It seemed evident that the matchup between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 15 TCU would come down to the two players behind center.
With a combined five starts between redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins and sophomore Shawn Robinson, the two came in without experience in a meaningful matchup, both proving their worth against lesser opponents.
Though their styles are much different, between Haskins’ pass-first mentality and Robinson’s dual-threat ability, the two came in with a very similar amount of experience, and it was Haskins who came out on top, avoiding costly turnovers and giving the Buckeyes enough to overcome the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas.
In No. 4 Ohio State’s 40-28 victory over No. 15 TCU, Haskins ended the day with 344 yards and two touchdowns through the air, completing 64.2 percent of his passes.
Robinson threw for 308 yards, completing 60 percent of his throws and ended with one passing touchdown.
But the major stat that stood between the two unseasoned quarterbacks was the turnover margin. Haskins and the Ohio State offense didn’t commit a single turnover, while Robinson committed three: one fumble and two interceptions.
Two of those turnovers were taken back for touchdowns.
“I have to be better. There were those two plays that I just can’t do,” Robinson said. “For the game, we came out and played hard. We just didn’t get it done.”
In the run game, something that Robinson was known for coming in, Haskins still held the advantage. The Ohio State quarterback ran in a touchdown from five yards out, the first rushing touchdown of his college career, and out rushed Robinson for the whole game, even if it was only eight yards to Robinson’s seven.
When asked about his quarterback’s performance, TCU head coach Gary Patterson left no doubt on his opinion of Robinson overall.
“A couple times I told him, ‘you need to run,’” Patterson said. “I think he’s a good football player, if that’s what you’re asking.”
The game didn’t start out perfectly for Haskins, with Patterson bringing more defensive pressure on the redshirt sophomore than he has seen this season, forcing Haskins into rushed throws and a lower completion percentage than he normally produces.
Ohio State would trail the Horned Frogs by as much as eight in the game, and failed to score an offensive touchdown until halfway through the third quarter, when Haskins found redshirt senior wide receiver Parris Campbell for a 63-yard score.
Robinson, on the other hand, found success early on, using a fast tempo to keep Ohio State’s defense on its heels, making short play after short play, much like the Ohio State offense has run early in the 2018 season, until a deep throw opened up.
Robinson connected on three throws of more than 30 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown toss to junior wide receiver TreVontae Hights.
But, as the game progressed, small mistakes separated the quarterbacks, as Robinson was intercepted on a shovel pass by redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who returned it for the touchdown, giving Ohio State a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes did not give up that lead the rest of the game.
“Anytime you’re playing in a game like this and you can win the turnover battle, that’s our plan to win,” acting head coach Ryan Day said. “We didn’t turn the ball over, and we got three turnovers, two of them for scores. That’s huge.”
Ohio State comes out of Arlington with its first win over a ranked opponent, and one that was helped a lot in part by the defense coming up with major scoring plays.
But, when it comes down to it, the Buckeyes needed more of the same consistent production Haskins has offered all season, and in crunch time he delivered, outplaying Robinson to take down the Horned Frogs in their home state.
Haskins said,no matter the quality of TCU’s defense, it is the time during the week that gets him prepared for big games like this.
“They’re a really great defense but, like I said, I go against the best defense in the country every day in practice,” Haskins said. “It’s a really great defense at TCU, they play really hard, didn’t make too many mistakes, I’ve gotta capitalize on keeping momentum, and eventually we did throughout the rest of the game.”