Urban Meyer talks to some of his Ohio State players during the annual Beef Bowl at Lawry's Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Dec. 27, 2018.

Rose Bowl: Buckeyes trying to balance work, pleasure

Washington’s players and scheme might not be the only challenges Ohio State players face in winning the Rose Bowl. 

There’s also the matter of what to do during a week in California, the first trip to the West Coast for many Buckeyes. 

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Football practice fills part of the day, of course, but these are still 18-to-22-year-olds staying in the middle of the action in the country’s second-largest city. 

The Ohio State football team is in California this week for the Rose Bowl -- but there is more to do than just prepare for a game against Washington.

Linebacker Tuf Borland said the team is trying to soak up the history of the Rose Bowl without forgetting they have a job to do — beat the Huskies. 

“We’ve been having a great time so far, but we’re also putting in the work,” Borland said. “We need to lock in when we need to lock in and have fun when we need to have fun.”

So, what have they been up to? 

“I can't speak for everybody else, but I'm really chilling,” Ohio State defensive end Chase Young said. "I guess a lot of people went bowling or stuff like that, but I know after practice my body was sore. I went and got a good meal and just chilled in the room. I don't want to do too much. I'm coming here, they say your last game is the game you're going to remember, so I'm just trying to go out right for next year.

“I think the whole team, we haven't been doing too much. We didn't forget why we came here. So everybody is chilling.” 

Fellow defensive end Jonathan Cooper said he took some time to explore downtown, including the “L.A. Live” entertainment district that includes the Staples Center, the city’s convention center, an ESPN Zone, the Grammy Museum and numerous restaurants. 

“Yeah, man. I'm in L.A.,” Cooper said. “I've never been to L.A. before, never been to California. I want to enjoy the experience. I went to L.A. Live last night, walked around there, saw people ice skating. I never been ice skating before, I might do that. I'm just here to enjoy the experience because I mean, not a lot of opportunities come like this, you know? No. 1 is to win the game, of course.” 

The Rose Bowl provides activities, too. 

Players from both teams spent time at Disneyland on Wednesday, and the “Beef Bowl” at Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant in Beverly Hills is an annual activity full of pomp and circumstance. 

Cooper was chosen to spin the first salad while center Michael Jordan was selected to cut the first piece of prime rib Thursday, mimicking the unique table-side cart service offered by the 80-year-old restaurant. 

The Beef Bowl bills itself as maintaining the longest running sponsorship in college bowl game history. 

Started in 1956, the restaurant honors both teams that earn Rose Bowl bids. It used to include a competition to see which team could eat the most meat, but that ended in the 1970s when founder Richard N. Frank decided the contest served as a distraction. 

“This is special,” Cooper said. “I can honestly say I’ve never been a part of anything like this. I don’t know if it’s just me being out in L.A. or if it’s me salad spinning, but I’m really having a blast out here.” 

Buckeyes work against each other at the StubHub Center south of Los Angeles.

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