Ohio State football | Tim May’s insider from the TCU game

Tim May
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) celebrates the Buckeyes' 40-28 win over the TCU Horned Frogs at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. [Adam Cairns]

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The Buckeyes kept swinging, Haskins kept flinging, and they made Ryan Day a 3-0 head coach. Now the Urban Meyer drive resumes on Tulane highway.

In the polls

The Buckeyes remained No. 4 in the coaches poll behind Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, all of whom won handily, and Ohio State picked up a first-place vote. The Buckeyes stayed No. 4 in the Associated Press media poll, too, while Georgia moved around Clemson to second behind No. 1 Alabama.

Who’s hot?

Dwayne Haskins Jr. and the Ohio State passing game. That’s the thing about big games: When a team can throw it, it always has a chance, even when trailing by eight in the third quarter. Haskins and his teammates proved that with his best starting performance (because it was against a credible opponent with a fast, aggressive defense). Haskins is No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (192.4 rating), based primarily on completion percentage (66.7), touchdown passes (11) and interceptions (1). Coming off a career-high 344 yards, he also is 18th nationally in passing yards (296.7 avg.).

Still a scoring machine

Although the Buckeyes had their first outing short of 52 points, the 40 still kept them No. 2 nationally in scoring (56.3 points per game). And two of those touchdowns came from the defense, with Davon Hamilton pouncing on a fumble in the end zone caused by Nick Bosa, and Dre’Mont Jones rising from defensive tackle to intercept a shovel pass and return it 28 yards in the third quarter.

More number crunching

Even though the 562 yards total offense represented a, uh, down performance, the Buckeyes are still No. 3 nationally in total offense (608.7 yards per game). They also are No. 6 in team passing efficiency (194.6 rating), No. 9 in passing yards (348.0) and No. 17 in rushing yards (260.7).

What’s not hot?

The defense ran its TD total to three or the season, but it had some making up to do against TCU. The Horned Frogs caught the Buckeyes in what turned out to be an unsound defensive play in the second quarter when, selling out to stop an expected pass play, they left a gap open over left tackle. TCU’s Darius Anderson burst through and raced 93 yards for a touchdown. The play was doubly historic: the longest run for scrimmage ever for TCU, and the longest running play the Buckeyes ever yielded.

Catch that?

Dwayne Haskins Jr. kept on a read option for the first time this season, and of course it caught the TCU defenders flat-footed when he scored the fourth-quarter touchdown. He said it was the first time all game an actual option was called, though the Buckeyes ran that look many times with J.K. Dobbins (121 yards) or Mike Weber getting an intended handoff. Bottom line, Haskins isn’t just a pocket-passer anymore, future opponents are now saying to themselves.

Dinged up

Ohio State fans are holding their breaths to learn the seriousness of the injury to defensive end Nick Bosa. It was described by insiders as a strain in the lower abdominal and left hip region. MRI tests on Sunday or Monday are expected to find answers, but there was no word from Ohio State as of Sunday night.

Up next

Tulane, which was bushwhacked by Alabama-Birmingham last week 31-24. The Green Wave is 1-2, with a win over Nicholls State. Coach Willie Fritz is in his third year (10-17), and though he and his staff signed a stout recruiting class in 2018, the Green Wave still seems to be a season or two off shore.

This week’s challenge

Meyer returns fully from his suspension, now cleared to coach during the week and during games. How much of a difference that makes remains to be seen, and there is a news conference for him to get through Monday. But he retakes the helm of a team that Day steered expertly in his first swing as a head coach. “Keep on keeping on” should be Meyer’s decree.


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