It was the odor that finally sent C.J. Stroud over the edge. That, along with a whole host of other things, was part of the assault on the senses that was his first Rose Bowl.
You can talk all you want about the Rose and its many distinguishing features, such as the sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains, a parade that almost overshadows the game itself, or the sound of Keith Jackson’s voice floating in some ethereal cloud above it all, but there will always be that moment for newcomers.
It was pretty much everything for Ohio State’s junior quarterback, who started the game.
Roses are the topic at hand, according to Stroud. “I would say that,” she remarked. “It’s unique. It has a pleasant aroma. It seems to be well done. It’s a nice sensation. The grass was the best I’ve ever played on in my entire life. It’s simply that every aspect of it is exactly as I anticipated it would be. Because of this, the Rose Bowl is unlike any other bowl game.”
This is coming from a young person who spent their childhood within a half-drive hours of Pasadena, California. It is one thing to see the Grandaddy of ‘Em All on TV; it is quite another to play the game and feel its one-of-a-kind qualities.
In addition to the sights, colors, and fragrances, it is also the location where the 2021 season for the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes came to a conclusion and the 2022 season began.
The Ohio State Buckeyes’ 48-45 victory over the Utah Utes may be still whirling around in the heads of anyone who was there on January 1. Stroud passed for a school-record of 573 yards and tied the school record with six touchdowns, both of which he accomplished through the air. Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba made a name for himself by setting a record for the most receiving yards in an FBS bowl game with 347 and scoring three touchdowns.
Stroud attributed their success to the convergence of “great minds” and “great players.” “… I’ve never had that much pleasure [while playing] in all of my life.”
“A record of 11-2 and a win in the Rose Bowl could be considered a successful year in some circles. There is no evidence of it at Ohio State “coach Ryan Day claimed.
The result demonstrated that both were correct. The lingering scent, feeling, and sight of the Rose Bowl served as a possible exclamation point for Ohio State’s disappointing season overall. The game was played at the Rose Bowl. However, it was also used by Stroud and Smith-Njigba as a springboard for their future endeavors.
Day has stated that “that was the aim coming into it” about that stepping stone for his premier offensive players. “We discussed it before its implementation.”
Now, the two most powerful weapons that the Buckeyes have at their disposal are the Rat Pack of 2022, a group of inseparable friends who feed off of one another. According to Caesars Sportsbook, Stroud is the preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, with odds of 2-1 going into the season. On that list, Smith-Njigba comes in at position 40-1, just outside the top 10; he is widely considered to be the game’s best receiver. In the middle of them is another rising star in the form of OSU running back TreVeyon Henderson, who comes into the year with a record of 20-1.
Stroud, who came in fourth place in the vote for the Heisman Trophy in 2021 as one of the finalists, remarked, “I don’t want to think about it, but I do.” It would be dishonest of me to say that I didn’t do it.
Stroud threw for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns, which is the second-most in school history for both categories. Henderson finished the season with nearly 1,600 total yards and 19 touchdowns, including several outstanding single-game performances that helped him accumulate an average of 6.8 yards per run.
Smith-Njigba, who played in the shadow of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, set the school record for receptions (95) and yards receiving despite their presence (1,606). On their path to the National Football League, Wilson and Olave combined for just 25 touchdown receptions. Smith-Njigba had a performance at the Rose Bowl that was on par with what another player may have had during a solid month.
He responded, “I believe I’m the best, so I have to work like it,” and that was exactly what he did.
Buckeye fans all over the world have permission to daydream since this year’s Ohio State squad is the greatest it has been since 2019. That might not seem like much, but at Ohio State, it’s a significant accomplishment. That club, which competed three years ago, could win it all, but they were eliminated by Clemson in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff.
It has been that amount of time since Buckeye Nation has experienced this level of satisfaction with themselves. The 2020 COVID-19-affected team competed in only eight games and was defeated by Alabama in the Orange Bowl semifinal, 52-24. The loss to Oregon in 2017 was the first time that Ohio State had suffered at home against a Power Five opponent in a nonconference game since Oklahoma in 2017.
The most recent nonconference test is waiting for you. In what might be the most exciting game of Week 1, No. 5 Notre Dame travels to The Shoe as a 14.5-point underdog.
Day suffered his first setback in the Big Ten in his 24th career game against teams from that conference when he was defeated at Michigan in November of 2017. That Ohio State squad finished first in the country in terms of total offense. The issue could be pinpointed with relative ease: the defense, and particularly the run defense, was too flexible. The Ohio State defense allowed 3.68 yards per rush, which was the second-highest average in the last ten years for the Buckeyes. With 45 points scored in that Rose Bowl, Utah tied a program record for most points scored in a bowl game.
The most upsetting part was when Michigan boat-raced Ohio State out of Michigan Stadium in the second half, which resulted in Ohio State losing the title of champion of the Big Ten East. What was most concerning was the fact that the defense let up at least 40 points in each of the last two games, which hadn’t happened since 1891.
At Ohio State, almost everything must be interpreted using a relative frame of reference. Recent statements made by Stroud support income sharing in the era of name, image, and likeness protection. This information comes from a rising junior who has a NIL contract that allows him to go about in a Bentley.
He was taken aback when he was recognized while he was on vacation in St. Thomas, which is located in the United States Virgin Islands.
He described it as “sort of cool,” but said that it was also “frightening at the same time.” “I’m not used to having people stare at me,” the speaker said.
It doesn’t matter because there are a lot of people staring at you right now. Stroud’s performances are frequently attended by one hundred thousand people. With almost 500,000 live alumni, Ohio State University is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the United States.
“I just want to pile on the days,” Stroud explained further. “If I think about winning the Heisman, I’ll just get overwhelmed and put too much pressure on myself,” the student said.
If the defensive play does not improve, Stroud, Smith-Njigba, and Henderson may have to shoulder the load for the Buckeyes by outscoring everyone else. And thinking about it, in this day and age, that makes an awful lot of sense. After all, Alabama secured a spot in the playoff for 2020 despite having the third-worst total defense of any team that has ever won the national championship (since at least 1936).
Smells like another title run?
Stroud concluded that “We don’t have to prove anybody wrong.” “We have to demonstrate that we are correct.”