Written by Adrian Beecher
Arlington, TX – As the talk of “yet to play anyone” sounded in muffled audibles around the college football world for Ohio State, that didn’t change the mantra or focus of the 4th ranked Buckeyes. They rolled into AT&T Stadium, looking to replicate their only two other visits to the stadium, which included a dominant 2017 Cotton Bowl Classic win over USC (24-7), and a dominant College Football Playoff National Title win over Oregon (42-20) in 2015.
Out of the gate, it looked like it would be much of the same.
The Buckeyes opened up the game with a 48-yard pass connection from Dwayne Haskins Jr. to Austin Mack on the 3rd play of the game to get down to the TCU 2-yard line. However, the Horned Frogs were able to hold Ohio State to a 30 yard Sean Nuernberger field goal.
Then after a missed field goal by the Horned Frogs on their ensuing possession, their second drive of the game spelled disaster. Ohio State linebacker Nick Bosa got into the backfield and laid a lick on TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson, forcing a sack-fumble. Davon Hamilton picked it up for for the Buckeyes and took it back to the house to make it 10-0 only 8 minutes and 47 seconds into the game.
Despite the early success, TCU was able to strike back on their ensuing drive with a 6-yard touchdown run from Sewo Olonilua. Then in the 2nd quarter, Darius Anderson broke free for a 93-yard touchdown run to put the Horned Frogs up 14-10. It was the longest run allowed in Ohio State history.
The Buckeyes were able to add a field goal before the half but trailed still 14-13 as the teams went into the locker room.
Early on in the 2nd half, things headed in the direction of a possible upset brewing as the Horned Frogs took advantage of great field position at their own 48-yard line. On the third play of their 2nd drive, TCU pushed their lead to 21-13 as Anderson found his way into the end zone for a 2nd time, this one coming from 16 yards out.
Ohio State was again unable to answer on their next possession and to this point with 7:14 left in the 3rd quarter, Ohio State already had 311 yards of total offense and had yet to find the end zone on the offensive side of the ball. So one could assume, something had to give for the 2nd ranks scoring offense in FBS.
Then, it happened, quick and in a hurry. On their 3rd drive of the 2nd half, after an incomplete pass on 1st down, Haskins Jr. connected on a screen pass with halfback Parris Campbell Jr. who then broke free for a 63 yard TD reception for the Buckeyes to make it 21-19 as they failed on the 2-pt. conversion.
TCU’s next drive ended as quickly as it started with Robinson getting picked off by Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who took it 28 yards to the house. This made it 26-21 OSU with 5:54 left in the 3rd quarter.
On the Horned Frogs next possession, Buckeyes cornerback Shaun Wade made his way into the backfield to block a punt. This set the offense up with a 1st and 10 at the TCU 25 yard line. Two plays later, Haskins connected with K.J. Hill in the end zone to put Ohio State up 33-21, completing what was 3 scores in just 4:01.
“That swing right there — we were trying to find our way a little bit. It’s a second and long. We hit the screen to Parris [Campbell]. Parris comes out back of the back end. We get the turnover by Dre’Mont [Jones], get the ball back and it hit for K.J [Hill]. It went fast right there, and that’s where the game, I think, turned.” said Ohio State interim head coach Ryan Day.
The Horned Frogs would put a cotton swab on the bleeding, as they got into the end zone on their next possession to cut the Buckeye lead to 33-28. However, what they needed was a tourniquet, because the Buckeyes could smell the blood in the water and didn’t waste any time going in for the knockout.
Ohio State then answered with an 8-play 75-yard drive, taking 3:36 off the clock and taking a 40-28 lead over TCU with only 12:30 left to play in the game. The Buckeyes defense would only allow 13 more plays and 51 yards from the TCU offense to finish the game. They would cap this off with an interception by linebacker Malik Harrison for the 3rd forced turnover by the OSU defense, sealing the win.
For TCU, it’s not the end of the road. They can still make a run to get into the College Football Playoff, if they can win out their schedule the rest of the way and win the Big 12 Championship game, something TCU head coach Gary Patterson is well in tune with.
“To me, we just got beaten by the number 3 or 4 ranked team in the nation. And so if you could win out, then I think you’d be one of those teams that should give TCU just as much credit for playing a ballgame like this as anybody else you should,” said Patterson after the game.
Meanwhile, Ohio State picks up the signature win they needed to quiet the whispers and doubters, wherever they may be. Additionally, this marks the end of the Urban Meyer suspension as he gets to rejoin the team and take over the 3-0 Buckeyes, something coach Day is looking forward to.
“But we’re just so excited to get Coach back next week. And, obviously, the culture that he’s built here is amazing and the foundation that he’s built here. And that’s what got us through these first three games and through preseason. The players that have been recruited here and coaches that are here have kept this thing going.”