If this game were played next year, it might be a different story.
TCU craves opportunities to prove its quality on big stages, and much of the country will probably find them a particularly appealing underdog against Ohio State.
However, they may not have the savvy veterans on offense to execute a strategy based on skillful passing, and running against Ohio State’s starting line will likely be a challenge for anyone.
If they can’t keep it close enough for a few big plays to make the difference, they can’t be the team to knock off Ohio State this year. But of course, Patterson has been waiting a long time to solve this riddle.
Expect the Ohio State WR corps and TCU’s inexperience at QB to make the difference as Ohio State thwarts TCU’s big upset and covers the 13-point spread. (And S&P+ has the Buckeyes as more like a 19-point favorite.)
This game was not Patterson’s call.
Not long after the Frogs beat Wisconsin and finished No. 2 in the final Top 25 for the 2010 season, some digital billboards in the Columbus area mysteriously displayed messages congratulating TCU for its BCS Rose Bowl victory and were signed, “Little Sisters of the Poor.”
“We’ve chuckled about it many times,” former TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, now at Texas, said this week while also recalling Gee responded to him about those “funny, nice billboards” after the bowtie-wearing president joined WVU in March 2014.
In early 2011, Del Conte and Ohio State AD Gene Smith found themselves together at the same meeting. They got to talking and, as TCU coach Gary Patterson puts it, “all of a sudden, you had a ballgame.”
“We were talking about the (Rose Bowl) game and the president and just all of the things that happened around the billboards, and somehow … a conversation broke out about playing a home and home,” Del Conte said. “We said, ‘Yeah, we’d love to do that.’”
Bethley has been unbelievable through two games, but will face his biggest test Saturday. I think he finds a way to cause some problems.
TCU’s defense is playing well through its first two games against Southern and SMU. The Frogs haven’t allowed a second-half point and are holding teams to just 213.5 total yards a game.
So it’s no surprise when Bethley described the D-line as “a well-oiled machine” after the SMU victory.
“There’s still things we can get better at and me personally as a player to get better at,” Bethley said, “But as a whole I feel like [we’re a well-oiled machine].”
Bethley acknowledged he had to “step up my game” when TCU lost nose tackle Ross Blacklock (Achilles) for the season during fall camp.
You can tell GP is pretty amped up for this one.
“If you don’t like coaching in games like this ...” Patterson said, shifting verbal gears. “Winning is winning, but you’ve got to test your element of what you are, you got to test your kids’ elements, your staff’s elements. If you want to climb to the top, you have to test yourself. You have to play in these types of games.”
TCU realizes the task at hand.
”Ohio State is a real good football team,” Patterson said, suggesting that it might be one of the best of the Urban Myer era outside of the 2014 national champion.
This will be a fun one to watch.
“Him and Tate are both guys that can run the ball, but Shawn kind of has a more sturdy frame,” Okudah said. “So when you go against Shawn, he has the option to put his shoulder down and try to run you over, as opposed to trying to shake you and go out of bounds.”
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds, Robinson has similar measurables to former Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who was also a big running threat to the Buckeyes, running for 3,263 yards in his Ohio State career. Okudah says Robinson’s elusiveness, though, will also present a different challenge than going up against Barrett in practice.
“J.T. wasn’t as elusive as Shawn was in the open field,” Okudah said. “He had a running element, but it wasn’t just that elusive. But it still was a threat. So I mean, J.T. kind of gives you that feel, but I wouldn’t compare it.”