It's a good day when your quarterback throws for 344 yards and two touchdowns, with no turnovers (plus another score on the ground), and when you get two defensive scores to go along with it.
To be frank, Ohio State made some big plays when they needed to, and when you score two defensive touchdowns and block a punt, you're generally going to come out on top, and that's what the Buckeyes did.
It wasn't a blowout, but it was an Ohio State win, the Buckeyes are 3-0, and we'll take it.
The Short Story
This game was wild from the start. The Buckeyes quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a Nick Bosa strip-sack (we will get to that later), but TCU quickly responded and took a 14-13 lead into the half. In the second half, Ohio State forced another pick-six, blocked a punt, and had two passing touchdowns to ultimately seal the 40-28 victory.
Ohio State opened up the air attack on Saturday yet again, with Dwayne Haskins throwing for 344 yards (24-38, 63%, 156.6 RTG).
Haskins found K.J. Hill for a score late in the game, but the main highlights were this bomb to Austin Mack and this Parris Campbell screen pass taken to the house. I swear, it looks like he's outrunning the TCU defense while just jogging. That man is fast.
The Buckeyes did a great job of getting the ball to their most explosive athletes in space. The rushing attack was also quite potent: J.K. Dobbins was excellent in this one, rushing 18 times for 121 yards and seemed to be untackleable (is that a word?) all night. Dwayne Haskins looked Barrett-esque on a touchdown run as well, and Mike Weber had a couple of key rushes.
Nick Bosa is so good. Seriously, enjoy watching him while you can. The guy is unbelievable. For the second straight game, Bosa recorded a bone crushing sack, and this time it went for six points as Davon Hamilton fell on the ball in the end zone.
Unfortunately, Bosa had to leave the game in the third quarter due to what was called a "lower abdomen strain." Coach Ryan Day did not have any updates on Bosa's injury after the game. I'm sure that I am not alone in hoping it's not too serious for the superstar defensive end.
Who Earned a Buckeye Leaf?
Offense: K.J. Hill
Hill is the epitome of stability. We saw it all of last year, and we saw it again tonight. Every time there is a pivotal spot, it seems like Hill magically appears to make a few big plays, and he did that once again today as he recorded six catches for 95 yards and this touchdown.
Honorable mentions: Dwayne Haskins, J.K. Dobbins
Defense: Dre'Mont Jones
Jones was flying around all day. With Bosa out, Jones made one of the biggest plays of the game.
Jones was in the backfield all day, recording six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, and of course, that pick-six.
Honorable mentions: Jordan Fuller, Nick Bosa, Malik Harrison
Austin Mack suddenly forgot how to catch the football.
Not everything can be sunshine and roses. It was an uncharacteristically rough game for Mack, who had four drops and committed a crucial holding penalty. He had a long catch to set up Ohio State in great position to score a touchdown, but dropped a would-be-score on third down that drive to force the Buckeyes into a field goal.
Mack would go on to drop three more balls. If there's any consolation, it's that he seemed to rebound a bit later in the game. He finished with a not-so-bad 84 yards on four catches.
Ryan Day, ever the wordsmith, had this to say about Mack:
Day on WR Austin Mack:— Derrick Webb (@dw1509) September 16, 2018
Austin is usually a reliable guy. The big thing we talked about was that this was going to be a fight. We didnt flinch. We kept putting Austin back in there. We believe in our guys. When things dont go well, we have to stick together.
Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment
Even though it was a night game for the Buckeyes, Jim and Ellen Tressel still awoke at 6:30 a.m. in order to restock the bird feeder, mow the lawn, and have a hearty dinner before settling in to watch Ohio State take on TCU.
Ellen lamented to Jim, saying that this late contest would throw off Jim's sleep cycle, but Jim just shook it off. Ellen made some tea and joined him on the couch.
It started off pretty well. Ohio State was up 3-0, and Drue Chrisman's first punt was an absolute beauty: a 46-yard bomb that that pinned TCU at their own three-yard line. Of course, Nick Bosa forced a fumble that Ohio State recovered in the end zone.
"That was a beautiful sequence," Jim said, with tears in his eyes. Ellen quickly handed him a tissue and the bowl of pretzels.
However, Jim would soon be crying for a different reason: Chrisman had two straight shanks, including a 34-yarder that gave TCU great field position with which to work.
Jim remarked in Wilkesian fashion, "What kind of cockadoodie nonsense is this?" and then stormed off to clear his head, returning after a few minutes.
I'm sure Jim is eagerly awaiting the return of Urban Meyer next week against Tulane, but hopefully the Buckeyes won't be doing much punting.
Malik Harrison's Second-Half Performance
Harrison seemed to be everywhere in the second half. He finished with six tackles, but his steady play was much needed for a maligned linebacking unit. Of course, he also had this huge interception which put the game away for good.
Dobbins was a bowling ball all night, bouncing off would-be tacklers and breaking off some really impressive runs. He finished with 121 yards on 18 carries, and dominated in his home state.
It Was Over When
The game really never felt over until Harrison sealed it with a later interception. Morale was certainly low heading into halftime, and then even lower after TCU's score to open the third quarter, but the Buckeyes battled back and ultimately got the victory.
Biggest Question Going Forward
Ohio State's offense seemed to move faster with Ryan Day at the helm. Urban Meyer will be back on the sidelines, and he has been known to take things slow and conservative at times, which has backfired in the past.
It will be interesting to see whether Meyer continues that approach, or simply gives full reign of the offense to Day and keeps his hands off.