Noah Ruggles kicked the tie-breaking 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left and redshirt freshman quarterback 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.
Utah had re-tied the score with one minute, 54 seconds to play on a 15-yard touchdown pass from freshman backup Bryson Barnes to tight end Dalton Kincaid. 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.
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. The Utes led 35-21 at halftime.
Stroud, an alumnus of Rancho Cucamonga High, completed 37 of 46 passes for 573 yards with one interception. Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba each caught three touchdown passes for the Buckeyes (11-2).
Rising, who graduated from Newbury Park High in Ventura County, completed 16 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns in front of predominantly pro-Utah crowd announced at 87,842.
The Buckeyes 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.
Utah (10-4) earned its first Rose Bowl berth in its 11 seasons in the Pac-12 Conference 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.