Location: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Time: Jan. 1, 5 p.m. on ESPN
Teams: No. 6 Ohio State (10–2) versus No. 11 Utah (10–3)
Line: Ohio State -6.5
Arch rival Michigan, fellow Ohio school Cincinnati, and playoff nemesis Alabama all in the playoff?
It's hard not to expect Ohio State to come out and play real angry-like against Utah and look for a statement win.
Utah does have the blueprint to beat the Buckeyes thanks to Michigan, and used that blueprint to win their final two games against Oregon. They'll need to continue to play bully ball to keep this one close, but the biggest challenge for the Utes is going to be on the defensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes have some of the best offensive weapons in the nation with their elite group of receivers and C.J. Stroud, which will ultimately be the difference in this game.
Even if Utah runs the ball down OSU's throat with Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, and TJ Pledger, the weapons on the offensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes means they can pull away at any time during this game.
Too many weapons for Ohio State, too much experience on their sideline, too big of a stage for Utah to pull off the upset. 6.5 is a hefty line for a Rose Bowl, but Ohio State will cover that and THEN some.
The Score: Ohio State big, 35-18
(We do most of my guessing based on a combination of The Smell Test and gut. If you’re looking for stat-based expertise to help you pick your games, check out our friends over at TeamRankings.com. They have a fantastic strategy guide and expert picks, too.)
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