C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba shined with record-setting performances as No. 6 Ohio State rallied for a memorable 48-45 victory over No. 11 Utah in the Rose Bowl on Saturday at Pasadena, Calif.
Noah Ruggles kicked the winning 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left.
Stroud completed 37 of 46 passes and set Rose Bowl records with 573 yards and six touchdowns while being intercepted once. Smith-Njigba set school and Rose Bowl records with 347 receiving yards while making 15 catches, three for touchdowns.
Marvin Harrison Jr. caught three touchdown passes for the Buckeyes (11-2), who overcame a 14-point halftime deficit and drove down the field late for Ruggles’ decisive kick.
Utah’s Cameron Rising completed 17 of 22 passes for 214 yards and rushed for 92 yards and one score before leaving with a head injury in the fourth quarter.
Britain Covey caught a touchdown pass and scored another on a kickoff return for the Utes (10-4). Micah Bernard and Dalton Kincaid had scoring catches, and Tavion Thomas rushed for a score.
The teams combined for 1,146 yards — Ohio State had a 683-463 edge — in an epic shootout that included a second-quarter stretch in which five touchdowns were scored in a span of 2:43.
Ohio State never led until Stroud drilled a 30-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Njigba with 4:22 left to take a 45-38 lead. With Rising out, Bryson Barnes, who had never thrown a college pass entering the game, tossed a tying 15-yard scoring pass to Kincaid with 1:54 left.
The Buckeyes trailed throughout the game but caught the Utes at 38 on Stroud’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Harrison with 10:12 left.
Rising was sacked by Ohio State’s Kourt Williams on Utah’s next play from scrimmage and his head hit the turf hard. He exited and didn’t return.
Rising threw first-quarter touchdowns of 19 yards to Covey and 12 to Bernard before Ohio State got on the board with Stroud’s 25-yard scoring pass to Harrison 43 seconds into the second quarter.
The Utes started the touchdown frenzy on Thomas’ 6-yard run with 9:07 left in the second quarter. Just 35 seconds later, Smith-Njigba caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to pull the Buckeyes within 21-14.
Covey returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, but Ohio State answered on its next offensive play as Stroud connected with Smith-Njigba on a 52-yard scoring pass with 8:02 left. That made it four touchdowns in 65 seconds.
On their next drive, the Utes decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 38-yard line. Rising kept the ball and got the first down and then broke through a tackle attempt and lumbered 62 yards down the left sideline to make it 35-21 with 6:24 remaining in the half.
Ohio State moved within 35-28 on Stroud’s 8-yard scoring pass to Harrison with 11:20 left in the third quarter. Utah’s Jadon Redding and Ruggles traded field goals later in the stanza.
Oregon’s Danny O’Neil held the Rose Bowl passing yardage record of 456, set against Penn State on Jan. 2, 1995. USC’s Sam Darnold held the TD mark of five, also set against Penn State, on Jan. 2, 2017.
USC’s Keyshawn Johnson held the Rose Bowl mark of 216 receiving yards vs. Northwestern on Jan. 1, 1996, while the late Terry Glenn set the Ohio State record of 253 in 1995.
–Field Level Media