Ohio State was tested for the first time this season and, after trailing by eight points in the third quarter, rallied behind the defense and sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins as the No. 4 Buckeyes defeated No. 15 TCU 40-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.
Haskins’ 63-yard TD pass to Parris Campbell ignited the rally and an interception return by junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones gave the Buckeyes (3-0) a 26-21 lead they would never relinquish.
TCU (2-1) trailed 10-0 early but led 14-13 at the half before stretching the advantage to 21-13.
Haskins was 24 of 38 for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Texas native J.K. Dobbins ran for 121 yards on 18 attempts for OSU. Mike Weber added 64 yards on the ground and receiver K.J. Hill had six catches for 95 yards.
TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson was 24 for 40 for 308 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Darius Anderson had 12 carries for 154 yards, including a 93-yard touchdown for a 14-10 TCU lead with 9:08 left in the second quarter. It was the longest scoring run in TCU history and the longest TD play from scrimmage ever allowed by the Buckeyes.
OSU had 526 yards, including 182 rushing, and 29 first downs. TCU totaled 511 yards, with 203 by rushing, and 22 first downs.
The Buckeyes won despite losing junior All-American defensive end Nick Bosa to a lower abdomen strain in the third quarter. He had five tackles and a sack that led to a fumble recovery by Davon Hamilton for OSU’s first TD.
The Buckeyes led 10-7 after a frenetic first quarter.
Ohio State started at its 25 after the opening kickoff and drove to the TCU 2 but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger for a 3-0 lead at the 13:20 mark.
Haskins hit consecutive passes of 16 and 48 yards to Austin Mack to reach the 2. Dobbins lost a yard on first down, Haskins missed Rashod Berry on a pass, then found Mack in the back of the need zone but he dropped the ball to set up the three points.
TCU went to a hurry-up offense on its first drive and rattled the Buckeyes with Jalen Reagor having back-to-back catches totaling 28 yards to put the Horned Frogs at the OSU 16.
The Horned Frogs were unable to punch it in because a 13-yard TD run by Anderson was nullified by a holding penalty by KaVontae Turpin. When the drive stalled, Cole Bunce missed 31-yard field.
On the Buckeyes’ next series Haskins connected with K.J. Hill for 20 yards but OSU later was forced to punt and Drue Chrisman dropped the at the 7 on a fair catch by Turpin.
Sewo Olonilua rushed for two yards but on second down defensive end Nick Bosa stripped Robinson and Hamilton recovered the loose ball for a touchdown with 7:13 remaining for a 10-0 lead.
TCU bounced back to go 84 yards in seven plays, using 2:41 off the clock. The drive began at the Horned Frogs’ 16. After a Robinson rush for 11 and an OSU offside, Reagor had a 42-yard reception down the right sideline.
The Buckeyes helped TCU again when Damon Arnette was called for interference. The 14-yard penalty put the ball on the OSU 9. Anderson ran for six, but Robinson was off-target on second down, Olonilua then burst through for a 6-yard TD to make it 10-7 at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter.
The Buckeyes on their first series of the second quarter were unable to take advantage of a roughing-the-passer call and Chrisman punted to the 7.
Robinson threw an incompletion on first down, but Anderson scored on his historic run to put OSU behind for the first time this season, 14-10, with 9:08 to go.
OSU went to the ground game when it got the ball back. Dobbins had six carries for 28 yards and K.J. Hill had a catch for 10 yards, but the Buckeyes failed to capitalize on a first-and-10 at the TCU 14, gaining only a yard by Dobbins plus two incompletes to Johnnie Dixon. Nuernberger made a 30-yard field goal with 5:34 left in the half.
The Buckeyes had one more chance to go into the locker room with the lead but after a 69-yard drive that consumed 15 plays and 2:39, Nuernberger missed a 38-yard field goal with two seconds left.
Matters got worse for OSU early in the third when Bosa left the game with an injury after a 14-yard Reagor catch. The Horned Frogs did not score on the series. An OSU three-and-out gave the possession at the TCU 48 following Chrisman’s 34-yard punt.
Anderson gained eight and Jarrison Stewart 28 on a catch to reach the OSU 16. Anderson then ran in from there with a dive at the pylon to make it 21-13 with 10:43 left.
A quiet night for senior receiver Parris Campbell exploded on one play to cut the deficit to 21-19 with 6:58 remaining. On second and 10 from the OSU 37, Campbell dropped back to the 35 to take the screen pass from Haskins, used his blockers, then outraced everybody for the 63-yard TD pass.
A two-point conversion failed when Haskins was hurried as he tried another screen.
It was just a temporary setback. TCU needed five yards on third down from its 30 when Robinson tried a shovel pass. It didn’t work. Jones pushed the offensive line back and intercepted the attempt and, after several nifty moves, scored from 28 yards for a 26-19 lead at the 5:54 mark.
The defensive came through again on TCU’s next series when a bad snap resulted in a partially blocked punt of Adam Nunez by Shaun Wade. The kick went two yards to the TCU 25.
Mike Weber ran for a yard before Haskins had a 24-yard scoring strike to K.J. Hill with 2:57 left in the third to make it 33-21 and cap a flurry of 20 points in 4:01.
Back came TCU when Robinson lofted a 51-yard TD pass to Tre’Vontae Hights with 1:06 remaining in the wild third quarter for a 33-38 score. There were 34 points scored in the period.
Haskins finished an eight-play, 75-yard drive with 3:36 used off the clock when he scored his first career rushing TD, from five yards, with 12:30 remaining in the game to make it 40-28. Key plays were 18-, nine- and 11-yard rushes by Dobbins and a 20-yard catch by Dixon.
The game was sealed when Malik Harrison intercepted Robinson at the TCU 40 with 2:37 left and the Buckeyes ran out the clock.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day served as the acting head coach for the final time. Head coach Urban Meyer returns from a three-game suspension against Tulane in Ohio Stadium on Sept. 22. He was banned by the university for his mismanagement of former assistant Zach Smith, who faces allegations of domestic violence and other indiscretions before being fired July 22.