OSU can't be distracted by 'big' game

Tim May
Rutgers Scarlet Knights head coach Chris Ash shakes hands with Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day following the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Sept. 8, 2018. Ohio State won 52-3.

Ryan Day's three-game stint as Ohio State’s acting head coach will end this week, but he knows enough about the position to understand that labeling a game “big” over any other is a mistake.

That goes for fourth-ranked Ohio State's game against No. 15 Texas Christian on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

The outcome is what matters, Day said. As he has learned in his six weeks filling in for suspended Urban Meyer, the pressure is there every week, no matter what the fans or the media think of the opposition.

“If you don't think it's a big game, try losing it, you know?” Day said Monday. “So they are all big. … Every game you've got to be ready, you've got to be prepared and do a great job.

“That's just one of the things when you come to Ohio State and you play at the highest level of college football. You have to bring your 'A' game every week. That's not any different this week.”

But the odds have been narrowed. The Buckeyes made mistakes as they ransacked Oregon State 77-31 and Rutgers 52-3 the past two weeks, but they were masked for the most part.

That’s a point Meyer reinforced with his coaches and players when he rejoined them Sunday, having the right under his suspension to help coach through the week before the Rutgers game and this week before returning full time next week.

“We've got to make corrections and got to be critical of ourselves moving forward,” Day said was Meyer’s admonition.

TCU is better than Oregon State and Rutgers on both sides of the ball. In terms of that challenge and the ramifications, it will be a bigger game, but the basics will be the same.

“When you play in big games, obviously you have to take care of the football,” Day said. “You have to run the football. You have to play good defense, and you have to really follow the plan to win even more, because every play is so much more important.”

There won’t be big changes for the Buckeyes, who so far this season have staged a balanced run-pass offense led by first-year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and a pressing defense anchored by defensive end Nick Bosa.

“We are going to be who we are and do what we do,” Day said. “I think when you start to stray and focus on other things, like it being a big game, that's when you get distracted. … If we start to overthink it or anything else, then we are not putting our best foot forward.”

It’s not a true road game, since it will be in the Dallas Cowboys' stadium. Each program is getting $5 milllion for agreeing to play at the neutral site.

And it’s no foreign destination for the Buckeyes. They beat Oregon there in the championship game of the first College Football Playoff in January 2015. They also beat Southern California there in the Cotton Bowl nine months ago.

“Certainly there will be a familiarity with the stadium, and having played there, the locker rooms, all that stuff,” OSU defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “So I guess any time that you're more familiar with something, it's a little bit easier.

“But it's really a home game for them. It's 30 minutes down the road (from the TCU campus in Fort Worth), so I wouldn't get too excited about it.”


Ohio State vs. TCU

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Arlington, Texas

TV: ABC (Channel 6)

Radio: WBNS-FM/AM (97.1, 1460)

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