The Frogs had a lead in the second half. They were making plays on offense and defense. Darius Anderson set a TCU rushing record. The defense held Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins in check. Ohio State lost its best player, Nick Bosa, to an injury.
In the end, though, self-inflicted mistakes are what doomed the Frogs. TCU made too many in a game where it had to be almost perfect in every facet to upset the No. 4 team in the country.
Ohio State 40, TCU 28 on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
Mistakes are what held TCU from getting off to a fast start. The Frogs kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds; the defense then gave up a long pass play as the Buckeyes opened with a field goal drive; and the first offensive possession saw a holding penalty wipe out a TD run and a missed field goal.
“You can’t make mistakes and win ballgames,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I told them before the ballgame that usually in big games, you lose them more than you win them.”
Bosa made his presence felt early on with a strip-sack of TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson near the goal-line that Ohio State recovered for a touchdown.
Despite an early 10-0 deficit, the Frogs seemed unfazed by their mistakes. They answered the call much of the night.
Robinson handled adversity more like a senior than a sophomore. On the drive following the strip-sack, he led an 84-yard TD drive to pull the Frogs to within 10-7.
TCU gained the lead in the second quarter on a 93-yard TD run by Anderson. It marked the longest run in TCU history, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s record of 89 yards, and the longest play from scrimmage given up in Ohio State history.
TCU went to the locker rooms leading 14-13, and extended it to 21-13 in the third quarter on another TD run by Anderson.
But Ohio State scored 20 unanswered in a 4:01 stretch of the third quarter. And TCU did itself no favors on those scores.
“Hats off to Ohio State,” defensive end Ben Banogu said. “They came in and played well in the second half. We know going ahead to next week we can’t let teams come back. We have to finish.”
The Frogs defense knew it had to limit the big plays given up early on this season, but the Buckeyes scored on a 63-yard pass play to Parris Campbell in the third quarter.
Then Robinson made his biggest mistake of the night, trying to force a shovel pass on a play that Ohio State’s defensive line had busted. Robinson tossed it right to Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who returned it for a 28-yard score.
TCU tried a trick play on the kickoff return with KaVontae Turpin throwing it across the field to Jalen Reagor, who had laid down in the end zone. Reagor returned it for a score, but Turpin threw it forward for an illegal pass.
So TCU started from its own 4 – the Frogs started eight of 15 drives from inside their 20-yard line – and the offense stalled out. Matters got worse when punter Adam Nunez fumbled the snap and ended up punting it 2 yards.
Ohio State took over on the TCU 25, and scored two plays later on a 24-yard pass from Haskins to K.J. Hill who beat TCU free safety Niko Small.
“You can’t beat yourself,” Patterson said. “Just plain and simple -- you can’t beat yourself.”
As stated, though, Robinson and TCU showed resiliency all night.
Robinson connected with TreVontae Hights for a 51-yard touchdown to pull TCU within 33-28, but that was as close as they’d get.
Ohio State answered with a 75-yard scoring drive to essentially put the game out of reach, and then sealed it when Robinson threw another interception late in the game.
“The two turnovers are mistakes that I can’t make,” Robinson said. “That hurt us. The defensive end made a great read on the shovel pass. The second interception was just a horrible read.”
The Frogs travel to Austin next Saturday to take on the Texas Longhorns, which beat USC 37-14. It’ll be another big game, one that TCU hopes brings a different outcome.
The Frogs had their chances to pull off an upset Saturday, but it just had to be closer to perfect.
“We came in here to win, not play well,” Patterson said.