Dec 21, 2021 - Sports

Rapid Rose Bowl preview

Ohio State takes the field against Michigan State on Nov. 20 by running through a smoke machine.
Ohio State takes the field against Michigan State on Nov. 20. Photo: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

You are forgiven if the Buckeyes' upcoming Rose Bowl appearance has faded a bit from conversation.

  • There's been a long layoff since the team's last game against, well, you remember.
  • Meanwhile, the Browns and Bengals are in the NFL playoff hunt and both Buckeye basketball teams are ranked contenders.

Yes, but: The Rose Bowl is finally approaching and it's time to gear up that scarlet and gray excitement.

The game: Ohio State heads to Pasadena to take on the Utah Utes on New Year's Day.

  • Kickoff is at 5pm ET, with the Tournament of Roses parade airing that morning at 11am.

State of play: The Buckeyes are favorites to win their ninth Rose Bowl in school history, but don't sleep on Utah.

  • The Utes enter the game with a 10-3 record and a four-game winning streak.
  • This includes two late-season victories over Oregon, one a 38-10 thrashing in the Pac-12 championship game.
  • Those same Ducks, you'll recall, defeated OSU back in September.

What we're watching: Top-level players often sit out bowl games to avoid injury, especially if they've declared for the NFL draft.

  • Local beat writers have yet to report any Buckeyes or Utes opting out of the game.

What they're saying: The team hopes to use last month's rivalry defeat as a motivator to play hard against Utah.

  • "I don't necessarily know if we needed it, but it was kind of like a wakeup call," freshman defensive end Jack Sawyer told The Columbus Dispatch.
  • "Maybe we weren't playing as tough as we should. Maybe we weren't playing as hard as we could have every day in practice, taking the little things seriously."

The bottom line: Players and fans alike are disappointed to not be competing again in the College Football Playoff.

  • But this is still the Rose Bowl and it's shaping up to be a great game, so enjoy it.
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