Hours after Ohio State was excluded from College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl match-up everyone already knew became official: No. 9 Washington will face the No. 6 Buckeyes in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
“Ended up right where we hoped to be, playing a really awesome team in a big-time game that has so much history with this school and program,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said Sunday. “Really thrilled to be going there.”
The teams have never faced each other in the Rose Bowl, or any bowl game. Ohio State leads the all-time series 8-3.
Petersen doesn’t know much about this season’s Ohio State team yet, he said, but he is familiar with Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer. The two have known each other for a while. When Petersen was hired at UW, he spent a few days with Meyer at Ohio State.
“They’re always going to be a team that’s very elite,” Petersen said. “Four-team playoff, they’re right there. That’s kind of how (Meyer) does it.”
Petersen knows what it’s like to be on the edge, waiting to find out if your team was selected for the College Football Playoff. When the Huskies were in that position in 2016, they were given the No. 4 spot. This season, Ohio State ended up on the other side of the equation.
“I think those things are hard,” Petersen said. “There’s like three teams that are all right there that could make a good case for it. I know if you’re one of those teams, it’s really, really frustrating. I mean, really frustrating.
“It’s coming down to one game. This thing is so hard to be perfect all season long. That’s what it kind of comes down to. The rest, it’s just all subjective. That’s the system we’re living in right now. It worked out for us. If it doesn’t, it would be really hard.”
Petersen was then asked about Washington State’s fate. The Cougars finished the season 10-2, but were No. 13 in Sunday’s College Football Playoff rankings. They were behind three three-loss teams in No. 10 Florida, No. 11 LSU and No. 12 Penn State.
Florida will face Michigan in the Peach Bowl, while LSU will play UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. Texas, who finished 9-4 and ranked No 15, was also given a New Year’s Six bowl. The Longhorns will play Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
Washington State will play Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl.
“Like all that stuff, it’s hard,” Petersen said. “Washington State is a heck of a team, they really are. That’s why I’m proud of this team. The only thing we can control is really like: You win your league, you know what’s going to happen. That’s all you can worry about, is what you can control. The rest is just a bunch of noise and frustration and those type of things.”
Petersen went on to address the perception of the Pac-12 Conference following the Huskies 10-3 victory over Utah in the conference championship on Friday.
“We played in the Pac-12 championship game with two elite defenses and everybody’s down on that,” Petersen said. “And yet a couple years ago, there’s a couple SEC teams playing 9-6 games and it’s, ‘This is a tough conference. Great defense and this is how it should be.’ Not now here for us. You can’t worry about that stuff. You just got to go play, do your thing and try to control what you can control.”
No. 2 Alabama defeated No. 1 LSU 9-6 in a regular season game in 2011.
As for the Huskies, they’ll be making their 15th Rose Bowl appearance, which is tied for the third-most in the game’s history. They’re also playing in a bowl game for the ninth-straight season. Last season, UW fell to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.
“That’s why I’m proud of these kids,” Petersen said. “This isn’t a one time thing. These guys are getting us to big-time bowl games and that’s when you can kind of say something about your program. This isn’t like a one-time thing. This is who you’re going to be.”