Record-setting Stroud, Smith-Njigba lead Ohio State over Utah in wild Rose Bowl

Credit: John McCoy

Credit: John McCoy

PASADENA -- C.J. Stroud threw for over 500 yards and Jaxon Smith-Njigba had over 300 yards receiving as Ohio State won a wild Rose Bowl 48-45 over Utah on Saturday.

Noah Ruggles banged through a 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left for the winning score, and the clock ran out on Utah on the ensuing kickoff.

»PHOTOS: Ohio State vs. Utah

Stroud completed 37 of 46 passes for an Ohio State single-game record 573 yards and six touchdowns while Smith-Njigba had a 15 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns.

Ohio State struck first in the second half despite turning the ball over on the first possession.

The Buckeyes took advantage of a miscue as Utah punter Micah Williams dropped the snap and Bryson Shaw recovered at the Utah 11.

Three plays later, Stroud hit Marvin Harrison Jr. from eight yards out for a touchdown that brought the Buckeyes with seven points at 35-28.

Utah answered with a 24-yard field goal.

On its next drive, Ohio State moved the ball too the Utah 14 but hard to settle for its own field goal, a 31-yarder by Noah Ruggles.

Utah drove across midfield on the next possession, but Ronnie Hickman brought down Brant Kuithe short of the line to gain on fourth-and-3, giving Ohio State the chance to tie the game.

The Buckeyes did just that seven plays later when Stroud hit Harrison again from five yards out for the freshman’s third touchdown catch of the game.

After forcing a punt, Ohio State took the lead on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Smith-Njigba that made it 45-38 with under five minutes to play.

That did not last long as third-string Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes led a six-play, 57-yard touchdown drive kept alive by a pair of pass interference penalties and capped with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Kincaid with 1:54 left.


Utah went to the locker room with a 35-21 lead after a wild first half against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

Utah got on the board first with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cameron Rising to Britain Covey, who caught the ball between Ohio State defenders and outran them to the end zone from the 13.

The Utes mixed in some tempo early in a five-play, 56-yard drive that included a pass interference penalty on Ohio State’s Kourt Williams to put Utah in the red zone.

They tacked on another touchdown later in the first quarter when Rising hit Micah Bernard in the back of the end zone. He got behind Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg on a wheel route and made a spectacular leaping catch, dragging a foot in front of the pylon to stay in bounds and make it 14-0 with 3:28 left in the first quarter.

Ohio State answered with a 10-play, 76-yard drive for a touchdown that was mostly the work of C.J. Stroud. The Buckeyes’ quarterback scrambled 10 yards on third-and-8 for their first first down of the game and hit long passes to Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr.

The former hauled in a 30-yard catch on the sideline to get the Buckeyes into Utah territory and then Harrison caught a 25-yard fade pass from Stroud on fourth-and-1 for a touchdown.

Dayton native Tavion Thomas restored Utah’s two-score advantage with a 6-yard touchdown run, but Ohio State struck right back with a 2-play scoring drive.

After Miyan Williams ran for 10 yards on the first play, Ohio State quickly got up to the line and Stroud hit Jaxon Smith-Njigba along the sideline for a 50-yard catch-and-run.

That was a brief respite for the Buckeyes, though, as they allowed Britain Covey to return the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a Utah touchdown.

Ohio State safety Lathan Ransom appeared to suffer a serious leg injury on the return and left the field on a cart.

The Buckeyes got the ball back at the after a short kick and a targeting penalty, and they took advantage. Stroud hit Smith-Njigba over the middle, he picked up a block from Julian Fleming and found the end zone again.

That made it 28-21, but again it did not stay there long.

Rising kept the ball on fourth-and-1 from the Ohio State 38 and made his coach look smart by getting loose around end and going all the way down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown.

Three plays later, Smith-Njigba looked headed for another touchdown, but he was caught at the 3-yard line and fumbled. Utah recovered in the end zone.

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