Dwayne Haskins, possibly bound for the NFL, tore up the UW defense as Ohio State opened up a 25-point lead on UW. But his 251-yard, three-touchdown performance was set up by another offensive contributor.
PASADENA, Calif. — Even with a dynamic quarterback who finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, Ohio State used two staples of Midwestern football to sabotage an opposing defense led by three All-Americans.
The sixth-ranked Buckeyes combined an effective running game with solid play from their offensive line to build a 25-point lead in the third quarter against ninth-ranked Washington before dispatching the Huskies, 28-23, Tuesday night in front of 91,853.
Dwayne Haskins, a redshirt sophomore considered one of the top prospects in April’s NFL draft should he choose to turn pro, threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns while completing 25 of 37 passes. But running back Mike Weber helped make Haskins’ success possible.
On his way to a 96-yard performance on 15 carries, Weber also played a pivotal role in the Buckeyes’ first two scoring drives, helping open up a 14-0, and eventual 28-3, margin.
In the first quarter, Weber ran for 52 of Ohio State’s 77 total yards during a series that ended with Haskins’ 12-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell. In the second quarter, Weber contributed 14 rushing yards and caught an 8-yard screen pass in a drive that Haskins finished by throwing a 19-yard scoring pass to Johnnie Dixon.
“Mike ran the ball really efficiently, and we got a lot of first downs with him,” Haskins said. “He opened up the passing game for us, giving us some wide-open lanes and impacting the zone coverage.”
Campbell elaborated on Weber’s impact.
“Just speaking from a receiver standpoint, having defenses worry about the run early on definitely makes it easier on us,” Campbell said. “Defenders play a little soft and they might want to load the box.”
Enabling Weber to make that impact was an offensive line led by two members of the All-Big 10 team, center Michael Jordan and tackle Isaiah Prince.
“Their front seven are really good,” said Jordan, a first-team All American. “Their interior linemen know how to use their hands pretty well.”
Prince praised the Huskies’ intensity.
“Whenever they make a tackle, they have 11 white or purple jerseys on the ball,” Prince said. “They played really hard. They’re definitely one of the better defenses we played this year.”
By defusing that defense, the Buckeyes gave Urban Meyer a victory in his final game as Ohio State’s coach. Meyer announced his retirement Dec. 4.
“This has always been a bucket list (item),” Meyer said about experiencing the Rose Bowl. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about as long as I’ve been watching Ohio State football, which is as long as I’ve been around. It was everything and more.”
Winning Meyer’s final game also affected his players.
“It means a lot,” Weber said. “It’s something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s something that he will remember for the rest of his life. I’ll be part of a legacy, a crazy legacy. I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Jordan believed Tuesday night’s victory provided the perfect form of gratitude.
“Coach Meyer recruits you personally,” he said. “Once you get on the team, he truly cares about you and wants to see you grow as a player. It’s only right to send him off the right way with a ‘W.’ “