Ohio State’s 28-23 win over Washington in the Rose Bowl served as a fitting finale for a funky season.
Here are five things to know about Urban Meyer’s last game as head coach of the Buckeyes.
1. The offense had its explosive moments.
Ohio State’s first five possessions included two scoring drives of more than 70 yards and three three-and-outs.
The Buckeyes had the running game going early behind Mike Weber before quarterback Dwayne Haskins got into a rhythm with Parris Campbell as the first half wore on.
They put 272 total yards and 21 points on a stout Washington defense in the first half and led 28-3 after J.K. Dobbins’ 3-yard touchdown run halfway through the third quarter.
That was as good as it got, though.
>>PHOTOS: Ohio State vs. Washington
Ohio State only got one more first down the rest of the way and had to hang on at the end to send their future Hall of Fame coach out with a win.
“I think we got off to a fast start,” Meyer said. “Obviously, that's a top 10 defense, one of the best defenses we faced in the last few year. They were playing zone coverage, and we had to be patient because they went around us, over the top, and I thought Dwayne did a great job.”
2. The defense had its struggles.
Ohio State’s oft-criticized stop unit looked like it might have saved its best for last before a weak closing stretch.
The Huskies moved the ball at times but couldn’t finish drives in the first three quarters. They made up for it in the fourth with 20 points and 170 yards.
When all was said and done, Washington actually had the edge in most of the major stats, finishing with more total yards (444-364), more rushing yards (129-113), more passing yards (315-251), more first downs (27-22), more sacks (3-2) and a huge advantage in time of possession (35:02-24:58).
Ohio State had the advantage where it counts, of course — on the scoreboard.
“Tough one,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said. “Very frustrating when you start the first half like we started. I had no idea why. It’s on me. It’s not these kids. They practiced hard. They’re ready to play, but we really didn’t play with that edge and that chip that we normally play with.”
3. Special teams were strong.
Drue Chrisman turned out to be one of Ohio State’s most important players again.
The Buckeyes’ punter had two downed inside the 20, and three of his eight attempts went at least 50 yards.
With the help of a stellar coverage unit, Ohio State repeatedly gained “hidden yardage” on punt exchanges and made the Huskies work long fields to try to score.
Chrisman averaged 42.8 yards per punt for the game.
4. Penalties were a problem.
Ohio State freshman guard Wyatt Davis was called for a false start on the first play of the game, a sign of things to come.
The Buckeyes ended up with nine penalties for 53 yards, including four false starts on the offensive line.
After a mostly clean first three quarters, the Ohio State secondary was hit with three penalties in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore safety Brendon White was flagged for holding and later pass interference in the final stanza, and sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Okudah was also hit with a pass interference call late on the last touchdown drive by the Huskies.
Six penalties were accepted against Washington, including a false start and a hold that short-circuited a promising early drive in which the Huskies had to settle for a field goal.
5. One more time for the 2018 season, “a win was a win.”
That slogan might as well be emblazoned on the Buckeyes’ Big Ten championship rings.
Rarely has a 13-1 season had so many so-so moments, but that’s what ended up defining the 2018 Ohio State football campaign.
A group of which much was expected accomplished a lot, but managed to leave the impression it could have done so much more -- even if that just meant blowing out a good Washington team instead of squeaking by at the end.
“What an up-and-down year, but a year that when we needed them the most, (our players) gave us their very best,” Meyer said, citing specifically the end-of-season wins over Michigan and Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game.
“Then to come out here to the Rose Bowl, they gave us their very best,” Meyer said. “Big Ten East division champs, Big Ten champs, Rose Bowl champs, and one of the great teams in Ohio State history.”