Pac-12 champ, Utah, takes on Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State in a New Year’s Day showdown at the Rose Bowl.
Utah Utes vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday, January 01, 2022 – 05:00 PM EST at Rose Bowl
Utah stumbled at times in the early going but as the season unfolded, the Utes continued to get better and wound up winning the Pac-12 championship, courtesy of a 38-10 victory over Oregon. It was Utah’s sixth consecutive win and they easily covered the three-point impost for all those who had faith in this burgeoning juggernaut.
Sophomore quarterback, Cameron Rising, was more of a passenger and less of a driver in the Utah attack as he tossed for just 170 yards and one touchdown while serving up two picks. However, the Utes ground attack was relentless, and Rising was the second leading rusher with 61 yards on nine carries while three others also had double-digit rushing yards for a total of 191 yards on the ground. The Utes’ defense chipped in with four sacks and one interception, contributing to the 28-point margin of victory.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after the game, "We've just been working away on it (Rose Bowl bid) ever since we joined the league. This is the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and effort, not only by us but everyone involved. It takes a lot of people to make this thing go."
The dominating victory over Oregon was eerily similar to the meeting two weeks prior when the Utes broke out fast and smothered the Ducks’ offensive attack in what resulted in a 38-7 victory over the then-No. 3 team in the nation.
Buckeyes Come Up Short
Ohio State entered their last game of the regular season as the No. 6 team in the country and was on the precipice of capturing a Big Ten East title with a very clear path to the College Football Playoff if they were to defeat Iowa and claim another Big Ten championship. However, all those lofty plans were derailed when they fell, 42-27, to their archrivals, Michigan, ending any speculation that the Buckeyes would be invited to the exclusive party for four.
Ohio State had dominated this historic series recently, winning 15 of their last 16 meetings but the Wolverines were not to be denied and the victory propelled them to a conference championship and a seat at the CFP table as the No. 2 team in the nation.
The Buckeyes could not stop the relentless ground-and-pound attack executed flawlessly by Michigan as their run-stop unit allowed 297 yards which led to six rushing touchdowns, five of which were by Michigan senior Hassan Haskins.
As for the Buckeyes’ offense, freshman quarterback, C.J. Stroud, launched for 394 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes while the Ohio State rushing attack was virtually dormant in contributing only 64 yards all afternoon.
Ohio State did not register a single sack against the Wolverines, although that had much to do with the fact that the Wolverines did not go to the air all that often, preferring to hammer away on the ground.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The college football odds at all of the top online sportsbooks reveal the Buckeyes as 6.5 point neutral-site favorites and that looks quite slight compared to what we have seen Ohio State laying in the past. In fact, it is the first time all season that the Buckeyes have been installed as anything less than a 14-point betting favorite. The question is, are we getting serious value on Ohio State or is this a trap?
Ohio State has the top-ranked scoring attack in the nation, averaging 45.5 points per game, while Utah checks in at No. 19 in the same category, scoring 35.5 points per game. Defensively, it’s a coin flip with Utah ranked 24th, surrendering 20.6 points per contest while Ohio State is a half click behind at No. 25 allowing 20.9 PPG.
But the thing that concerns me the most about Utah is their rushing attack, ranked 15th in the nation averaging 216.2 yards per game versus the Buckeyes’ run-stop unit that couldn’t stop anything in their last performance against Michigan. There is no question the Utah coaching staff has dissected every second of that game tape as a blueprint of how to beat the Buckeyes.
I think we need to erase any thoughts that this is the elite Ohio State squad we have seen in recent years and remind ourselves this iteration is a notch below those. Still, a very good team but undeniably beatable.
Utah is just the team to ground and pound their way to a win over a team that was bowled over by a similarly talented Michigan rushing attack to close out their season. Grab the points with the Utes and cash a ticket!
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.