ESPN’s “College GameDay” made the right choice coming to the Ohio State Buckeyes-TCU Horned Frogs matchup this week. Back-and-forth action in the first half showcased the Buckeye defensive line’s strength, as well as Dwayne Haskins’ passing ability in big games. In the second half, though, Ohio State overcame their one-point halftime deficit, and defeated the No. 15 Horned Frogs, 40-28.
The Buckeye defense was the difference maker. Nick Bosa forced a fumble, which was picked up in the TCU endzone for a touchdown by Davon Hamilton. Dre’Mont Jones also got in on the turnover party. He intercepted a Shawn Robinson shuffle pass, and ran it back for a 28-yard score. In the waning minutes of the game, Malik Harrison snagged a Robinson pass—sealing the game. On the sacking side, Bosa, Jones and Jonathon Cooper tallied one apiece.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins kept up his passing momentum for the third-straight game. His numbers began to really shine in the third quarter during the Bucks’ comeback, as he made two TD scoring strikes. One went to Parris Campbell on a screen pass, which was taken to the house from 63 yards out. Not long after that, Haskins put up a floater to K.J. Hill, he hauled in the the pass falling down for a 24-yard TD. For the game, Haskins completed 24-of-38 passes for 344 yards.
In a homecoming of sorts, running back J.K. Dobbins crossed the 100-yard mark. He ended the game with 18 carries and 121 yards, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt. Mike Weber had 17 carries for 64 yards, and crossed a milestone in the process: the 2,000 yard rushing career club.
Receiving was challenging at times for OSU. Austin Mack caught four passes for 84 yards, but managed to make a large handful of drops—he was targeted nine times in total. Hill caught six passes for 95 yards, and Campbell had two catches for 66 yards.
TCU was giving the Buckeyes all they could handle early. A 93-yard TD rush by Darius Anderson set a school-record for longest rush, and was the longest offensive play the Buckeye defense gave up in school history. Anderson led all rushers on the field with two scores and 154 yards. In the air, Robinson threw for over 308 yards on 24-of-40 passing. But, TCU miscues led to scoring chances for the Buckeyes
On the first drive of the game, things looked promising for Ohio State. TCU sent the opening kickoff out of bounds, giving the Buckeyes a starting point at their own 35. After Dobbins got stuffed for a 1-yard loss, Haskins went to work. He hit Austin Mack over the middle for 16, then went back to Mack on a deep ball. Mack, who was caught in between two defenders, found enough space to sprawl out and catch the ball at the TCU 2. However, three plays later, the Buckeyes stalled. Sean Nuernberger came in for a 20-yard field goal, and had no problem splitting the uprights... this time.
Just 1:40 was pulled off the clock, as TCU took to the field for their first drive of the night. The Horned Frogs wasted no time moving down the field in the hurry-up offense; they started on their own 17, and within eight plays—all for positive yardage—they got down to the OSU 7. On the ninth play, running back Darius Anderson beat the defense on the nearside for a touchdown. But hold the phone: there was a holding call. TCU got pushed back to the 14, and proceeded to be stopped on the next three plays. Like OSU, the Frogs called out the FG unit; unlike OSU, they missed the kick. Cole Bunce sent the 31-yard kick wide right.
As the Buckeye offense went back to look for more points, they faced a more ferocious defense the second time around. After Haskins found K.J. Hill for a 20-yard connection, TCU clamped down and caused OSU to punt three plays later. Drue Chrisman sent the ball 41 yards to the TCU 7, and that proved to be a little too close for TCU. On the second play of the Horned Frogs’ drive, they ran into a bear of a problem.
Nick Bosa got around the end, and hit Robinson as he was preparing to wind up a pass. The ball tumbled to the back of the endzone before being corralled by the Bucks’ Davon Hamilton for a touchdown. The hurry-up offense works well until it doesn’t. That brought out the jokes on Twitter.
That's kind of a hurry-up offense too if you think about it— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) September 16, 2018
Desperate for points, TCU needed to make the next drive work—or face the game getting out of hand by the end of the first. Fortunately for them, a couple of OSU penalties proved costly, leading to a TCU touchdown.
A pass interference call on Damon Arnette on third-and-7 gave TCU a fresh chance at a TD on the OSU 9. Three plays later, Sewo Olonilua literally dove across the plain of the endzone around two Buckeye defenders for a score. TCU got their TD, and that would be all the scoring we’d see in the first quarter, as OSU maintained a 10-7 advantage.
We’d have to wait six minutes into the second quarter for the next score. Bad news for Buckeye fans: the score wasn’t one for the good guys. Backed up on their own 7, Robinson handed the ball off to Anderson, and he went right up the middle for a school-record 93 yards. His touchdown gave the Horned Frogs their first lead of the night at 14-10.
The rush proved to be the longest offensive play that Ohio State has given up... ever.
Ohio State came back out on offense looking to respond, as they moved the ball down the field thanks to Dobbins. The rebuttal drive featured three carries from the La Grange, Texas native that went for more than 10 yards. But, as soon as the Bucks got to the redzone, TCU dug their collective feet into the ground and held. Nuernberger was summoned for a field goal, and barely squeaked it in through the near post, cutting the deficit to one, 14-13.
Frenetic play on both sides of the ball would continue throughout the quarter, but leading to no other scores. The Buckeyes had a chance, though, at the end of the half to take the lead. However, Nuernberger didn’t get enough rotation on his kick, and it hooked just left of the upright. Halftime brought us a Horned Frog lead (still at 14-13) against the No. 4 team in the land. Below are some of the first half stats.
TCU got the ball to begin the second half, but couldn’t get to midfield. However, during the drive, Nick Bosa left the game with an apparent groin injury; not long after Bosa walked off the field, Kendall Sheffield was assisted off the field, too, with an apparent injury.
Things got worse for OSU over the next couple drives. After committing a three-and-out, Chrisman only got a 34-yard punt—placing TCU’s possession on their own 48. Anderson gashed the Bucks for eight, and then Robinson picked up 28 in the air with a completion to Jarrison Stewart. The next play went back to Anderson, who danced around to the far side of the field before diving at the pylon. After a review, it was determined that he scored a TD; after the extra point, TCU held an eye-opening 21-13 lead.
But, Ohio State would roar back with a big play of their own. With seven minutes left in the third frame, Haskins made his first TD completion on the night, courtesy of a screen pass to Parris Campbell. Campbell hauled in the pass, then cut upfield down the near sideline, gobbling 63 yards of turf for the score. However, a low snap on the two-point conversion attempt led to a rushed (and incomplete) pass to Rashod Berry. The Buckeyes now only trailed 21-19.
However, just three plays later, the Buckeyes would have a five-point lead. Back on offense, TCU’s Robinson tried to shuffle the ball to a WR in front of him, however, Dre’Mont Jones snatched the ball, and ran in back for a big man touchdown. It would be the defense’s second score of the night, but this one put the Buckeyes back on top.
With OSU now up 26-21, TCU was back on the offensive for points. They nearly had it on the ensuing kickoff. A trick play, one where a kick returner laid down in the end zone to hide from the gunners, then the returner threw the ball across the field. The pass was completed, and taken to the house. But hold the phone. A forward pass was called, negating the score.
The bad break bugaboo was still lurking against TCU, as their punt on this drive was mishandled and went a whopping two yards after being deflected. Ohio State wouldn’t be on offense too long, as Haskins launched a floater to Hill in the endzone. He hauled in the catch, propelling the Buckeyes to a 20-point scoring spree in a matter of minutes.
At the end of three, OSU possessed a 33-28 lead.
Not long into the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes would push their lead even more.
The J.K. Dobbins Show picked up in the game’s final act, with him transporting the rock for carries of nine and 10 yards. All of this culminated with Haskins keeping the ball himself for a 5-yard score. With 12:30 left in regulation, OSU held a 40-28 advantage.
With that, OSU had tamed the Horned Frogs.
The Tulane Green Wave are up next for Ohio State. That game will take place next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, with Big Ten Network broadcasting the contest.