The guess here is that Ohio State will find the weather in North Texas to be just a tad warmer in September than what the Buckeyes experienced the past few days while prepping for another New Year’s Six bowl.
This isn’t that famous Super Bowl weather DFW is known for far and wide, but the barometer seems to be falling closer and closer.
Of course, with the proliferation of indoor facilities at area high schools and the climate control of AT&T Stadium, the most the Buckeyes shivered over the past week was stepping onto and off of their team buses.
And they probably won’t melt Sept. 15 when they return to the heavily air-conditioned JerryWorld for their one-off against TCU.
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Here’s betting Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson lobbies for the roof to be open. He’s going to want every advantage he can get as TCU tries to topple The Ohio State, which had little trouble Friday with USC in a less-than-thrilling 82nd annual Cotton Bowl.
J.T. Barrett scored two touchdowns in his 50th and final college start — that’s good news for TCU — and the oft-maligned Buckeyes defense forced three first-half turnovers and kept projected NFL first-rounder Sam Darnold relatively in check en route to a 24-7 victory over the No. 8 Trojans.
At times, No. 5 Ohio State looked like it should have been in the College Football Playoff rather than the first team out. At other times, though, the Buckeyes seemed fairly ordinary.
No one can take anything away from the defense’s ability to take the ball away, but USC outgained Ohio State in the first half. The Buckeyes’ offense didn’t exactly wow as it did the last time Ohio State was here, behind Ezekiel Elliott in the 2015 CFP title game.
In the end, despite the margin, the Buckeyes didn’t leave anyone in Fort Worth curled up and trembling in the fetal position.
They likely wouldn’t have had they won 100-7.
Gone are the days when Patterson could get away with saying big-time non-conference games were a measuring stick. He ran with that line when TCU, bouncing around from conference to conference, would step into a game against a team from a Power 5 conference.
TCU is a Power 5 team now, one of the top 10 or 15 over the past four seasons. Games against the Frogs are a measuring stick for 90 percent of FBS teams.
That said, though, the Buckeyes are arguably the best team over the past four seasons.
What might things look like Sept. 15? If the Cotton Bowl is any indication, there will be a lot of scarlet and gray in the stands. Both teams should be 2-0 entering their $5 million payday.
On the field, the good news for the Frogs is that whichever quarterback replaces Kenny Hill, presumably Shawn Robinson, will have two games to find some rhythm for the Buckeyes. The bad news is that whichever quarterback replaces Barrett, presumably Dwayne Haskins, will have two games to find some rhythm for the Frogs.
The same goes for perhaps as many as a dozen new starters Ohio State will have to insert because of players running out of eligibility or declaring early for the NFL Draft. The Buckeyes’ talented defensive line, including draft-eligible sophomore Dre’mont Jones, might bid Columbus farewell.
On Thursday, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer talked about the difficult time a young defense had early this season, including in the home loss to Oklahoma. So, the Frogs might have that going for them, which would be nice.
Except ... graduation is hitting the Frogs just as hard. If junior Ben Banogu enters the NFL Draft, Patterson will have to find two defensive ends who can get to the quarterback.
Fortunately, that has been a Patterson strength throughout the years, but he has also had to live with growing pains that come with breaking new starting defensive backs into his 4-2-5 defense. The Frogs will have two of those next season.
Ohio State depth comes in waves at opponents. TCU has more quality depth than ever, but the Buckeyes will test it.
The Frogs will have plenty of quality skill players returning on offense, including some receivers who could give any new Ohio State defensive backs fits. (How about that Jalen Reagor?)
The more skill Patterson and offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie can put around their new quarterback, the better, assuming the three new offensive linemen they plug in can open holes and keep the new QB upright.
Ohio State came at Darnold frequently, as Meyer hinted they would, though he wasn’t under pressure on the pick-six he threw in the first half. He fumbled while being sacked later in the quarter, and Barrett turned it into a TD on a 28-yard run and a 24-0 lead.
The game pretty much stalled out after USC turned a muffed punt into a TD late in the first half. Darnold and Barrett each had his moments, but the defenses, including Ohio State forcing another Darnold fumble, dictated play.
Ohio State did all it needed to do to win the game in the first half, but the Buckeyes didn’t leave anyone in Fort Worth curled up and trembling in the fetal position ahead of their trip here Sept. 15 to face the Frogs.
OSU—Barrett 1 run (Nuernberger kick), 12:25
OSU—FG Nuernberger 26, 14:55
OSU—Webb 23 interception return (Nuernberger kick), 14:42
OSU—Barrett 28 run (Nuernberger kick), 5:27
USC—R.Jones 1 run (McGrath kick), 1:59
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Southern Cal, R.Jones 19-64, Ware 3-9, Malepeai 1-2, Carr 2-0, Darnold 11-(minus 18). Ohio St., Barrett 16-66, Campbell 3-42, Dobbins 13-39, Weber 5-18, (Team) 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Southern Cal, Darnold 26-45-1-356. Ohio St., Barrett 11-17-0-114.
RECEIVING—Southern Cal, Burnett 12-139, Vaughns 6-119, Pittman 3-69, D.Imatorbhebhe 2-25, Malepeai 1-3, Petite 1-2, Carr 1-(minus 1). Ohio St., Baugh 4-40, Mack 3-56, Weber 1-16, K.Hill 1-3, McLaurin 1-2, Campbell 1-(minus 3).
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Southern Cal, McGrath 28.