Lori Schmidt

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Washington Preview

The top two active coaches in winning percentage are meeting on the gridiron in the Rose Bowl...although one of them won't be an active head coach any more following the contest. 

Ohio State's Urban Meyer (.853) will enter retirement and a new profession as a Buckeye assistant athletics director once the Rose Bowl ends. Prior to that, he'll be game planning against Washington's Chris Peterson, who--with a .813 winning percentage--is the only other man in the country over the .800 mark. 

This game is also a matchup of one of the country's top passing offenses against one of its top passing defenses. 

Compare the Buckeyes and Huskies numbers as they stood heading into bowl season here.

The Buckeyes average 373 passing yards a contest, while the Huskies are only giving up 185.4 yards a game in that category. 

A lot of the credit for that belongs to 5'11" sophomore defensive back Byron Murphy. He's been credited with 17 passes defended this season. (For comparison's sake, Ohio State's best players in passes defended are Kendall Sheffield and Shaun Wade with 9.)

Murphy has 4 interceptions this year. That's more than a third of the team's total (11).

He's among the club's most productive tacklers with 56, trailing only linebackers Ben-Burr Kirven (165), Tevis Bartlett (68), as well as fellow defensive back Taylor Rapp (59). 

Shutting down the pass with a combination of talent and an intricate scheme has prevented opponents from gouging the Huskies for big plays. Only one time this year has someone gone 40 or more yards from scrimmage on their defense. And that's only part of what has allowed the Huskies to limit opponents to an average of 15.5 points per game. 

They also have been holding teams to 116.38 rushing yards. 

Like Ohio State's competition in the Big Ten title game, Northwestern, Washington accomplishes this by keeping the play in front of them, while not necessarily being disruptive in the backfield. Somewhat a function of their 3-4 defense, they are one of only a handful of teams recording fewer than 5 tackles for loss a game. 

Offensively, the Huskies are paced by running back Myles Gaskin. He has 1,147 yards on 225 carries this season to go along with 10 rushing touchdowns, and that's despite missing two games with a shoulder injury. They also mix in a steady dose of Salvon Ahmed (604 yards, 99 carries, 7 touchdowns). 

They, and quarterback Jake Browning, can be brought down behind the line of scrimmage, as Washington gives up nearly 6 tackles for loss a game. 

That's not to say that Browning is a total statue. Although not the most mobile of all signal callers, he does have 4 rushing touchdowns of his own, which ranks him third among Washington's players. 

As a passer, he completes 65 percent of his passes, has 16 TDs to 10 interceptions, and averages 221.5 yards per contest. His number one target is Aaron Fuller (794 yards, 51 catches, 4 touchdowns), while Ty Jones has also shown some explosiveness with 6 touchdown catches on his 28 receptions. 

The Huskies and Buckeyes collide at 5:00 p.m. on New Year's Day.

Extra Points:

  • Chris Peterson needed 117 games to reach 100 wins. Urban Meyer needed 118. 
  • This is Washington's first trip to the Rose Bowl since 2001, and they have been to nine different bowl games over the past nine seasons. 
  • Over the past three seasons, the Huskies have only lost once when they had a player rush for 100 yards or more (18-1).
  • Jake Browning has started 52 of a possible 53 games over the course of his college career.

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