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Rose Bowl: Ohio State-Washington promises intriguing matchup

Chris Olave-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State has found a new weapon in wide receiver Chris Olave who can help the Buckeyes keep racking up points. (Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports)

Question Of The Day

Rose Bowl: Ohio State-Washington promises intriguing matchup

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the Rose Bowl? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

If any lesson has definitively been learned about this particular Ohio State team, it’s that any game has the potential to turn into an offensive shootout. With Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, the Buckeyes are going to score on anybody. And given the season-long issues allowing explosive plays on defense, any opponent has a chance to put up some points and at least try to trade punches.

Even when Ohio State has shown signs of progress, it still gave up 39 points in the rivalry win over Michigan and was gashed for another touchdown longer than 75 yards in the Big Ten championship victory over Northwestern. So, even though Washington has been inconsistent offensively this season, it has both talent and a coach in Chris Petersen who has proven he won’t hold any tricks back in the postseason, which hints that the Rose Bowl has the potential for a lot of fireworks.

For the Buckeyes to cap the season with another win, they’re obviously going to need Haskins to be at his best. And motivation for him personally doesn’t figure to be even remotely an issue in what figures to be his last chance to audition for NFL scouts and general managers in a real game. On top of that, he’s playing another touted, top-10 defense and might be fired up if he comes up short in the Heisman Trophy race. Considering the way he’s been carving up even top-ranked units like the one Michigan brought to the Horseshoe, Haskins is almost certainly going to hold up his end of the deal.

Dwayne Haskins-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins gives the Buckeyes a chance to score points against any defense. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

So, what about the Silver Bullets? The Buckeyes actually had plenty to feel good about on that side of the ball as they defended the Big Ten crown. Chase Young and the pass rush were ferocious again, the linebackers were solid and the secondary helped generate a couple turnovers. Truthfully, Ohio State couldn’t have asked for much more than that to complement its high-scoring attack, and it’s worth a reminder that knowing the offense is going to put up points allows the defense to play a more risky style in search of takeaways.

This obviously isn’t where Ohio State wanted to be, there’s no denying that. But for the second year in a row, a traditional showdown against the Pac-12 champion absolutely qualifies as a lovely consolation gift — especially since this season it’s actually going to be in the Rose Bowl. The matchup itself has tons of potential, and it will be fun to see if the Huskies have an answer for Haskins or if the Silver Bullets can put together a stout effort against a dangerous rusher like Myles Gaskin.

There’s almost a whole month to go before it’s time to make any predictions. But an early forecast calling for a heavy shower of points would make sense.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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