65 receptions into touchdowns. Wilson, a Big Ten second-team pick, had 70 catches and 12 TDs. The Buckeyes also took a hit on each line as defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (5½ sacks) and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere – both Big Ten first-teamers – also opted out.
Ohio State had its four-year run as Big Ten champion snapped when it lost its regular-season finale at Michigan 42-27. The Buckeyes led only once and were never covering as a 6½-point favorite in the Las Vegas odds. The game went over 63½ when the Wolverines scored the final points with 2 minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
Players to Watch
Freshman quarterback C.J. Stroud, a Big Ten first-team pick, threw 14 touchdown passes to those not named Olave or Wilson, including five to Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The junior led the team with 80 catches and 1,259 yards. Freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson, a Big Ten second-teamer, rushed for 1,165 yards and 15 TDs.
Coach Ryan Day said that junior running back Master Teague III (undisclosed injury) is expected to play. Teague, when healthy, has served as a backup, rushing 67 times for 355 yards and four touchdowns.
Betting on the Game
The defections of two elite Ohio State wide receivers, plus a pair of premier defensive players, helped cause the line to drop two points after it opened at 6½. The total decreased 1½ points after originally standing at 65½. A common opponent tells a story. Ohio State’s only loss before Michigan was to Oregon 35-28 at home in September.
Utah beat Oregon twice this season – once at home and once at a neutral site – a combined 76-17. Neither team stood out against the college football spreads with Ohio State going 6-5-1 and Utah 6-7. The Utes’ last three games have stayed under. Even without Olave and Wilson, the Buckeyes probably have enough firepower to gut out a close win.