Ohio State Buckeyes vs. TCU Horned Frogs (+13)
Sat. 9/15, 8:00 p.m. EST
Three things you need to know before betting on Ohio State-TCU:
1. Saturday night easily will be Ohio State’s toughest challenge of the early season—a night game against TCU without head coach Urban Meyer. The Buckeyes haven’t needed Meyer’s coaching ability just yet, as they have outscored vastly inferior opponents in Oregon State and Rutgers by a total of 129-34. But this game against the Horned Frogs should be different, as TCU is legitimately talented and Gary Patterson is one of the best coaches in the nation when it comes to game preparation. That has been especially the case when playing as an underdog of 10.5 to 21 points, where he is 7-1 ATS in his time with TCU. However, Patterson’s TCU team is a lousy 0-8 ATS in home games in the first half of the year over the last two seasons—and this is essentially a home game. A big play from the Buckeyes could suck the life out of AT&T Stadium quickly, and they have the explosive offense to pull that off.
2. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has been as excellent as advertised. Considered a Heisman candidate before the season, the sophomore has already thrown for nine touchdowns with only one pick. Whether or not he’s able to approach that level of play against a good TCU defense will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. It might be early, but the Horned Frogs have allowed a total of only 212 passing yards thus far. And they played a Sonny Dykes offense in Week 2, so that number has at least some amount of meaning. But SMU doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of talent that Ohio State has all over the field. RBs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins have combined to rush for 364 yards and four touchdowns behind Haskins, and they’ll continue to make plays the rest of the season to take pressure off of the quarterback. Ohio State also has a surplus of weapons at wide receiver, which will make defending the Buckeyes a nightmare for the Horned Frogs.
3. Defensively, OSU DE Nick Bosa just might be the most dominant player in college football. He’ll hear his name called early in the NFL draft next year but, along with the rest of a dominant defensive line, he’ll be terrorizing quarterbacks like Shawn Robinson until then. The TCU sophomore has all the athleticism in the world, as evidenced by his 112 yards and three touchdowns on the ground this season. That should help him get away from the Buckeyes’ pass rush on a couple of occasions, but there’s no way he’ll be able to escape it fully. And Robinson needs a lot of work as a passer, which could be the difference on Saturday. Robinson completed 17 of 24 passes against Southern in TCU’s season opener, but he was just 15-of-28 for 146 yards with a touchdown and a pick against SMU last week. Even with skilled players like wideout KaVontae Turpin and running back Darius Anderson around him, he’s not going to find anywhere near the kind of daylight he did against the Mustangs. It should be a long night for him.
The Pick: Ohio State -13
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)