Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs finished the season ranked in the top 10 following an outstanding season. TCU took down Big 12 competitors Oklahoma State and West Virginia en route to an appearance in the conference championship game. A 39-37 win over Stanford in the Alamo Bowl capped a great 11-3 season in Fort Worth. Two of the Frogs’ losses came to Big 12 champion and College Football Playoff team, Oklahoma.
Returning just 11 starters, TCU falls significantly in terms of experience for 2018. Nonetheless, expect Gary Patterson to have his team ready to compete with anyone in the country.
TCU has a young offense stacked with talent
Of the five returning starters on offense, three of them come at either receiver or running back. Top 2017 rusher Darius Anderson returns to the TCU backfield. Anderson ran for 768 yards and eight touchdowns in a season shortened due to injury. This season, Patterson can expect a tandem of speed and power between Anderson and Sewo Olonilua.
As with every offense, TCU’s running game will depend on the cohesion of their offensive line. Returning just two starters (Cordel Iwuagwu and Lucas Niang), this line will have to mature in a hurry for a tough early schedule.
As for the receiving core, Kavontae Turpin and Jalen Reagor provide experience in the passing game for likely starting quarterback, Shawn Robinson. Gary Patterson stayed away from revealing too much about the quarterback competition in Fort Worth at the Big 12 media days (via Scott Bell, SportsDay). Nonetheless, expect Robinson to be at the helm of this TCU offense come September. Robinson played in six games and started one in 2017. The one start came on the road in Lubbock against a tough crowd. The now sophomore got the win on one passing touchdown and no interceptions.
Defense will top the Big 12
There is a real possibility that each of Chad Glasgow’s defensive position groups may be the best in the Big 12. Despite returning just six, the Horned Frog defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs are poised for a year of excellence. In a conference where defense can be hard to come by, one that is elite is exactly what the Frogs need to support a young quarterback and offensive line. Ridwan Issahaku returns to the Horned Frogs secondary where he was second on the team in tackles a year ago.
Ohio State and TCU have previously met six times. All six meetings came in Columbus, Ohio, with the first being a 14-0 Ohio State win in 1937. The Buckeyes lead the series 4-1-1.
ESPN FPI gives Ohio State an 80.6% chance of defeating TCU.
TCU is 9-4 against the last 13 ranked opponents.
TCU’s last regular season neutral site game as a loss to LSU. Though technically a neutral site, the game against Ohio State will be played less than 30 miles from TCU’s campus.
This is Ohio State’s first regular season neutral site game since playing Navy in 2014.
Ohio State has opened as 12 point favorites against the de facto home team, TCU. This game will be the first true test for either school. Ohio State opens up with Oregon State and Rutgers, while TCU begins with Southern and SMU.
Ohio State fans’ primary concerns should lie with the TCU defense. Glasgow’s defense very well could be one the two best defenses the Buckeyes will see this season. The Buckeyes should be especially wary of TCU enacting a bear defense similar to that of Virginia Tech in 2014. If TCU can manage to overload this Ohio State offensive line that will be breaking in two new starters, the Buckeyes’ running game will be in serious trouble.
Luckily for Ohio State, they will put up one of the best defensive lines in the country against a very inexperienced offensive line. In a battle of a Big 12 team and a Kevin Wilson spread offense, I think this will be a defensive battle. Ohio State wins, but does not cover the spread.
Ohio State 24, TCU 20