The Pac-12 champion Huskies and the Big Ten champion Buckeyes will meet in the Rose Bowl for the first time.
This is what the Rose Bowl is all about: The Washington Huskies, champions of the Pac-12, and the Ohio State Buckeyes, champions of the Big Ten, are set for a classic New Year’s Day matchup in Pasadena, Calif.
The Huskies (10-3) earned their first Rose Bowl berth since the 2000 season with a 10-3 victory over Utah in Friday’s Pac-12 championship game. The New Year’s pairing became official when Ohio State (12-1) was left out of the four-team College Football Playoff announced Sunday morning.
This will be Washington’s 15th appearance in the Rose Bowl, dating to 1924. The Huskies are 7-6-1 in the Rose Bowl.
“Can’t say enough about our guys. They battled all year and ended up right where we hoped to be,” UW coach Chris Petersen said Sunday. “It’s a really awesome team in a big-time game that has so much history with this school and this program, and we’re thrilled to be going back.”
It will be the first time Washington and Ohio State play in a bowl game, and their first meeting since 2007. Ohio State leads the all-time series 8-3. (UW and Ohio State have a home-and-home series scheduled for 2024-25.)
The 105th Rose Bowl will feature a top-10 offense from Ohio State (43.5 points per game) and a top-10 defense from Washington (15.5 points allowed).
“This is where this program belongs,” UW senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven said after the Pac-12 championship game. “We know this is what this program is supposed to be doing … and it’s really exciting to take this place back to where it belongs and give something to the fans.”
Petersen and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer will be coaching in the Rose Bowl game for the first time.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the Rose Bowl,” Meyer said in a conference call Sunday. “I know our players are very excited about it, to play in the historic Rose Bowl. We’re all excited to go do it.”
The Huskies, making their first Rose Bowl appearance since knocking off Drew Brees and Purdue on New Year’s Day 2001, have won at least 10 games in three consecutive season for the first time in program history.
This is the third consecutive New Year’s Six bowl for the Huskies, who won the Pac-12 championship in 2016 and advanced to the College Football Playoff against No. 1 Alabama. Last year, they were selected for the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. UW went 0-2 in those games.
“I always think these things are like a cumulative effect,” Petersen said. “That’s why I’m proud of these kids. This isn’t like a one-time thing. These guys are getting us to big-time bowl games, and that’s when you can kind of say something about your program, that this isn’t just a one-time thing. … That’s why we all came here to Washington.
In the final AP Top 25 poll of the regular season, the Huskies moved up to No. 9 on Sunday morning. They are also No. 9 in the final CFP committee rankings.
Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 5 in the AP poll after its 45-24 victory over Northwestern in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game. The Buckeyes held at No. 6 in the CFP rankings.
Washington was the only Pac-12 team selected for one of the prestigious New Year’s Six bowl games. Washington State (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) finished No. 13 in the CFP rankings, one spot out of a New Year’s bowl bid.
On Sunday, Petersen was asked about Washington State and the general perception of the Pac-12.
“Like all that stuff, it’s hard. Washington State, they’re a heck of a team. They really are,” he said. “That’s why I’m proud of this team, because the only thing we can control is — you win your league and you know what’s going to happen. And that’s all you can worry about — what you can control. The rest is just a bunch of noise and frustration.
“I mean, we play in a Pac-12 championship game with two elite defenses, and everybody’s down on that. But yet a couple years ago I know there was a couple teams in the SEC playing a 9-6 game and it’s like, ‘This is a tough conference with great defense, and this is how it should be.’ But not (the same reaction) down here for us. You can’t worry about that stuff. You’ve just got to go play and do your thing and try to control what you can control.”
Ohio State’s lone loss this season came at Purdue 49-20 on Oct. 20. Petersen said he has not yet had an opportunity to study the Buckeyes on film.
“No one’s seen tape on Ohio State,” he said, “and you don’t really need to know how good they’re going to be.”
Petersen said he has a “real close” relationship with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Not long after coming to UW five years ago, Petersen said he went to Columbus, Ohio, to spend a few days with Meyer.
“He was awesome to me. Really appreciate him and the job he’s done,” Petersen said.
Petersen praised his own team for getting to the Rose Bowl after what he called a “rocky” season. The Huskies rebounded from two league losses in October to win all four of their November games and claim their second Pac-12 title in three years.
“It was definitely a grind. We definitely underachieved in a lot of places. We lost games we probably shouldn’t have lost,” Burr-Kirven said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to play in the biggest college football game in America, the most recognizable bowl game you could ever be in. So I don’t think we can complain.”