Urban Meyer is going out a Rose Bowl champion.
No. 6 Ohio State beat No. 9 Washington 28-23 in the Rose Bowl, giving the Buckeyes 13 wins in a season for the first time since they won the national title in 2014, and improving Meyer's career record to 187-32 overall and a mark of 12-3 in bowl games. It's the first time Meyer has won a Rose Bowl.
He can thank Dwayne Haskins for doing most of the work, both during the season and in this game. Haskins finished with 251 yards passing and three touchdowns, leading the Ohio State offense. The three TD passes gave Haskins a total of 50 on the season.
The final score is a bit misleading, as Ohio State led 28-3 after three quarters and seemed to have the game wrapped up. Washington mounted a furious comeback attempt, however, scoring three touchdowns in the final frame, cutting the lead to 28-23 in the final minute. Ohio State recovered the onside kick, though, putting an end to the game and Meyer's Ohio State career.
And as for the retirement, Meyer was asked about the chances of him reconsidering after the game, but said "I don't believe that's going to happen. I'm going to enjoy tonight. I don't believe I'm going to coach again."
Here are three takeaways from this Rose Bowl win.
1. This doesn't mean Ohio State deserved the playoff spot ahead of Oklahoma: It's an easy thing for fans to do. You watch two teams lose the semifinal games as they have to, and then you see a team that was left out win their bowl game, so the simple equation is the team that was left out should have been in. Well, I'm not sure how beating a 10-3 Washington team that lost 12-10 to Cal this season and wasn't even remotely considered for a playoff spot proves that Ohio State deserves one. The simple fact is, had Ohio State not lost to Purdue 49-20, it would have been in the playoff.
This was a season with three undefeated teams who weren't going to be left out, as well as a fourth that was too easy to ignore. That left one spot between three good teams, and of those three, Oklahoma's flaw was the best-looking. It had one loss by three points, and it avenged that loss by beating Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. Georgia had two losses. Ohio State's loss was by 29 points to a team that finished the regular season 6-6 (and then proceeded to get thumped 63-14 by Auburn in its bowl game). There was a thin margin of error allowed this season, and Ohio State missed out on it.
Yes, it finished the season playing its best football, but if it had played better over the first three quarters of the year, it would have been playing Alabama or Clemson last Saturday.
2. Dwayne Haskins will be the first QB drafted next spring if he goes pro. He hasn't officially made his decision yet, but most people expect he'll be leaving Ohio State to enter the NFL Draft. And he should. Haskins is plenty talented in his own right, but he's easily going to be the No. 1 rated QB in this draft class, which means he's going to go early in the first round. I'm not sure what he can return to Columbus for that would put him in a better position next season.
Not that Ohio State would mind if he did! While J.T. Barrett won a lot of games for the Buckeyes, there's no question that Haskins' ability as a passer opened up the Ohio State offense in a way we hadn't seen for a while.
3. Chris Petersen has work to do. Petersen has been at Washington five seasons, and in that time he's already won two Pac-12 titles, three division titles and earned a playoff berth in 2016. His Washington teams have won 42 games in the last three seasons.
But it's also a team that's still a tier below the nation's best, and that was evident during the Rose Bowl. During halftime, with the Buckeyes up 21-3, ESPN's Rece Davis commented that "there's only one way for Washington to close this gap: recruit."
Well, Washington closed the gap quite a bit, but Davis was still right.
We know Petersen is a great coach and can develop talent. He's been doing it his entire career, but he needs to start accumulating more talent if Washington's ever going to compete with teams like Ohio State on a regular basis. Right now, Washington is good enough to win the Pac-12, but it's not a team that can win a national title. That doesn't mean it can't be, but it's the reality of the current situation.
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