Noah Ruggles kicked the tie-breaking 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left and C.J. Stroud threw six touchdown passes as shorthanded Ohio State rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat Utah, 48-45, in the 108th Rose Bowl Game Saturday.

The Buckeyes drove 56 yards on seven plays in one minute, 38 seconds for the winning score after Emeka Egbuka returned Jordan Noyes’ kickoff 33 yards to the Ohio State 42-yard line. Stroud completed three of three passes for 29 yards and TreVeyon Henderson rushed three times for 27 yards.

Utah had re-tied the score with 1:54 to play on a 15-yard touchdown pass from freshman backup Bryson Barnes to tight end Dalton Kincaid.

Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said he “had an inclination to go for two right then, but too much time left on the clock.”

“Had there been under a minute, would have gone for two,” Whittingham said. “That was the mindset. They had a full two minutes, and the analytics said not to do it either at that point.”

Barnes was playing in place of Cameron Rising suffered an apparent head injury in the fourth quarter.

Rising was thrown down while throwing a pass, and his helmet hit the ground hard as he fell. He stayed down for a few minutes while receiving attention from trainers and eventually walked off the field and to the medical tent under his own power.

“I don’t think he ever lost consciousness,” Whittingham said. “He’s doing fine now according to what the post-game report was. Unless something that we don’t know about materializes, he should be OK.”

The game was the third-highest scoring Rose Bowl behind Georgia’s 54-48 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the 2018 game which served as a College Football Playoff semifinal, and USC’s 52-49 victory over Penn State a year earlier.

There were 56 points scored in the first half, equaling the Rose Bowl record set in the 2012 game between Oregon and Wisconsin. There were five touchdowns in a 2:44 span of the second quarter, including four on plays 50 yards or longer.

Rising threw touchdown passes on two of the Utes’ first three possessions to give Utah a 14-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first quarter en route to a 35-21 halftime lead.

Buckeyes receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba was selected as the offensive player of the game, catching 15 passes for 347 yards and three touchdown. The 347 receiving yards were the most in a bowl game, breaking the previous record of 308 by Jason Rivers of Hawaii in the 2006 Hawaii Bowl.

Stroud and Smith-Njigba “just have a great connection,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

“They have a great feel, and I think there’s a lot of trust there that’s been built over the year,” Day said.

Smith-Njigba’s performance gave him school season records for receptions, 95, breaking the previous record of 90 set by Parris Campbell in 2018, and receiving yards, 1,606, erasing the previous mark of 1,435 set by David Boston in 1998.

Smith-Njigba also set the school single-game receiving yardage record, breaking the record of 253 set by Terry Glenn against Pittsburgh in 1995, and tied his own single-game reception record.

Buckeyes linebacker Tommy Eichenberg was selected as the defensive player of the game, making 17 tackles, including 10 solo stops.

Stroud, a redshirt freshman and graduate of Rancho Cucamonga High, completed 37 of 46 passes for a Rose Bowl-record 573 yards with one interception. Stroud was three yards short of the all-bowl record of 576 yards set in 1989 by Ty Detmer of Brigham Young against Penn State in the 1989 Holiday Bowl and tied by Byron Leftwich of Marshall in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.

Marvin Harrison Jr. also caught three touchdown passes for Ohio State (11-2). He is a son of Marvin Harrison Sr., a receiver elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016 after playing for the Indianapolis Colts from 1996-2008.

Rising, who graduated from Newbury Park High in Ventura County, completed 16 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a game-high 92 yards on 11 carries, including a 62-yard second-quarter touchdown run.

The Buckeyes outgained the Utes, 683 yards to 463, and led 28-25 in first downs but trailed 34:17-25:43 in time of possession in front of a predominantly pro-Utah crowd announced at 87,842.

Ohio State played without 25 scholarship players because of season-long injuries, more recent injuries or illness, opt-outs and players who have transferred since the end of the regular season, including four All-Americans — receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett — and four other defensive starters.

“We were shorthanded, and there were some guys who weren’t here today,” Day said. “For us to respond the way we did at halftime and to come out and play in the second half says a lot about the character of this team to win this game.”

The Buckeyes won despite turning the ball over twice after reaching Utah’s 20-yard line.

Smith-Njigba caught a pass from Stroud at the Utes’ 30-yard line and was running toward the end zone when Clark Phillips III knocked the ball loose, with Utah freshman safety Cole Bishop recovering in the end zone for a touchback 4:40 before halftime.

A 45-yard pass from Stroud to Smith-Njigba gave Ohio State a first down on the Utes’ 20-yard line on the opening drive on the third quarter. Stroud’s pass on the next play was intercepted by Clark Phillips in the end zone.

Utah (10-4) committed one turnover, a snap dropped by punter Mike Williams on the series after Phillips’ interception. Bryson Shaw recovered for the Buckeyes on the Utes’ 11-yard line, but Ohio State would have taken over on downs if Utah recovered. Stroud threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Harrison two plays later, cutting the deficit to 35-28.

The Utes’ other scores came on Tavion Thomas’ 6-yard second-quarter run, Britain Covey’s 97-yard second-quarter kickoff return and Jadon Redding’s 24-yard field goal that gave Utah a 38-28 lead with 7:10 left in the third quarter.

Ruggles kicked a 31-yard field goal with 2:53 to play in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 38-31.

The Utes were playing in their first Rose Bowl in their 11 seasons in the Pac-12 Conference, earning the berth with a 38-10 victory over Oregon in the conference’s championship game Dec. 3.

With Big Ten champion Michigan qualifying for the College Football Playoff, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association selected the Buckeyes as the replacement from the conference. They were sixth in the playoff rankings, the highest among the conference’s remaining teams.

While Ohio State sold approximately 13,000 of its allotted 20,000 tickets, approximately 60,000 Utah fans were expected to attend the game, according to athletic director Mark Harlan.

Ohio State’s victory reduced the Pac-12’s lead in the Rose Bowl to 39 victories to 32.

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