ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew has arrived in Fort Worth, and had nothing but good things to say about returning to TCU’s campus for a second straight season.
Host Rece Davis described last year’s show as a “tremendous scene” and expects a similar event this time around. Analysts Desmond Howard and David Pollack also spoke highly of the hospitality and energy the school displayed.
But, like everyone else in the college football world, all three are most excited for Saturday night’s game at AT&T Stadium. No. 15 TCU is looking to upset No. 4 Ohio State, a feat that would thrust the Frogs into the playoff conversation.
“This is a big week for TCU,” Pollack said. “This is the week, you win this game like Oklahoma a year ago, it put Oklahoma on the scene and it led to a Heisman Trophy with Baker Mayfield.
“It led to a Rose Bowl run for them and I think this could be the same for TCU. It’s a huge challenge, a huge test. It’ll be fun to watch.”
For Pollack, the biggest challenge for TCU is Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins is coming off a week in which he completed 20-of-23 passes for 233 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Pollack doesn’t know if there’s a better quarterback in the country.
“This Dwayne Haskins kid is unbelievable. I think he’s freaky good,” Pollack said. “He’s as good as I’ve seen this year in college football – smooth feet, he’s got an elite arm and he cranks it like a shortstop. He literally just cranks it and that thing whips wherever he wants.
“I’ve watched every single one of his throws the last two weeks and I didn’t see a bad throw. He is the real deal. He presents a tremendous challenge.”
Pollack didn’t have similar praise for TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson. Robinson is set to make just his fourth start and has shown poise in handling adverse situations.
He threw an interception against SMU last week, and responded the next drive by rushing for a score. A couple missed throws in the opener didn’t get him off track as he still led TD drives in those series.
But Robinson hasn’t been as consistent as desired on deep throws, and coach Gary Patterson has hinted throughout the week that backup Michael Collins could see action Saturday.
“There’s a reason Gary Patterson is talking about playing two and he’s mentioned that this week,” Pollack said. “Obviously [Robinson] is one of the more highly recruited kids y’all have had at that spot and I vividly remember coming last year and watching practice and going, ‘OK. That guy is better than Kenny Hill from a talent standpoint.’ He can run. He can zip the crud out of it.
“Can he make the right decisions? You guys have got playmakers. It’s not like you’re lacking little guys that can fly. You’ve got plenty of that stuff, so it’ll be a big test for him. I’m curious to see what he’ll bring to the table. I think he’s got the ability to do it, but the consistency has to be there.”
Here’s what else the “College GameDay” crew had to say –
Pollack on KaVontae Turpin: “You could play touch football in an elevator and lose to him. He’s that kind of quick, that kind of fast.”
Howard on Turpin: “KaVontae is a very explosive, dynamic player. He’s one of those guys who he makes you hold your breath every time he touches the ball because you know he has the type of ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball. He’s a smaller guy, so I root for the smaller guys in the sport, so when I see a guy like KaVontae out there doing what he does, it makes me smile. There’s still hope for us little guys.”
Howard on Robinson: “We’ll learn more about Shawn tomorrow night. That’ll be his biggest challenge. It’s hard to judge talent when the opponents aren’t formidable so to speak. Tomorrow night will tell me a lot about Shawn Robinson.”
Pollack on TCU using two left tackles (Austin Myers and Anthony McKinney): “Nothing is going to help with [Nick] Bosa. He’s going to get his regardless. I don’t understand why we don’t see more of that [using an O-line rotation] in college football because we switch all the big guys on defense. We talk about it all the time – the big boys need rest.
“Why don’t you rotate offensive linemen more? Those guys are fatter and in less shape than the defensive line. News flash – those guys are usually a lot fatter.”
Howard on Patterson: “His tenure speaks for itself. The people who do what we do — we have the utmost respect for Coach Patterson and what he does for college football.”
Pollack on TCU doing a neutral site instead of home-and-home: “I think it would’ve really benefitted y’all greatly to play this in the muggy heat outside. If Ohio State would’ve had to come down here in the heat instead of JerryWorld like they’re going in the AC, I think that would’ve been even more beneficial for you guys cause they’re not used to mugginess and humidity like this. Side note.”
Davis on this game overshadowing Texas/ USC in Austin: “If Texas was competing for a national championship … that’s really what’s at stake for the winner of this game Saturday night. I think Ohio State is a significant favorite and rightfully so in my judgment, but should TCU win this game, it certainly changes the prospects and opportunities that TCU will have in terms of competing for a championship. So stakes are really high and it is pretty remarkable that this game overshadows the two quote unquote big brand names playing each other not too far away.”