Dwayne Haskins is no stranger to the big lights.
In high school, the four-star prospect, according to 247Sports composite rankings, won back-to-back conference titles in Maryland’s Interstate Athletic Conference at Bullis School before committing to Ohio State.
Then, in his redshirt freshman year for the Buckeyes, Haskins led Ohio State back with 17 unanswered points to defeat Michigan 31-20 when quarterback J.T. Barrett went down with an injury.
Now with two collegiate starts, dominant victories in each, the redshirt sophomore quarterback faces his toughest challenge yet with No. 15 TCU.
“I think they do a really good job,” Haskins said. “They’re a really experienced team, and we’re getting ready for them.”
Haskins might be going into the biggest start of his Ohio State career, but in Wednesday’s interview, it seemed like any regular week.
Though this will be his first time starting a primetime game or facing a ranked opponent, Haskins seemed incredibly calm about the entire situation.
He said, regardless of the heightened pressure in the game, all he’s thinking about is how to win it.
“I really haven’t thought about that,” Haskins said. “The biggest thing for me is to go win the game and that’s all I want to do.”
So far this season, Haskins has proven to be calm and confident under center.
In his first two collegiate starts, Haskins has completed 79.2 percent of his passes for 549 yards and nine touchdowns, with only one interception. This has, in part, led to the Ohio State offense averaging 64.5 points per game through its first two matchups.
But, on Saturday night, in his third start, Haskins faces a TCU defense that has allowed only 9.5 points per game while holding opposing quarterbacks to the eighth-fewest passing yards per game in the NCAA.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson has always held a defense-first approach, even in the offense-heavy Big 12 conference. Acting head coach Ryan Day complimented the depth that TCU’s defense holds against his inexperienced quarterback.
“Coach Patterson has done a great job. They have all the answers,” Day said. “They make quick adjustments. They know exactly how you’re trying to attack them, so very, very talented group.”
The Horned Frogs will give the Buckeyes their first real challenge, their first major opponent after handedly defeating Oregon State and Rutgers.
But an outside viewer would never be able to tell that Haskins, a quarterback who just made his first two starts at Ohio State, is about to go up against one of the highest-ranked defenses in the nation on Saturday.
Instead, Haskins said if anything rattles him, it’s his dogs, and maybe some school work.
“Probably the biggest thing is homework,” Haskins said. “Having to take my dogs out and pick their, you now, stuff up, that gets me pretty riled up.”