ARLINGTON, Texas — In a game where it surrendered more than 500 total yards of offense, allowed 6.7 yards per snap and gave up plays of 93, 42 and 51 yards, Ohio State's defense still saved the day with two big-time plays in a 40-28 win over TCU.
Coming into the ballgame, TCU's speed was discussed immensely. For the majority of the night, the Horned Frogs lived up to their reputation by running an uptempo, quick-strike offense.
"Thankfully, our offense has a tempo, so we were used to it. It took some time to adjust because they had a running quarterback," Jones said. "They're a very fast team. Probably the fastest team I ever played since I've been in college. It was hard to adjust slightly. But, after that first drive, you kind of realize they're going to hold the ball, and, eventually, we're going to go after them."
Trailing 3-0 midway through the first quarter, Nick Bosa most certainly "got after them."
With the Horned Frogs faced a second-down play from their own nine-yard line, quarterback Shawn Robinson dropped back to pass, he met the same fate that many signal callers have suffered in the past: he came face-to-face with the Ohio State All-American defensive end.
Best player in the country, Nick Bosa, with the strip sack pic.twitter.com/4loUJ6H8sS
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 16, 2018
Bosa beat Horned Frogs left tackle Anthony McKinney and had a free shot at Robinson's blindside. The collision forced Robinson to fumble and, as the ball rolled near the back of the end zone, Davon Hamilton was there to pounce.
Bosa's strip sack and Hamilton's score gave the Buckeyes a 10-0 lead with 7:13 left in the first. But as big as the turnover was, it didn't compare to the defense's second forced turnover of the night.
With 5:54 left in the third quarter and Ohio State trailing 21-19, defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones picked off a shuffle pass in TCU's backfield. Jones shed two would-be tacklers, including Robinson, and ran it back 28 yards to the house.
It was that play that swung momentum and gave the Buckeyes a lead they'd never relinquish.
"With a quarterback like that, I know he likes to run," Jones said. "And on that play in particular, he was a little hesitant and running on the outside. So I sat back to see what happened, and I read it perfectly. The ball came directly towards me."
DreMont Jones: best @PFF_College pass-rushing grade in the nation among interior D-Linemen.
Best 290-pound running back? pic.twitter.com/Ns3xaxIM0E
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 16, 2018
Earlier in the game, Jones had another pass thrown right at him. It hit his hands and dropped to the ground. When asked about making up for the drop, he had fun with his answer.
"Chill, chill. Don't call it out," he said with a smile. "I mean, I was happy to make a play. Doesn't matter that I dropped it. It's still PBU. So that's cool."
Looking at the stat sheet, there are many areas where Ohio State's defense could most certainly improve. But causing three turnovers is certainly something they'll take to the bank.
While TCU coach Gary Patterson saw his team move the ball down the field, he also acknowledged the fact that his group shot themselves in the foot.
"You know, you just can't beat yourself," Patterson said. "Just plain and simple, you can't beat yourself."
The Horned Frogs tallied 511 yards of total offense — 308 through the air and 203 on the ground — and revealed holes in the Buckeyes' defense early and often.
The 511 yards is the most an opponent has recorded against Ohio State since Michigan State posted 536 in 2014 — the Buckeyes won that game 49-37.
Linebacker Malik Harrison, who came up with the game-sealing interception on TCU's final drive, said his unit will focus on both the good and the bad.
"We focus on a little bit of both, though we will look at what went wrong so we know what we need to do to get it right," he said. "It was a little different because the last two teams that we played didn't have a lot of speed. We just had to come together and adjust to it."
There's something to be said about the difference in the defense's play when comparing the first and second halves.
In the first two quarters, TCU posted 289 yards of offense, picked up 12 first downs and converted on 4-of-7 third down attempts. In quarters three and four, the Horned Frogs managed to gain 222 yards, moved the chains 10 times and converted on just 3-of-8 third down tries.
Why is that noteworthy? Other than slight improvement, it all happened without Bosa on the field. According to ESPN, Bosa went down with an apparent lower abdominal strain early in the third quarter.
He was later spotted in street clothes on the Buckeyes' sideline. With Bosa restricted to a spectator role, his teammates picked him up.
"You know, you just can't beat yourself. Just plain and simple, you can't beat yourself."– TCU coach Gary Patterson
"I feel like us rotating was a big key factor in this game up front because it allowed us to, at times, set the tempo for ourselves," defensive tackle Robert Landers said. "(TCU) is good at tempo. We prepped for it all week in practice. But we were not prepared for the amount of speed they had on the tempo. But after a while, we started settling down when we started rotating and git a hang of the tempo. I feel like the game started to fall more into our hands."
With things to improve upon and things to hang their hats on, the Buckeyes now shift their focus to Tulane, who they'll take on next Saturday in Columbus.
That contest not only gives Ohio State a chance to go 4-0 but it also marks the first time this season the team will welcome head coach Urban Meyer onto its sideline after he served a three-game suspension.
"We're just so excited to get (Meyer) back next week," acting head coach Ryan Day said in what's possibly his final postgame press conference this season. "The culture that he's built here is amazing and the foundation that he's built here. That's what got us through these first three games and through preseason."