Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kory Curtis (6) attempts to dodge Oregon State Beavers linebacker Kee Whetzel (7) in the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes 77-31 win against the Oregon State Beavers on September 1 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo
Win or lose, the Ohio State game will not define TCU's season
There's no doubt that Saturday's game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, between No. 15 TCU and fourth-ranked Buckeyes is big for both teams. Nor is there any question that the contest will have an impact on just who gets a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
But Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson said Monday that the game will not define his team's season.
"It's win or lose, and then your season is going forward or getting over with," Patterson said about the Ohio State game. "The worst thing we could do at TCU is put all of our balls in one basket. If you can win it, you're going to be part of that [playoff] conversation. If you don't win it, you don't.
"But we've got Texas next week, start of Big 12 Conference play, then Iowa State before we get a break."
TCU (2-0) struggled early on against Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rival SMU before rolling to a 42-12 win on the road last Friday. The Horned Frogs' KaVontae Turpin had a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown, caught a 42-yard pass from Shawn Robinson for another score and made a critical tackle after a Robinson interception that kept the SMU defender from a pick-six.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Patterson said after the win over SMU. "We'll keep working. Just gotta keep getting stronger, keep getting better. Obviously this is a great win."
With the eyes of the college football world on this week's game, TCU understands the importance of this game even as it downplays it. The Horned Frogs are unfazed by being a two-touchdown underdog and linebacker Alec Dunham said his team is confident.
"Confident is a good word," said Dunham, who returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown against SMU. "But I would just say more we have to go into the week and get prepared. When we go in Saturday I want to say, 'I'm going into Ohio State prepared versus confident.'"
Meanwhile, Ohio State (2-0) heads to Arlington on the heels of a 52-3 sandblasting of Rutgers at home last Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. built off his five-touchdown performance in Week 1 by completing 20 of 23 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Scarlet Knights before exiting in the third quarter.
Ryan Day's three-game stint as Ohio State's acting head coach will end this week, but he has learned in his six weeks filling in for suspended Urban Meyer that the pressure is there every week and that labeling a game "big" over any other is a mistake.
"If you don't think it's a big game, try losing it, you know?" Day said Monday. "They are all big. ... Every game you've got to be ready, you've got to be prepared and do a great job. When you come to Ohio State and you play at the highest level of college football, you have to bring your 'A' game every week. That's not any different this week."
TCU and Ohio State are meeting for the seventh time in their history and first time since 1973. The Buckeyes hold a 4-1-1 series edge with all six previous meetings in Columbus. The Horned Frogs' lone victory was an 18-14 decision in 1957.