Ohio State vs. TCU
September 13, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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Matchup: Ohio State vs. TCU
Venue: AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas
TV/Time: ABC, 8:00 p.m. ET
With its head coach left behind in Columbus due to a three-game suspension for being a serial liar who tried to get his AD fired and refused to offer an apology to an alleged victim of domestic violence at a press conference he had nearly a month to prepare for, THE Ohio State University football team that values winning over class, integrity, common decency and multiple breaches of contract by its still-suspended HC (‘Oscar Meyer’ or ‘Urban Liar’, whichever you prefer) travels to Jerry World in Arlington to take on TCU this Saturday night.
ABC will provide the broadcast at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. As of early Thursday, most betting shops had the Buckeyes installed as a 12.5-point favorites with the total in the 59-60 range. The Horned Frogs were +400 on the money line (risk $100 to win $400).
Ohio State (2-0 straight up, 2-0 against the spread) has beaten up on Oregon State (70-31) and Rutgers (52-3) in a pair of spread-covering home games to date. Ryan Day has served as the acting head coach in Meyer’s absence.
Ohio State has won at least 11 games in every season since Meyer arrived after he retired for one year (or quit on the Gators twice in 347 days because he wanted to get out of the same conference as Nick Saban, whichever you prefer) in 2012. The Buckeyes have at least 12 wins in five of those six seasons. They returned seven starters on offense and five on defense from last year’s outfit that finished 12-2 SU and 8-6 ATS.
Like I’ve been saying since that tone-deaf, despicable disgrace of a presser in August, I don’t see Meyer at Ohio State into the distant future. You see, there are some people out there that figured out how this mercurial dude operates a long time ago.
He’s bitter at the school President for insisting on a suspension. He’s livid he had to participate in that press conference. His relationship with AD Gene Smith is finished after Meyer tried to deflect all the blame for the Zach Smith Fiasco (that started with an arrest in 2009 when Oscar was still at UF) toward his boss in the first of three lengthy tweets he’s sent out (while only being available to answer questions from the media once – and how’d that go?!) to explain his actions (or lies, whichever you prefer) since self-induced turmoil ingulfed his program due to his inability to tell the truth in front of hundreds of media members at Big Ten Media Days.
Anyhoo, the point I’m trying to make is that Day is no dummy. Day knows he’s auditioning for a job that could be his in the not-too-distant future. And on that note, he did everything in his power to make the wealthy boosters happy in the opener against the Beavers.
Why else would Ohio State score 21 points in the fourth quarter to secure the spread cover as a 40-point home favorite vs. Oregon State? Why else would Day go for it on fourth-and-two with a 70-31 advantage late in the final stanza?
Ohio State produced 723 yards of total offense against the Beavers, who were ahead of the number the entire game until Master Teague broke a 33-yard touchdown run with 3:50 remaining. In his first career start, QB Dwayne Haskins completed 22-of-30 passes for 313 yards and five TDs with one interception. RB Mike Weber had 186 rushing yards and three TDs on 20 carries, in addition to making a three-yard TD reception. WR Terry McLaurin had four catches for 121 yards and two TDs.
Ohio State dealt out woodshed treatment again last week to RU, easily taking the cash in the 52-3 victory as a 34.5-point home favorite. Gamblers backing the ‘over’ were left disappointed when the 55 combined points fell ‘under’ the 58-point tally when only seven points were scored in the fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes enjoyed a 579-134 advantage over the Scarlet Knights in total offense. Haskins was extremely sharp, connecting on 20-of-23 throws for 233 yards and four TDs without an interception. Johnnie Dixon, who had a team-best eight TD catches in 2017, had four receptions for 89 yards and two TDs. Paris Campbell caught five balls for 64 yards and one TD, while McLaurin had a 51-yard TD grab.
TCU (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) opened the season with a 55-7 win over Southern, but it failed to hook up its betting supporters as a 50-point home ‘chalk.’ Making his second career start as a true sophomore, Shawn Robinson completed 17-of-24 passes for 182 yards and three TDs without an interception. He also had 45 rushing yards and two TDs on only two attempts.
Senior speedster KaVontae Turpin produced 108 all-purpose yards on 10 touches, while WR TreVontae Hights had a 57-yard TD catch. True freshman WR Derius Davis had an instant impact in his collegiate debut, hauling in three receptions for 49 yards and one TD and returning a punt 73 yards for a score.
Gary Patterson’s club returned five starters on offense and six on defense from a team that finished 2017 with an 11-3 SU record and a 6-7-1 ATS ledger. Patterson, who is the second-longest tenured FBS coach behind only Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, led the Horned Frogs to a 39-37 comeback win over Stanford in the Alamo Bowl.
TCU has had an extra day of rest and preparation for OSU after shaking off a slow start to defeat SMU 42-12 as a 23.5-point road ‘chalk’ last Friday night. The 54 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 59-point total.
The Mustangs led 9-0 at the end of the first quarter and trailed only 14-12 at halftime. In fact, the Frogs didn’t score an offensive TD in the first half. They got a 78-yard punt return for a TD from Turpin and then took the lead when Jaelan Austin recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score.
Another defensive TD, this time on a 25-yard fumble return by Alec Dunham, extended TCU’s lead to 21-12. The offense finally got involved when Robinson ran for an 18-yard score midway through the third quarter. Robinson found Turpin for a 42-yard scoring strike early in the fourth, and then the Frogs went ahead of the number to stay thanks to Michael Collins’s 10-yard TD scamper.
However, TCU’s 393 yards of total offense at SMU wasn’t the type of performance it was looking for. This unit must play better to have a shot at an upset against the Buckeyes. Remember, North Texas QB Mason Fine threw for 444 yards and three TDs without an interception versus the Mustangs in Week 1.
Patterson always fields a salty defense. Last year’s unit allowed only 19.0 points per game. Obviously, TCU’s ‘D’ hasn’t faced an elite offense yet, but we will note that SMU put up 36 points on the Frogs last year. Furthermore, the Mustangs brought back QB Ben Hicks (33/12 TD-INT LY) and their top three rushers from last season.
With the game at AT&T Stadium, it isn’t technically at home for TCU. But for those thinking of it as such, we’ll point out that the Frogs have been home underdogs just six times in the past decade. They’re 2-4 ATS in those spots. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are 12-11 ATS as road favorites since Meyer took over.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Utah has compiled a 9-5 spread record in 14 games as a home underdog during Kyle Whittingham’s 14-year tenure. The Utes were 5.5-point home ‘dogs vs. Washington as of Thursday.
-- I pointed out how Maryland was an underrated team over the summer. I must admit, however, that the controversy with D.J. Durkin scared me away from backing the Terrapins in Week 1. Anyway, part of my reasoning was the arrival of three Power Five transfers. Tre’ Watson, a former LB at Illinois who arrived via the grad-transfer route, ha 13 tackles (10 solo), one pass broken up and one interception through two games. Byron Cowart, a former five-star recruit who was a disappointment at Auburn before moving on to a juco, has six tackles and one sack, while former FSU cornerback Marcus Lewis has recorded five tackles. The unbeaten Terps (both SU and ATS) are double-digit home favorites vs. Temple.
-- Five Players making surprising/stellar impacts:
1-Cole McDonald (Hawaii QB)
2-Scottie Phillips (Ole Miss RB)
3-Kylin Hill (Mississippi St. RB)
4-Andre Cisco (Syracuse DB)
5-Laviska Shenault (Colorado WR)
-- Shenault leads the nation in receiving yards per game (194.0 YPG), McDonald leads the nation in passing yards (1,165) and TD passes (13 without an interception), Cisco is the country’s co-leader in interceptions as a true freshman and Phillips, a juco transfer, is tops in the SEC and third in the nation in rushing yards per game (155.5 YPG) and fourth in rushing scores with four. With MSU veteran back Aeris Williams slowed by an injury, Hill has run for 261 yards and three TDs with a 10.0 YPC average.
-- Georgia and Clemson have both moved their non-conference home games to noon Eastern kicks due to Hurricane Florence. The Bulldogs and Tigers are hosting Middle Tennessee and Georgia Southern, respectively.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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