By GREG BEACHAM , AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Dwayne Haskins passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns, and Urban Meyer finished his coaching career at Ohio State with a 28-23 victory after the Buckeyes held off Washington’s thrilling fourth-quarter comeback in the 105th Rose Bowl on Tuesday.
Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Rashod Berry caught TD passes in the first half for the fifth-ranked Buckeyes (13-1), who took a 25-point lead into the fourth.
But Myles Gaskin threw a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores for the No. 9 Huskies (10-4), scoring from 2 yards out with 42 seconds left.
The Buckeyes intercepted Jake Browning’s pass on the 2-point conversion attempt and then recovered the Huskies’ onside kick to wrap up the final game of Meyer’s seven-year tenure.
“I’m a very blessed man,” Meyer said. “I’m blessed because of my family, (but) this team, this year, I love this group as much as any I’ve ever had.”
The 54-year-old coach is walking away after going 83-9 at Ohio State with one national championship, three Big Ten titles and this Rose Bowl victory, the Buckeyes’ eighth overall in the Granddaddy of Them All.
Meyer cited his health last month in his decision to step down. A cyst in Meyer’s brain causes severe headaches that are even worse in a high-stress job.
After this nail-biting finish in Pasadena, it’s easy to see why anyone might need a break from the madness of college football.
And after Southern California’s epic win over Penn State and Georgia’s double-overtime thriller over Oklahoma over the past two years in Pasadena, the Rose Bowl got another matchup full of late-game fireworks.
Browning passed for 313 yards and Gaskin rushed for 121 in the final game of the four-year starters’ landmark careers at Washington, which has lost three straight New Year’s Six bowl games.
But after three poor offensive quarters, the Pac-12 champions made it awfully interesting late. The Huskies racked up 266 yards of offense in the fourth, but they had fallen too far behind in their first Rose Bowl game appearance in 18 years.
Coach Chris Petersen dropped to 1-4 in bowls during his otherwise remarkable tenure at Washington, including consecutive defeats in the Peach, Fiesta and Rose.
This game could be Haskins’ farewell to Ohio State as well, if the sophomore goes pro. The Heisman Trophy finalist threw his 50th TD pass of the season in the first half while picking away at the vaunted Washington secondary minus injured Taylor Rapp, the second-team All-American safety.
Berry caught a 1-yard TD pass just 14 seconds before halftime, putting the Buckeyes up 21-3.
Gaskin became the fourth running back in NCAA history with four 1,200-yard seasons during the third quarter, but Ohio State increased its lead with J.K. Dobbins’ TD run.
The Huskies finally scored their first offensive touchdown since the Apple Cup when Gaskin threw a TD pass to Drew Sample with 12:17 to play.
Meyer says his first Rose Bowl is the final game in his three-decade collegiate coaching career. After starting out as a graduate assistant at Ohio State in the 1980s, he has been a head coach since 2001, achieving huge success at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida before his stellar run in Columbus.
After this big finish in Pasadena, Meyer formally turns over the Ohio State program to Ryan Day, his 39-year-old co-offensive coordinator. These Buckeyes are Meyer’s eighth team to finish with one loss or fewer in his 17 seasons as a head coach.
Although Meyer’s final season began with an embarrassing three-game suspension over his mismanagement of domestic abuse accusations against former assistant Zach Smith, Day filled in capably during his absence. Meyer then propelled the Buckeyes to another largely dominant regular season, even without star defensive lineman Nick Bosa — although they missed out on the playoff thanks to one blowout loss to Purdue.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes carved up Michigan and Northwestern through the air to reach the Rose Bowl, and their fluid offense did enough to beat Washington despite punting five straight drives late in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State fans can only wonder whether this bunch of Buckeyes would have done better than overmatched Notre Dame or Oklahoma in the playoff semifinals.
Washington: The loss wrapped up a nightmare football season for the Pac-12. The Huskies were the class of the conference, but they’ll be frustrated with a campaign bookended by losses to national powers Auburn and Ohio State.
Ohio State: Day is now the 25th head coach in program history, and he has plenty of work to do. Haskins could be the first quarterback drafted if he leaves, and he’s just one key contributor who must be replaced. But Meyer has built a finely tuned machine in Columbus, and he seems certain Day is the man to drive it forward.
Washington: Replacing the most prolific quarterback and running back in program history will be no easy task, but many Huskies fans are excited to see what the next generation of skill-position players can do. Petersen has built a powerhouse in his half-decade in Seattle, and the Huskies’ recruiting skill should keep them in position to contend for a return trip to Pasadena almost every year.