8:00 PM EST, ABC – Line: Ohio State -13.5, Over/Under: 59
A crucial opportunity for portfolio enhancement lies ahead as the Fourth-Ranked Ohio State Buckeyes and Fifteenth-Ranked Texas-Christian Horned Frogs battle at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in an interconference meeting of ranked opponents. For Ohio State (2-0, 0-0 in Big Ten), it’s hard to imagine a better start without the presence of Urban Meyer, who will be vacant from the sidelines for the third and final time after serving a school-sanctioned ban due to his role in a sexual abuse scandal involving a former member of his Coaching Staff. Needless to say, given the volume of negative press that had be thrown at Columbus over the past month, getting off to an unblemished start to the campaign was highly ideal. And it’s with that said, that Interim Head Coach Ryan day has done a commendable job of keeping the team together, and lighting a fire under his charges, who appear to have taken matters rather personally in their first two outings of the season. The Buckeyes’ season opening devastation of Oregon State (77-31) was particularly noteworthy with the Offense exploding for a ridiculous Seventy-Seven Points on 723 Total Yards despite committing a pair of Turnovers. After all, it’s not often that you concede Thirty-One Points and manage to win by Forty-Four. However, the fact that the Defense managed to yield that many points and nearly 400 Total Yards left some to question if this unit would go on to struggle after having to replace so many standout players that have been drafted over the years. Well, it’s safe to say that those concerns were quelled in short order, for in the following week, Ohio State completely nullified Rutgers in a 52-3 beatdown. While the Offense again moved the football with frightening ease (579 Total Yards), the Defense absolutely squatted on the Scarlet Knights, permitting a scant 134 Total Yards, including a miserable 11-of-30 Passing for just Sixty-Five Yards. On the opposite side of the football, Sophomore Quarterback Dwayne Haskins (79.2%, 546 YDS, 10.3 Y/A, 9 TD, 1 INT) was again deadly efficient, completing all but three of his Twenty-Three Passing Attempts for 233 Yards and Four Touchdowns before calling it a day late in the Third Quarter. Many of the Buckeye faithful made the argument that the heralded recruit should have wrested the starting job away from his predecessor J.T. Barrett a year ago, and it’s not difficult to see why they felt such a way, for Haskins certainly appears to have the goods to be the next great signal-caller in Columbus. Saturday’s matchup with the Horned Frogs should present him with his first true test, for their Defense is always one of the better in the country against the Pass, with plenty of speed and athleticism to close quickly on errant throws and erase passing windows. Fortunately, he’s had one helluva Running Game to help him out, for that it always the best friend of any young Quarterback. Ohio State has churned out an average of 301.0 Yards per Game on the ground, netting a healthy 6.5 Yards per Carry in the process, led by Mike Weber (28 CAR, 217 YDS, 3 TD), a Redshirt Junior who due to injuries and very talented teammates has had to bide his time in the Backfield throughout his career. They say that good things come to those who wait, and that may well be true for this kid, who may have finally earned the role as the Buckeyes’ lead ‘Back; Weber was dynamic against Oregon State, rushing for 186 Yards and Three Touchdowns on Twenty Carries before getting yanked along with the rest of the starters in the aforementioned victory over Rutgers.
Meanwhile, TCU (2-0, 0-0 in Big XII) may be downplaying this meeting with Ohio State, but we don’t buy it for a single moment, for this is the kind of matchup that could potentially vault them into the College Football Playoff discussion. And quite frankly, it’s certainly lining up that way. The Buckeyes are without Meyer for one more weekend, and while Saturday’s contest will be contested on a “neutral field”, the Horned Frogs should have the crowd in their favor given the location being Arlington, Texas. It will also serve as the Buckeyes first Road Game of the season, with a young Quarterback may we add, which is sounding more and more like a recipe for an upset no matter how much Gary Patterson downplays matters. However, if there is something that the venerable Head Coach will not downplay, it’s the need for his team to avoid the slow start that they experienced in last Friday’s 42-12 victory over SMU. Texas-Christian fell behind early, allowing a 51-Yard Touchdown Run followed shortly thereafter by a Safety, with the scoreboard reading 9-0 at the end of the First Quarter. Fortunately, the visiting side would kick things into high gear afterward, outscoring Southern Methodist 42-3 the rest of the way. The Horned Frogs often score in a multitude of ways, and this outing was no different, with KaVontae Turpin (8 REC, 111 YDS, 1 TD) turning the tide early in the second stanza with a 78-Yard Punt Return for a Touchdown, while Jaelan Austin (4 REC, 33 YDS) returned a Fumble one yard for another score to take the lead. Senior Linebacker Alec Dunham (10 TKL, 1.5 TFL, 1 FR, 1 TD) got into the act as well, returning another Fumble Twenty-Five Yards to paydirt, while Turpin again torched the Mustangs, this time on 42-Yard Touchdown Reception early in the Fourth Quarter. Of course, the main storyline throughout that outing and by extension the season, will be the development of Shawn Robinson (61.5%, 328 YDS, 6.3 Y/A, 4 TD, 1 INT) at Quarterback. The Sophomore played sparingly in 2017, attempting just Twenty-Seven Passes in spot duty, but has earned the full-time gig in 2018, and in two showings thus far has given us reason to why Patterson and the Coaching Staff are so high on him. He was solid in the 55-7 Season Opener against Southern, and despite making some early mistakes against SMU, really managed to ride the momentum of his teammates, particularly given the play of the Defense and Special Teams. Robinson completed 15-of-28 Passes for 146 Yards, a Touchdown and an Interception, though more than made up for it with his legs, rushing for Sixty-Seven Yards and another Score on Eight Carries. With that said, he’ll need to take better care of the football against the Buckeyes, while incorporating his versatility whenever possible in an attempt to keep their Defense off balance. This is the start of a crucial stretch for the Horned Frogs, who face in-state rival Texas next week, with Iowa State looming afterward. This is seventh all-time meeting between these two Programs, their first since 1973, with the Buckeyes holding a 4-1-1 record, with the Frogs’ only win coming in 1957.