Ohio State is used to being in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. It is also used to being one of the first teams left out of the top four.
For the third time in the five years of the playoff’s existence, and the second year in a row, the Buckeyes finished as one of the three highest-ranked teams to miss out on a chance at the national championship.
In 2017, head coach Urban Meyer said he expected to be in. This year, not so much, as his team finished behind both Big 12 champion Oklahoma and two-loss Georgia.
But the consolation prize is one Meyer is excited about.
“I’ve dreamt of it. I dreamt of it. We came close a couple of times,” Meyer said. “No disrespect to the other bowl games because they are awesome, but the Rose Bowl is the one we have always looked forward to.”
The Buckeyes will travel to Pasadena, California, to play in the Rose Bowl, the bowl once nicknamed “The Granddaddy of Them All.” It will be Meyer’s first trip to Pasadena in his 27 seasons as a head coach.
He still remembers watching the game as a kid.
“I do remember watching the Rose Bowl, watching the Rose Bowl parade. You know, Woody Hayes and the great players, Buckeyes going out there,” Meyer said. “I just got that visual: Ohio State-USC playing in the Rose Bowl as a kid growing up.”
Even with the excitement to play in what many consider to be the most historic bowl game of any, Ohio State still is playing in a consolation bowl game for the second straight season.
Redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said he was surprised to see Ohio State outside of the top four, reminding him of the situation a season ago. But he does not blame the committee for the decision.
“It was a little bit of a deja vu moment,” Jones said. “I felt like we left our destiny in the hands of the committee instead of our own hands.”
On the other hand, Ohio State’s opponent, No. 9 Washington, is excited at the opportunity to take on the Buckeyes, a program that head coach Chris Petersen called “one of the most storied, premier programs in the country.”
“That’s one game that this program has not been in for a long, long time,” Petersen said. “I think there’s a lot of excitement there and, certainly you throw in Ohio State … I mean all that adds to a lot of excitement.”
But Petersen also understands the disappointment the Buckeyes might be feeling after being 12-1 Big Ten Champions with an impressive resume of wins against two top-12 teams.
Petersen is one of many calling for an expanded College Football Playoff. He said he thinks “everybody wants that thing to get expanded, and hopefully it will soon.”
“I think there’s gonna be a ton of excitement to go down to Pasadena. I mean I think that the Rose Bowl carries that much weight, I really do,” Petersen said. “I know Ohio State can easily, with their resume, be in that four-team tournament, there’s no doubt about it, and so that’s hard and that’s disappointing to not be able to have an opportunity when it really becomes a subjective beauty pageant from there.”
It might not be the playoff, it might not be Ohio State’s chance to claim its second national title under the new format, but Meyer and his team are still excited.
For Meyer, it is his first opportunity for his team to play in the bowl game he’s said he’s always wanted a chance to coach in.
For players like Jones, who first thinks of watching the Reggie Bush era at USC as a kid when he thinks of the Rose Bowl, it’s something much simpler than that.
It’s his first time in the state of California.
“At the end of the day it is what it is, we play Washington in Pasadena, California, and I’ve never been to California before, so I’m excited,” Jones said.