Brutally Honest To Do List: What Ohio State Needs To Do In Today’s Rose Bowl Game Against Utah

For some, today is the culmination of an emotional, up-and-down season that ultimately led to the most beautiful and venerated cathedral of college football outside of the 43210 zip code. For others, today is the disastrous outcome of a season not-so-slowly careening off of a cliff to an inevitable fiery demise.

Whichever vibe you are choosing to carry into this evening’s Rose Bowl (Presented by Capital One Venture X, obvi.), if you’re reading this, chances are that you want the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes to win the game as much as I do. So, as I have throughout the season, I will be virtually sending the OSU coaching staff a few simple, straightforward points to help them leave the San Gabriel Valley with both a shiny trophy and their dignity in hand.

Protect Stroud

Coming into the Rose Bowl, the Utah defense ranks eighth nationally with 3.23 sacks per game and 12th in tackles for loss with 7.46 per outing. Now, despite the general consensus amongst fans, the Buckeye offense has done a pretty great job of avoiding sacks this year; they are 15th nationally allowing only 1.42 per game. They are even better in the TFLs allowed department, currently sixth in the country giving up jut 3.92 each time out.

But, it sure didn’t always feel that way, as C.J. Stroud seemed to be under pressure on a regular basis. Pro Football Focus ranks Ohio State’s pass blocking 39th nationally, despite OSU allowing sacks/hits/hurries/pressures on 43.0% of the team’s 447 pass attempts.

So the reconfigured offensive line — without the services of NFL-bound Nicholas Petit-Frere — must keep the Utes at bay and Ryan Day has to call plays to get the ball out of Stroud’s hands as quickly as possible.

As our friends over at SBNation’s Utah site Block U have been chronicling

, it appears that former Ohio State commit Clark Phillips III might be the only regular starting cornerback available for the Utes today. So, if Stroud can get the ball to whichever talented wide receivers end up playing (I’m assuming Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming, and Emeka Egbuka will be the starters), they could exploit the only apparent weakness on the Utah defense — if not the entire team, while also giving Stroud the best opportunity to succeed.

Find competent linebackers

I don’t care if you find them in Al Washington’s linebacker room, from Ohio State’s offense, the transfer portal, OSU’s club rugby team, carrying kegs as a bar-back at a local Pasadena watering hole; just find some freaking linebackers that won’t disgrace the good name and reputation of the venerated Silver Bullets.

The Ohio State LBs have been pretty bad for the better part of four seasons and that is not a good situation to be in when you are facing a team that ran for 64.5% of their rushing yards between the tackles.

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