13.5 point underdogs?
It’s not the first time TCU has been doubted against a name-brand program under Gary Patterson - and it sure won’t be the last.
But this is, quite possibly, the toughest test the Frogs have faced since GP strolled into Funky Town, and knocking off the #4 Buckeyes won’t be an easy feat. On paper, Ohio State rules - full of four and five stars, backed up by four and five stars - who are also backed up by four and five stars - the Buckeyes are as deep with talent as any team TCU will face all year. But Gary Patterson will have his team prepared, and with him on the sidelines, the Frogs always have a shot.
Let’s see how they might attack Ohio State and come out with the win.
Shawn Robinson has to be accurate
The reviews have been somewhat mixed through three Shawn Robinson starts. Though two of the games have been played in terrible weather (40 mph winds in Lubbock and a torrential downpour in Dallas), Robinson has completed just 45 of 79 attempts (a 57% completion rate) for an average of 64 yards per game - though, again, he played just a half against Southern and wasn’t able/asked to throw the ball much against Texas Tech or SMU.
If the Horned Frogs are going to win Saturday night, though, we will need to see the very best of the former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year. I fully unleashed Shawn Robinson that is a threat to throw it deep or take off and run for a first down. They’re going to need to open up the playbook, and the quarterback is going to need to make plays.
Shawn Robinson has the talent and has played at a high level in big games - in Jerry World, in fact - but he will face his biggest test Saturday night.
Defensive line has to wreak havoc
For the Frogs to have a shot Saturday, they are going to need to make some things happen. That can start in the Ohio State backfield, where TCU defenders will need to make the acquaintance of Dwayne Haskins.
We have been waiting for the Ben Banogu game - the senior defensive end was better against SMU, but you know he’s been waiting for week three to really turn it on. We will also see LJ Collier for the first time in 2018, and he could be a huge difference maker for the Horned Frogs. Corey Bethley, Ty Summers, Brandon Bowen, et al, will need to make tackles, make plays, and cause problems if they want to have a shot of slowing down an Ohio State offense that’s averaging over 60 points per game to start the season.
A couple of sacks, a few stuffs behind the line to throw the Buckeyes off schedule, maybe a forced fumble... it won’t be enough to just contain, the defensive line has to shake things up. They’re certainly capable of doing just that.
Stop the long ball
It’s long been the achilles heel of the Horned Frogs, the long pass that eats up chunks of yards and leads to momentum changing scores. After giving up two such passes against Southern, the Frogs did not allow a pass longer than 17 yards on the evening, albeit in sub-optimal conditions. Ohio State has a far superior QB, much better and faster wide receivers, and a far more dominant offense, and presents a very different challenge for Jeff Gladney, Julius Lewis, Noah Daniels, and company. The Buckeyes are averaging over 10 yards per pass, nearly 13 per reception, and have 11 players averaging over 9.0 yards per catch - they can REALLY sling it.
KJ Hill and Parris Campbell have been the early go-to guys, combining for 20 catches through two games. With a running game that has wracked up 600 yards in two games (oh my god) to keep defenses honest, the corners and safeties are going to have a massive challenge ahead of them. Guys like Innis Gaines and Niko Small are going to need to stay true to their lanes in the secondary while the corners focus on keeping everything in front of them. Haskins can drop it in there, TCU will need to hope he doesn’t get many chances.
Where has Jet been?
We haven’t seen much of Darius Anderson through the first two games; though he is listed as a starter, Sewo Olonilua has been the first guy behind Shawn Robinson in both of the Frogs’ first two matchups, and while Jet leads the team in carries (17), that’s not a lot of opportunities for one of the Big 12’s most dangerous runners.
Two factors have contributed to this: one, Anderson was a bit banged up in camp, didn’t practice much, and didn’t participate in any scrimmages - he simply wasn’t ready to play football. Two, why use up one of your most important players before the first big game of your season?
Coming off of a knee injury late in the 2017 campaign, Anderson should be rounding into form by Saturday. In his limited chances this year, he’s averaging over six yards a carry, but has yet to get into the end one - something that all of the TCU running backs can say. For the Frogs to get the pass rush off of Shawn Robinson, Jet, Sewo, Kenedy, and Emari - not to mention Robinson - have to stay on schedule, pick up good yardage, and break off a big run or two.
Get some lucky breaks
On paper, Ohio State is much better than TCU.
Parade All-Americans backing up Parade All-Americans, according to GP.
Four stars backing up five stars backing up five stars backing up future All-Pros.
We know it.
But, many a team and many an opposing fan, has made the mistake of counting out Gary Patterson and TCU - and lived to regret it.
Ohio State very well could be the next.
For the Frogs to pull off the upset (and as nearly 14 point dogs, it would indeed be an upset), TCU will need a break or two to go their way. Maybe a strip sack for a scoop and score? A tipped pass that leads to an interception deep in Ohio State territory? Or a muffed punt that turns into a score? And, of course, let’s not forget #TurpinTime:
I’m going to put on a show for the people!— KaVontae Turpin (@KaVontaeTurpin) September 14, 2018
TCU can beat Ohio State straight up, but it will be a lot easier if they get a couple balls to bounce their way.
Can’t wait to see if they do.