Everybody wondered how No. 4 Ohio State would fare in their biggest non-conference test of the year that also doubled their final game without head coach Urban Meyer. As it turns out, not too shabby.
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes used a series of third quarter miscues from a pesky No. 15 TCU squad to flip momentum and help storm away with a 40-28 victory on Saturday night and move to 3-0 on the season.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins didn’t quite look as good as he did in the team’s first two games but he eventually was able to figure out Gary Patterson’s difficult defense as the night went on. The budding Heisman candidate left AT&T Stadium with 24 completions for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns while tailback J.K. Dobbins, playing in his home state once again, rushed for 121 yards on the ground. Fellow back Mike Weber chipped in with another 64 on the ground, many of which were runs that helped salt away the game by running clock down the stretch.
Far more impressive was the Buckeyes defense. Despite allowing over 500 yards, the group forced three huge turnovers — two for touchdowns — recorded three sacks and seven tackles for loss. Though attention in Columbus will turn to the return of Meyer next week, the status of star defensive end Nick Bosa will also be front and center for the team after he was injured in the third quarter with what was officially labeled a lower abdomen strain.
The final scoreline didn’t properly indicate how close the Horned Frogs kept his one for most of the night. Signal-caller Shawn Robinson threw for 308 yards and a touchdown (two INTs) while really pushing the tempo early in the game to catch the Buckeyes off-balance. Darius Anderson also introduced himself to a national audience, finishing with 154 yards and a pair of touchdown runs, the first of which went 93 yards along the sidelines that doubled as the longest run in school history and the longest given up by the powerhouse on the other sideline.
If there was one regret for Patterson however, it likely came in a four-minute stretch that all but doomed TCU due in part to their own miscues.
It all started by giving up a Parris Campbell screen play for 63 yards, with the OSU receiver weaving his way to the end zone and through a few arm tackles. On the next series, Dremont Jones stepped in front of a shovel pass and looked much more like a fullback than a defensive tackle as he slipped two tackles and wound up in the end zone.
The Horned Frogs thought they could swing momentum back and made the gutsy call to try some trickeration on the ensuing kickoff. After having a player lay flat in the end zone, the return man was supposed to lateral the ball to him but wound up throwing an illegal forward pass on a play that could have gone for a touchdown. The special teams woes continued on the same series as a bad snap on the punt led to the kick getting partially blocked. Ohio State promptly scored on the next snap with a 25 yard touchdown pass and turn a one-time deficit into a 12 point lead that kept growing as the second half continued.
As a result, the Buckeyes will remain in the thick of the College Football Playoff conversation as they look to be carrying the banner for their conference after a rough Saturday in the Big Ten. Bosa’s health will be a big concern going forward given his obvious impact but attention will no doubt turn to the return of Meyer next week against Tulane at the Horseshoe.
Still, OSU was certainly pushed at time by a TCU team that used tempo effectively throughout the night and look like they have the kind of playmakers to push Oklahoma in the Big 12. They’ll have to regroup quickly in Fort Worth given the upcoming slate but there’s no shame in losing to the Buckeyes based on what we saw in Arlington.