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Prepping for Pasadena: When Ohio State throws the football

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Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) looks to throw a pass in the second quarter of the game against Michigan State on Nov. 10. Ohio State won 26-6.  

When the No. 9 Washington football team takes the field in Pasadena, Calif. for the 15th Rose Bowl in program history, the Huskies will go against the best team they’ve faced all season in No. 6 Ohio State. In the first piece of The Daily’s preview series, we take a look at the OSU passing attack versus the UW pass defense.

Of course we're going to start this series off with potentially one of the most intriguing matchups of the bowl season. Ohio State’s passing offense led by quarterback Dwayne Haskins ranks as statistically one of the best in the country, and Washington’s defense led by its secondary ranks as one of the best in the nation as well.

So who gets the edge? Who will win this matchup of strengths when the Huskies meet the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena?

Everything in the passing game obviously runs through Haskins, but the Buckeyes have quite a few talented receivers and playmakers that help the sophomore quarterback when things break down. Led by Parris Campbell on the outside, Ohio State boasts four different receivers over 500 yards receiving, and two of them have 11 touchdown grabs (Campbell and Terry McLaurin).

Haskins himself has one of the most impressive Big Ten passing seasons in history, throwing for 4,580 yards, 47 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions, with a completion rate of 70.2 percent. Not too shabby.

On the whole, Ohio State has the second best passing offense in the country, in the rawest sense of the numbers. The only comparable offense the UW has faced this season is Washington State’s air raid, which (surprise, surprise) has the top-ranked passing offense in the nation.

On 100 fewer attempts, the Buckeyes have thrown for roughly 300 more yards than the Cougars and 11 more touchdowns,.

What makes Ohio State different is that they have two tailbacks (J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber) that are either over or close to 1,000 yards rushing (more on that in a later piece), and the Buckeyes go downfield in the passing game more often. OSU averages around 13 yards per completion, compared to WSU’s 10.29.

On the other end, the Huskies boast a defense that could potentially match the Buckeyes’ offensive strength. Washington gives up just 185.4 passing yards per game and 8.93 yards per completion; both of those marks are near the top in the country.

The Huskies will be led by safeties Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh, and have corners Byron Murphy, Jordan Miller, Myles Bryant, Keith Taylor, and Elijah Molden all to work with in maybe the deepest secondary the UW has seen to this point.

The Huskies have only intercepted 11 passes this season (tied for No. 50 in the country), but eight of those have come in their past four games.

Lastly, the battle on the line of scrimmage will obviously help decide this game, and given how often the Buckeyes will go through the air on offense, it’ll be important for the Huskies to pressure Haskins. Washington has often generated pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but haven’t often gotten to the end goal and brought the signal callers down.

At 106th in the country, the Huskies have only produced 21 team sacks all season long. The Buckeyes have given up just 20 sacks in 13 games, good for 29th in the land.

Edge: Ohio State

It’s tough to go against the UW secondary here, they are truly one of the best units in the country in stopping opposing passers. In fact, the secondary has almost single-handedly won games for the Huskies this year, given the offense’s inability to score at times.

However, OSU’s ability to protect the quarterback, and Washington’s struggles to get in the backfield give Ohio State the edge here. If the Huskies can’t generate enough pressure on Haskins, he’ll pick them apart and have all the time in the world to do so.

If Washington can get past that offensive line, that would help the defensive backs immensely in stopping a Heisman finalist in Haskins and one of the top passing offenses in the nation.

And we know there won’t be any snow in Pasadena.

Reach Assistant Sports Editor Alec Dietz at Twitter: @AlecDietz

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