2018 Game Preview: Ohio State vs TCU

Ohio State Preview: Ohio State was able to make easy work over an overmatched Rutgers team, who have now gone 3 games without scoring a touchdown against the Silver Bullets. For a complete break down of that game, click here. This game will also be the last game for Urban Meyer’s suspension, however like last week, he will be able to game plan and be at practice with the team.

This week, Ohio State faces their toughest challenge to date, and against a team that will have a better match up talent wise compared to the first two opponents. College GameDay announced they will host their show for this game, and will be set up on TCU campus in Fort Worth, TX, not in front of AT&T Satdium in Arlington, where the actual game will be played. Ohio State fans had this game circled on their calendars, and will make their 3rd appearance to Jerry World in the last 4 years. The previous two games were victories for the Buckeyes; defeating USC in the Cotton Bowl last year, and the historical victory against Oregon in 2015 for the first ever College Football Playoff national championship game.

Dwayne Haskins has continued to impress, and went 20-23 for 233 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2 and a half quarters. You could tell Ryan Day had a limit or score in mind, as he took out his starters early it the third quarter and let the second and third team play the rest of the game. Even without the top talent, Tate Martell finished with a school record perfect passing percentage as he went 10 for 10 for 121 yards and a touchdown. Both quarterbacks I think will see the field in Arlington as they will need as much wrinkles on offense that they can give to disrupt a disciplined Horned Frogs defense.

The running game will need to improve this game. I know the conditions were sloppy last week, and the Rutgers defense seemed to have an answer for the duo of Dobbins and Weber, but this will be a much tougher defensive line they are going against and will need to make plays to help open up the passing game. I have the confidence that they will be able to improve from last week, and we should see both running backs find pay dirt.

The receivers have been impressive to me so far. I know it has been against lesser competition, but its what they are doing without the ball that is the key to a championship team. They are setting up blocks for the runners, and have been crisp on their routes. With the exception of the pass to Parris Campbell against Oregon State, the receivers have been able to make the deep ball catches, and add that element to this prolific offense. It is great to see the tight ends being involved in the passing game as well.

The defense is the unit that will face the toughest challenge this game. With a lot of new faces in the secondary, they will have to face some speedy receivers, including KeVontae Turpin, who returned a punt for a touchdown as well as a receiving touchdown last week against SMU.  The tackles on TCU’s offensive line are potential all Big-12 lineman, and should challenge Nick Bosa and Chase Young. Where we should see the best matchup for the defensives lineman is at the guard and center positions, who are working with fresh faces. I expect Robert Landers and Dre’Mont Jones to disrupt some plays at the line of scrimmage.

My biggest concern for this game is the linebackers who will need to play disciplined and keep their head on a swivel. TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson is the Horned Frogs leading rusher, and will make some plays with his feet if a play breaks down. The previous two games, we have seen moments where the linebackers have over pursued or were out of position, causing big gains against the usual staunch Silver Bullet defense. I expect TCU to use a lot of screens or quick slant passes to try and combat the arguably best defensive line in the country, and attack the weakest part of our defense.

Coach Day deserves a lot of credit on how he has handled this transition. He has the benefit of having two former head coaches on staff as well as the talent on the team, but the way he has handled himself, and approached the media as well as the team, you can see why he has a lot of praise from his peers and should be head coaching another team in the near future.

TCU Preview: A fun fact, none of the players who were on the 2014-15 team are on the current roster. I bring that up because I know it will be an overplayed headline or storyline going into this game. TCU was ranked 3rd in the penultimate playoff rankings, and then were dropped to 5th after Ohio State destroyed Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game, and claimed the final spot for the inaugural College Football Playoff. I am sure Gary Patterson remembers but I don’t think that is going to be the motivation for this team.

TCU has been able to bring in more talent since joining the Big 12, and has challenged for the title most years that is has been in. They know that a big non-conference win will help boost their resume for the committee, and should compete for the Big 12 title with a lot of question marks so far early in the season.

Gary Patterson is in his 19th season with the Horned Frogs, the second longest tenured coach at the school in the country, only trailing Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. He holds an impressive record of 162-57. TCU has found success and stability for this once mid-major program, and continues to bring TCU into the national spotlight.

As reviewed earlier, quarterback Shawn Robinson is a dual threat, leading the team in passing and rushing yards, and has made critical plays in his first two games. He has thrown for 4 touchdowns and 1 interception, but does not have the same throwing ability as Haskins. Robinson should be able to challenge the defense with his ability, and might cause some problems for the back 7 for the Ohio State defense.

TCU also has a pair of running backs who both have over 100 yards rushing for the season with Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. Both backs will be a challenge as well, as TCU rotates them in much like Ohio State with their running back tandem.

The receivers will really challenge the young secondary for the Buckeyes. Wide Receiver KaVontae Turpin leads the team with 111 receiving yards, but also is a threat on the punt return and can turn on the jets for a jet sweep. Jalen Reagor is the other leading target for Robinson, who has 7 receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown. Similar to Ohio State, the receiving core is a wide receiver by committee. TCU likes to use the spread offense and will at times have their big tight ends on the field, but they mostly use four receiver formations.

Gary Patterson is regarded by many as a defensive guru. With the talent he has, he is able to maximize the best out of his players and is able to scheme against some of the most prolific offenses. During the Big 12 Media Days, Patterson mentioned that he had been game planning and watching Ohio State film since the end of last year. You know that he will have his defense ready. What I don’t think they have accounted for is the difference in playing styles between Haskins and Barrett, so they have a smaller sample size for those dynamics, and at least in the first two games, Ohio State’s play calling has been tailored slightly to Haskins’ throwing strengths, where as Barrett had a lot of RPO calls since he was a reliable runner.

Buckeye Spotlight: Dwayne Haskins. This will be the second time this season he has been on the spotlight, but I think this is a game where he has a chance to build on his Heisman hopes, as well as for the nation to see what he can do against a talent opponent. He was able to impress against Michigan last year, but now the ball is in his hands. Lets see if he can still throw for 200+ yards and 4 or more touchdowns against a nationally ranked team.

Horned Frog Spotlight: KaVontae Turpin. He is the equivalent of TCU’s Ted Ginn Jr, where he has the ability to hurt you in a lot of ways. Ohio State has not had to punt a lot so far this season, but if they are in a situation with a return, the punt team better stay in their lanes because he can take it to the house. Also, Fuller might be keyed on Turpin for the intermediate and deep routes, because he has elite breakaway speed.

Water Cooler Stat of the Game: 41. This will mark College GameDay’s 41st appearance for an Ohio State game, with an overall record as 27-13. They are 22-9 as the higher ranked team.

Prediction: Ohio State is going to get TCU’s best effort, and I know this will be a “home” game for the Horned Frogs, but I expect to hear a lot of “O-H-I-O’s” around the stadium for this matchup. The atmosphere should be electric, and a lot of the players are familiar with the stadium. Playing indoors and on turf should be a benefit for both teams, but I think if you look at each position group, Ohio State has the edge in every category and should get a decisive win on the road. TCU will score against this defense because they are too skilled to be shut out, but much like the Oklahoma game in 2016, I expect Ohio State to win this game with their passing game.

Ohio State 42 – TCU 24

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