TCU has been in this position before. Being an underdog is nothing new.
So it’s no surprise the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes opened as 13.5-point favorites over the Frogs. Ohio State boasts one of the top defensive lines in the country, and have a standout quarterback who has been tremendously accurate early on.
But TCU has talent on its side of the ball and won’t be going down without a fight. Here are three keys for a Frogs’ victory.
1. Shawn’s night. If TCU is going to pull off the upset, the headlines on Sunday should read something along the lines of “The Night Shawn Robinson Became a College Football Star.” Robinson is going to have to have his best performance if the Frogs are going to win.
Ohio State’s defensive line has pass rush talent on the edge and inside, and Robinson will have to use his athleticism to extend plays and gain yards in the open field. He also has to connect on the deep balls, something he hasn’t done to date.
TCU has several home-run threats if they get the ball in their hands, and Robinson is the man responsible for that.
ESPN “College GameDay” analyst David Pollack might have said it best on Friday -- “[Robinson] is going to have to play great. He can’t make mistakes. You make mistakes and this one is going to be over quick.”
2. W’s on third down, TOP. The Frogs have to win the third-down battles on offense and defense. Especially on defense.
Ohio State has converted 72.4 percent of third downs through its first two games. TCU, meanwhile, has held opponents to a 23 percent conversion rate.
It goes without saying, but TCU’s defense has to force punts and/or field goals when Ohio State finds itself on third down. They can’t let the Buckeyes extend drives and win the time of possession battle. In fact, the Frogs have been dominant when they win time of possession in recent years.
TCU is 19-1 when it wins the time of possession battle over the last four years.
3. X-factors. TCU needs big games from its stars. Defensive end Ben Banogu has gotten off to a slow start, but has an opportunity to shine on the national stage. Running back Darius Anderson has dealt with an injury since fall camp, but is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball and has to deliver on his opportunities. And KaVontae Turpin showed what a difference-making player he is against SMU.
These are the games where players make names for themselves, and TCU has plenty of talent to do just that.
Of course, TCU can’t beat itself by trying to do too much. The Frogs can’t afford to lose things like the turnover battle or field position battle, and expect to win.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, TCU 16. TCU stays within striking distance most of the night, but Ohio State’s talent level prevails in the fourth quarter.