Through the first two games of the season, the Ohio State defensive line has been one of the main examples of the team’s dominance, with junior Nick Bosa and sophomore Chase Young on either end and redshirt junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones in the middle.
In Saturday’s game against No. 15 TCU, Ohio State’s defensive line was the reason behind No. 4 Ohio State securing its first win of the season against a ranked opponent, defeating the Horned Frogs 40-28 at AT&T Stadium.
The Ohio State defensive line came into the game with a few hurdles to overcome: a mobile quarterback, something the defense had not seen this season, and an offensive line that had not allowed a sack in their first two games this season.
Bosa set the tone early.
When TCU sophomore quarterback Shawn Robinson hiked the ball in the second play of his second drive, the junior defensive end easily moved past the right guard, with nothing staying in between him and the sophomore quarterback. Seconds later, Bosa, from the quarterback’s blind side, collided with Robinson in the endzone, forcing him to drop the ball.
Redshirt junior defensive tackle Davon Hamilton finished what Bosa had started, picking up the ball and giving Ohio State its first touchdown of the day.
However, Bosa left the game in the third quarter with a lower body injury and did not return. He left with five tackles, including the strip sack, and a forced fumble.
Ohio State acting head coach Ryan Day did not give any update on Bosa after the game, saying he was still being evaluated.
Jones said, when Bosa left with the injury, it was a bit of “a wake-up call” for the defense as a whole moving forward.
“We were like ‘Alright, we have to go out there and play,'” Jones said. ‘”There was no one relying on on him to make a play. We have to rely on ourselves, we have to rely on each other,’ and I think tonight, after a hard first half, we did.
In his absence, the Ohio State defense was not done.
In the third quarter, with the Horned Frog offense on its own 28-yard line, Robinson attempted a short shovel pass in front of his offensive line. However, Jones read the play, stepped in front of the passer, intercepted the ball and brought in Ohio State’s second defensive touchdown of the day, giving Ohio State the 26-21 lead, a lead that Ohio State wouldn’t give up on the way to its third win of the season.
Jones would also leave the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury, but returned to the defensive line in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with two tackles for loss, including a sack, an interception and a broken up pass
While the Ohio State defense scored 14 points in Saturday’s 12-point win over TCU, the Buckeye offense was not the same as what it had been against Oregon State and Rutgers.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins found his connection in the passing game early, connecting with junior wide receiver Austin Mack twice for 64 yards in the first drive of the game, bringing the Buckeyes to the TCU 2-yard line.
That’s when Mack’s day started to take a turn.
After handing the ball off to Dobbins for another 1-yard rush and an incomplete pass to redshirt junior tight end Rashod Berry, Haskins found Mack on a slant route in the middle. Throwing a dagger right into the hands of his receiver, something Haskins had seen work after two targets earlier in the drive, Mack dropped the pass, forcing Ohio State to hit one of two field goal makes in three attempts in the first half.
Mack’s dropped pass in the end zone began what proved to be a trying day for the junior wide receiver. With nine targets from Haskins, Mack dropped four passes, bringing in four catches for 84 yards.
For a quarterback whose main target was struggling to catch passes as well as experiencing an amount of pressure in the pocket he did not feel in the first two wins of the season, Haskins said he had to adjust and overcome adversity for the first time this season.
“We got punched in the mouth, but it was a fight,” Haskins said. “We have to be able to rebound it, and we did in the second half.”
In the second half, Haskins tightened up as a passer, completing eight of 10 pass attempts for 148 yards, throwing two touchdown passes. He finished the game with 344 yards through the air, his second of three games this season in which he has thrown more than 300 yards in a game, completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts.
Throwing two touchdown passes, including a 63-yard pass to redshirt senior receiver Parris Campbell in the third quarter, Haskins recorded his first career rushing touchdown, a five-yard rush to the left in the fourth quarter.
Despite Haskins scoring the only rushing touchdown of the day for the Buckeyes, sophomore J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber combined for 185 yards on the ground, with Dobbins leading the way with 121 yards on 18 carries.
Even with two defensive touchdowns scored, the Ohio State defense struggled to contain Robinson and the TCU offense. The Buckeyes allowed 511 yards, including 203 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.
Junior running back Darius Anderson recorded two touchdowns, including a 93-yard touchdown run, the longest touchdown Ohio State has given up in school history. He finished the day with 154 yards on the ground, averaging 12.8 yards per carry.
Day said he knew, going into his first ranked game of the season, that everything was not going to go in favor of Ohio State like it had been during the first two wins over Oregon State and Rutgers.
“We knew there was going to be ebbs and flows in a game like this,” Day said. “We talked about how everything is not going to go perfect. There were times in the two weeks previously where things really went well for us, you know. We knew there was going to be times where we hit adversity and that we have to stick together in times like that and I thought we did.”
Ohio State secured its victory with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter as junior linebacker Malik Harrison recorded his first career interception.
The Buckeyes look to continue their three-game win streak at home on Sept. 22 against Tulane.
Updated at 1:34 a.m. with quotes from the postgame press conference.