Getty Images

Miscues from No. 15 TCU allow No. 4 Ohio State to storm back for win to go 3-0 without Urban Meyer

18 Comments

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.

No. 15 TCU giving No. 4 Ohio State everything it can handle going into halftime

Getty Images
2 Comments

Tempo was the operative word at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night in primetime as No. 15 TCU gave No. 4 Ohio State everything it could handle and took a surprising 14-13 lead into halftime of a fun back-and-forth game down in the Metroplex.

The Horned Frogs looked dangerous from the get-go, marching right down the field as part of a 69 yard opening drive that unfolded at lightning speed before the Buckeyes could even get going. However, a holding penalty took away a touchdown on the drive and then the team wound up missing a field goal attempt.

Ohio State converted on their initial field goal attempt but it was star defensive end Nick Bosa who forced the first touchdown of the game, bursting out of his stance to strip quarterback Shawn Robinson — with Davon Hamilton falling on the ball in the end zone for the score. It was a break for the Buckeyes that the play wasn’t looked at closer as replays appeared to show at least one player touched the ball while out-of-bounds, which would have made the play a safety.

Those five points were notable considering the Horned Frogs answered right back with another lightning-quick drive down the field. Robinson, who finished the half with 134 yards, made several impressive downfield throws and set up tailback Sewo Olonilua (30 yards rushing), who sliced his way through to the end zone for a score. TCU was not done however, responding later in second quarter with an incredible 93 yard Darius Anderson run that featured the speedster  breaking a tackle and bursting down the sidelines to set off a raucous celebration among the purple-clad fans in Arlington.

Anderson’s sprint to the end zone was the longest run from scrimmage in Horned Frogs history — and doubled as the longest play the Buckeyes had ever given up. Considering the history of both programs, that’s makes the run even more incredible.

Remember, this is the first time Ohio State has really been tested by a good team after two early blowouts of bad teams to begin the season. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in the first two weeks but still finished with 148 yards passing. He was hurt a bit by drops from his receivers while running backs Mike Weber (32 yards) and J.K. Dobbins (65 yards for the Texas native) kept the chains moving for the most part.

Garry Patterson almost always gives ranked teams a game and that looks like the case once again. Both sides sport quality defenses but the skill position talent for both teams on offense has really been the story so far in this one. The second half awaits as both teams find themselves locked into a good one with serious College Football Playoff implications.

No. 16 TCU fries SMU to retain ownership of Iron Skillet

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
2 Comments

Although things may not have started off well for No. 16 TCU (2-0) after a weather delay pushed back the start of Friday night’s game by about 50 minutes, the Horned Frogs got everything in gear in the second half to defeat rival SMU (0-2) by a score of 42-12. KaVontae Turpin had a punt return for a touchdown and a 42-yard touchdown catch to help light the spark for TCU and help slam the door shut on the Mustangs. This is the seventh year in a row TCU has won the rivalry game as they continue to maintain possession of the Iron Skillet.

TCU’s defense shut down opportunities for SMU in the second half. Two plays after TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson (15/28, 146 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 67 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD) threw an interception on the opening drive of the second half, Ben Banogu forced a fumble by SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (18/38, 111 yards) and Alec Dunham returned the loose ball 25 yards for a touchdown. Down 21-12, SMU never had a drive longer than 13 yards the rest of the night until their next-to-last possession. By then, TCU had a 30-point lead.

Robinson rushed 18 yards for a touchdown to extend the TCU lead to 28-12 in the third quarter and his 42-yard pass to Turpin in the fourth quarter made any threat of an upset vanish as Gary Patterson soon started feeling comfortable getting some of his starters on the sideline for the remainder of the game. Michael Collins took advantage of that opportunity by running 10 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

TCU will now get one extra day of rest to begin focusing on their next game. TCU will meet Big Ten favorite Ohio State in Arlington, Texas in Week 3. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 4-1-1, but the two programs have not met on the field since 1973. TCU will not be able to afford a slow start against Ohio State next week, because Ohio State will be far more likely to put points on the scoreboard whereas SMU jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never found an offensive rhythm after that.

SMU limps out to a 0-2 start with losses to TCU and North Texas, and neither has been particularly pretty. SMU will find it difficult to pick up the first win under head coach Sonny Dykes. Next week, the Mustangs head into Big Ten territory to play Ohio State’s rivals, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan dropped their season opener at Notre Dame in Week 1, but Jim Harbaugh has a good chance to get his Wolverines into a comfort zone the next two weekends. SMU will host AAC opponent Navy the following week and may be looking to find its first win of the season at the end of September with a home game against Houston Baptist on Sept. 29.

After weather delay and sloppy start, TCU leads SMU at halftime

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a delay of roughly 50 minutes, it looked as though TCU would be in for a potential upset against SMU in Dallas. The Mustangs took a 9-0 lead in the first quarter as the Horned Frogs looked sloppy at the start, but a special teams touchdown and a fortunate bounce of a fumbled football have put TCU on top at halftime, 14-12.

Smu took the opening possession of the game down the field for a touchdown thanks in large part to a 51-yard touchdown run by Braeden West, giving the home team a nice early jolt in this rivalry game. With TCU’s offense out of sorts on their first two drives, a special teams miscue led to two more points for SMU when a botched punt attempt was accidentally kicked by an SMU player out of the end zone.

Down 9-0, TCU needed a spark, and it was only fitting that KaVontae Turpin would provide it on a record-setting punt return. Turpin returned a punt 48 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter to get the visiting Horned Frogs on the board. It was the fifth special teams touchdown of Turpin’s career.

After a quick three-and-out by SMU their next time on the field, TCU’s offense benefited from a fumbled football out of the hands of Sewo Olonilua taking a bounce where a streaking Jaelan Austin had no problem recovering the football in the end zone for a go-ahead score.

 

CFT 2018 Preseason Previews: The Big 12

Getty Images
11 Comments

The Big 12 is the most quarterback-driven of all QB-driven leagues, and 2018 represents a major changing of the guard. Gone is Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield, and so, too, are Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, TCU’s Kenny Hill, Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek and Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz. West Virginia returns Heisman candidate Will Grier, but the next-highest returning passer is Texas’s Sam Ehlinger, who threw for all of 1,915 yards as a true freshman in 2017. This is going to be a wide-open year and, as such, a year where the unpredictable will reign supreme over the predictable. It’s an off-year in the Big 12’s your turn/my turn College Football Playoff rotation with the Pac-12, and a year where a young, ascendant team (Baylor?) is likely to rise up and wreck the season of a favored team who is among the best in the land (Oklahoma? West Virginia? TCU?) who’s wobbly from the most difficult week-to-week grind in college football. (Don’t @ me.)

Oklahoma enters as the prohibitive favorite, but the Sooners lose a lot of production from 2017. You know about Mayfield, but Lincoln Riley also loses All-American pass rusher Obo Okoronkwo, All-American left tackle Orlando Brown and All-American tight end Mark Andrews, as well as Swiss army knife fullback Dimitri FlowersKyler Murray will add an extra dimension to Oklahoma’s running game, but can a 5-foot-9 quarterback sit back in the pocket and pick people apart when necessary?

West Virginia enters as OU’s top challenger, and the combination of Grier, Gary Jennings (97 catches for 1,096 yards in 2017) and David Sills (60 grabs for 980 yards and 18 touchdowns) is easily the conference’s most fearsome passing attack. Dana Holgorsen thinks his team finally has the defense and the depth to survive the year-long grind of the Big 12, but he seemingly says that every year. Making four cross-country trips a year is a unique challenge that any program would struggle to solve, though WVU does get Oklahoma and TCU in Morgantown. TCU replaces Hill with Gary Patterson‘s highest-regarded quarterback recruit ever in sophomore Shawn Robinson. He should team with KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Reagor to give the Frogs plenty of sizzle, and TCU’s front seven is probably the scariest in the league, but the Frogs’ four new offensive line starters will have to grow up in a hurry.

Texas has a lot to like on an individual level, but skepticism is warranted until the quarterback position is sorted out. This is a league where 40 touchdowns responsible for from your starting quarterback is a prerequisite for winning the conference title, and Ehlinger and Shane Buechele combined for 22 in 2017. Oklahoma State won’t be as good as they were last year after losing Rudolph and James Washington but will still be much better than you assume they’ll be, which is exactly how Mike Gundy prefers it. Iowa State will be just good enough to ruin your season but not good enough to seriously contend for the league title. Texas Tech enters the year with more question marks on offense than defense for the first time since the 19th century, which could be considered a very good sign considering Kliff Kingsbury will never field a bad offense. Baylor was much better than last year’s 1-11 record, and Matt Rhule‘s 17 returning starters, led by sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer, means this will be the league’s most improved team — and perhaps the country’s. Kansas State will be about as pleasant to play as a root canal, and junior quarterback Alex Delton will again be a nightmare to contain. David Beaty returns 19 starters and enters a last-chance season to show marked progress with new AD Jeff Long watching.

Before we get to the predictions, consider that the Big 12 is annually a league where the gap between No. 3 and No. 8 is small enough to slip a notecard through, and especially so this year.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Oklahoma
2. Texas
3. West Virginia
4. TCU
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Kansas State
8. Baylor
9. Texas Tech
10. Kansas

IN SHORT…