Ohio State (12-1) is the favorite against Washington (10-3) at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday (January 1, 2019, 17:00ET).
The betting line was first listed at -7.0 points for the Buckeyes. They’ve gone a comforting 11-1 SU as favorites this year, and 5-7-0 against the spread. The Huskies are 1-1 straight up as underdogs, and 1-1-0 against the spread.
Ohio State would be a Playoff team if they hadn’t lost a bizarre game to Purdue in mid-season. They were 11-1 in the regular season, with commanding wins over Michigan, Michigan State, and a tight win over Penn State.
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins completed 70.2% of his passes this season for 4,580 yards and 47 touchdowns. Haskins was also a very deserving Heisman finalist, and measurably the most productive quarterback in the history of a conference that produced Drew Brees. Much will be made of the talent advantage Haskins had to work with, but JT Barrett, Braxton Miller, and Cardale Jones were all dealt the same hand. None of them were as successful as Haskins.
Happy #SpiralSaturday! ? (We may have just made that up.)
— Ohio State on BTN (@OhioStateOnBTN) December 8, 2018
It wasn’t even the case that Haskins was paired with an incredible running back. JK Dobbins was good if not great, gaining 1,277 yards from scrimmage. He only gained 4.6 yards per attempt on rushing plays, a number that falls well short of his incredible 2017 stat of 7.2.
The team stumbled, certainly, but were usually able to implement air-raid principles into an elite program the way coaches and nerds alike have long speculated is possible. Considering all the Urban Meyer-related flak the players had to deal with, what they achieved in 2018 is commendable.
The defense is still coached by Greg Schiano, which means that it will probably be fine but might give up 49 points to Purdue. There’s no way of knowing.
Chris Petersen has built a program that defies every Pac-12 stereotype you can lazily reach for. The line play is right up there with the best in the country. The most important player is a workhorse running back. The defense is among the stingiest you’ll find anywhere.
Jake Browning didn’t live up to the hype in his last season as a Husky. He passed for 2,879 yards and 16 touchdowns, completing 65% of his passes and earning a passing efficiency rating of 147.2. Those are fine numbers, but not what UW fans have come to expect from the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes.
Fortunately, UW didn’t need much more from Browning. Myles Gaskin ran for 1,029 yards (his fourth season over 1,000 yards) and 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. There’s a good argument to be made that Gaskin was among the best RB’s in the conference, even if his stats weren’t crazy.
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) November 24, 2018
The defense was the real highlight of this team, allowing a stifling 301.8 yards and 15.5 points per game. Ben Burr-Kirven won the conference’s Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award after recording 165 tackles in 2018. GReg Gaines recorded 5 sacks. Two of the first team all-conference defensive backs (Byron Murphy and Taylor Rapp) are Huskies.
Washington put together another great team in 2018, and came up just short of the Playoff. Seeing them in action against Ohio State is appointment television.
This game will feature at least two truly excellent units, the Ohio State offense and the Washington defense. That unstoppable force/immovable object dynamic makes betting the over/under difficult, but crucially important. The total for this game is currently set at 58.0, and how you feel about that line will likely decide the game. Consider parlaying an over/under bet with the corresponding spread pick.
I like the spread here, since Washington is an excellent team and Ohio State is transitioning to a new head coach and has bigger things to worry about than the 2018 Rose Bowl.