Playtime is over for the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes as they prepare for their first real test of the 2018 season as they will travel to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas to face the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday. The Big XII squad, led by electric quarterback Shawn Robinson will give the Buckeye defense all that it can handle.
We chatted with Jamie Plunkett, one of the managing editors of SB Nation’s TCU blog Frogs O’ War about what Ohio State fans should expect from the Horned Frogs on Saturday night.
LGHL: For both Ohio State and TCU, this is the first real test of the season. Despite the rough August, OSU fans are pretty confident in their team. What is the feeling around the Horned Frogs heading into Saturday?
Jamie Plunkett: I think the fanbase, for the most part, realizes that this is a premier matchup where TCU is the clear underdog. So there’s hope, drawn from an understanding that TCU has been in this position before and often found success.
As Gary Patterson said in his press conference earlier this week, “We’ve always done things people said we couldn’t do, so we’ll try to do that again this weekend.” For a lot of fans the “Little Sisters of the Poor” comments from Gordon Gee, and the way 2014 wound up with TCU being left out and OSU getting into the College Football Playoff, adds some significance, but in reality those things don’t need to be added for Frog fans to understand how big this game is for the program.
TCU is still, despite being in the Big 12 and winning 11-plus games in three of the last four seasons, fighting a perception battle nationally, and a win on Saturday would be another step towards rectifying that perception.
LGHL: While the back-seven for Ohio State has been up-and-down so far this year (especially against Oregon State), the defensive line has been near flawless. However, they haven’t faced a multi-talented quarterback like Shawn Robinson yet this season. What does he do that will make him a unique challenge for Nick Bosa, Dre’Mont Jones, Chase Young, and company?
Jamie Plunkett: He’s big (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and incredibly mobile, so that in and of itself will cause some issues. He doesn’t go down easy, is incredibly fast (especially for his size), and he likes to move around to create throwing lanes, all of which should keep that slew of talent along OSU’s line from pinning their ears back constantly. When you have as talented a D-line as Ohio State has not much is going to throw you off, but his mobility should create a few opportunities for TCU’s offense through the game.
LGHL: TCU likely has more offensive playmakers than the Buckeyes saw in their first two games combined. Is there a way to neutralize the offense as a whole, or will Ohio State need to pick its poison to either shut down the passing game with Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin, or the running game with Darius Anderson and Sewo Onilula?
Jamie Plunkett: Defending guys in space will be key for the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s defense has great speed, but so do TCU’s skill players. Realistically, too, TCU’s offensive line is still gelling a bit. Disrupting the line and stopping the run could be the key to slowing TCU’s offense overall, as Robinson has only been marginal with his accuracy in the first two games of the season. If he’s forced to throw 50 times in this game and is bottled up on the ground, that will be problematic for the Frogs.
LGHL: Coming into the season, defensive tackle Ross Blacklock was expected to be a major part of TCU’s line. How have Corey Bethley and Joseph Broadnax done in solidifying the defensive front?
Jamie Plunkett: Losing Ross Blacklock was a huge blow to the Frogs, no doubt. Corey Bethley was overshadowed last year by Blacklock, Ben Banogu and Mat Boesen all having incredible seasons, but don’t let that fool you. This kid is an absolute monster, and he showed that on Saturday. He’s a natural 3-tech, and that’s what he moved back to against SMU, where he recorded three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Joe Broadnax saw his first game of the season Saturday as well (he was suspended for week one), which allowed Bethley to move back to his natural spot. Broadnax is a talented guy who has seen folks like Blacklock pass him on the depth chart.
Realistically though, Broadnax will be part of a rotation at DT, with Terrell Cooper and George Ellis, two talented redshirt freshman. TCU is also a bit more dependent on their ends to make noise without Blacklock.
Ben Banogu is the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s coming off an 8.5 sack season. L.J. Collier is a big body (6-4, 276) that adds to the depth at end, along with converted linebacker Ty Summers, who has two sacks in his first two games of the season. Collier is back in action for the first time this season, but he’s not on a snap count and should be ready to go.
LGHL: For any Buckeye fans making the trip to Texas, between “GameDay” in the morning and kickoff in the evening, there’s a lot of time to kill. Any recommendations for places they should visit, things they should do, or places they should eat?
Jamie Plunkett: It depends on where they’re all staying. For the folks in Fort Worth - head downtown to Sundance Square, or to the Stockyards. Joe T. Garcia’s is the touristy Tex Mex destination with potent margaritas, but there’s better food to be had at some hole in the wall places around town. I personally love El Rancho Grande and Los Asaderos. Of course, there’s Texas BBQ to be had as well. Pretty much anywhere will suffice, but Angelo’s is top notch.
Fort Worth has a pretty solid museum district too, and some good spots to sit and watch football, over off of 7th and University. Or, head to campus and eat at Dutch’s Hamburgers (the home of the Frogs O’ War Podcast) or Buffalo Brothers.
In Dallas, head to Deep Ellum, Lower Greenville, or Bishop Arts for great food and entertainment. I’d avoid Uptown, unless getting hammered with 22 year olds is your thing.
LGHL: What is your prediction for what happens on Saturday night?
I really want to pick TCU, but I think this is too much of a mountain to climb. If the offense was a bit more solidified and Robinson a hair more experienced, I’d go with the Frogs, but I’ll say Ohio State 38, TCU 35.
The No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the No. 15 TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. ET in a game to be broadcast on ABC. Land-Grant Holy Land and Frogs O’ War will have you covered from both sides of the primetime, marquee matchup as we head into the weekend.