The Ohio State Buckeyes are no strangers to AT&T Stadium, the site of their 2015 National Championship victory and last year’s 24-7 win over USC in the Cotton Bowl. Overall, the team will look to make it a perfect 7-0 playing in the Lone Star State when they take on No. 15 TCU Saturday night at 8:00 p.m.
The Buckeyes, coming into the game ranked fourth in the AP Poll, have handled business so far in the absence of head coach Urban Meyer, whose three-game suspension will come to an end following this bout with the Horned Frogs. Against two inferior opponents in Oregon State and Rutgers, Ohio State has scored a whopping 129 points – a 64.5 points-per-game average good for second best in the nation behind only Toledo.
In their last time out, a rain-soaked afternoon in Columbus against the Scarlet Knights, OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins continued to exceed expectations. He finished the game 20 of 23 passing with 233 yards and four touchdowns despite steady rainfall throughout, while running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber added a combined 104 yards and a score on the ground. The Buckeye offense had their way with a Rutgers defense that was simply overmatched by Ohio State’s size and speed.
The defense looked much better than the week before when it let up 31 points to Oregon State. The return of starting safety Jordan Fuller no doubt aided the Buckeye secondary, which allowed only 65 yards passing while recording a pair of interceptions. Ohio State’s defensive line, meanwhile, continues to look like one of the most dominant units in the country, with Nick Bosa and Chase Young combining for three sacks off the edges.
The Horned Frogs will provide the first real test for OSU this season. While the game is technically labeled as a neutral site contest, AT&T Stadium is just 20 minutes from the TCU campus. In a likely hostile environment, the Buckeyes will have their hands full with this Big 12 contender.
TCU’s offense is led by dual-threat QB Shawn Robinson. The 6-foot-2 sophomore out of Desoto, Texas has completed 33 of his 53 passes this season for 336 yards and four touchdowns. He is also the team’s leading rusher, adding another 112 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Buckeye secondary will have their hands full with senior wide receiver KaVontae Turpin. Turpin is a homerun threat every time the ball is in his hands, catching eight passes for 111 yards and a TD while also returning a punt 78 yards for a TD a week ago.
On defense, the Horned Frogs best unit is their defensive line. Losing nose tackle Ross Blacklock to an achilles injury before the year was a big blow, but they are still super talented up front and run a 4-2-5 scheme that gets a bunch of different guys involved. Defensive end Ben Banogu, who forced a fumble that lead to a TD last week against SMU, is arguably their best player on that side of the ball, while Corey Bethley has made some really nice plays from the interior. Their secondary will be a bit of a concern, as they have been prone to letting up the big plays this season – something they cannot afford to do against Ohio State.
TCU has likely not forgotten that it was Ohio State that kept them out of the College Football Playoff in 2014. With all eyes of the college football world on this primetime game, the Horned Frogs will want to show that they are one of the top teams in the Big 12 and in the country with a big-time win over the Buckeyes, who come into the game as 13-point favorites.
This game will be won in the trenches, as TCU will have a really tough time keeping the OSU defensive front out of the backfield. Ohio State will have no easy time blocking the Horned Frogs front either, but the combination of Haskins’ arm speed and plethora of playmakers around him give the Buckeyes a clear advantage. If OSU can contain Robinson and keep their offense moving like it has through the first two games, they should come out victorious in this one.