Every year you hear college football players talk about how fast a season goes by and say, “You only get to do this 12 times a year.”
A lot of college football fans probably feel the same way about loading up the SUV, driving to campus, tailgating for hours and watching their favorite team play.
For them when they talk about how fast a football season rushes though the calendar, the reaction would be more like, “You only get to do this five or six times a year.”
Those Saturdays on campus are one of the charms of college football. But more and more college football teams are choosing to play games at neutral sites, including Ohio State, which will face Texas Christian University tonight in Dallas at AT&T Stadium, known to many as Jerry World in honor of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The reasons why football programs will hit the road to play on a neutral field are easy to see. The list starts with money and the attention generated by playing on national television is close behind.
Ohio State will get $5 million to play TCU, which might be three to five times what it could expect to get for an ordinary away game against a non-conference opponent. Also, it gets first-hand regional exposure in Texas, an area where it has recruited very well in the Urban Meyer years and somewhere it wants to continue doing that.
TCU also gets a big infusion of cash. And if it would beat Ohio State, it would get the kind of attention money can’t buy.
Originally, Ohio State and TCU agreed to a home and home series this year and in 2019. The two teams would have played in TCU’s 50,000-seat Amon G. Carter Stadium this season and in Ohio Stadium next year.
But when the change to AT&T Stadium was made that two-game series became a one-game neutral site showdown.
TCU fans were not too happy when the change was announced. If it had been on campus, it would have been part of the season ticket package. At Jerry World, face value adult tickets cost them between $100 and $350. And students, who get in free for ordinary home games, had to come up with $50 if they paid face value.
On the field Ohio State against TCU should be a really good game. But the atmosphere around the game might have been just a little bit better if it had been on TCU’s campus and closer to the students.
After all, ESPN’s College GameDay will be live at TCU on Saturday morning, not in the parking lot of AT&T Stadium.
So, what are the keys for Ohio State in its first real test of the season after two pushover opponents?
Here are five things to watch:
Ohio State’s deep and talented defensive line could have a favorable match-up against TCU’s offensive line, which has only one full-time returning starter back from last season’s 11-3 team.
TCU’s defense has speed but can it match the speed of Ohio State’s offense?
Will OSU quarterback Dwayne Haskins have another big game in his first start away from Ohio Stadium?
OSU can’t let TCU get a momentum changing touchdown from return man KaVontae Turpin (four career punt returns for touchdowns and one kickoff return for a TD).
Making TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson uncomfortable will be a priority. He’s a sophomore in his first year as a starter. After two games, which were blowout wins over Southern (55-7) and SMU (42-12), he leads the team in passing yards and rushing yards.
The prediction: Ohio State 35, TCU 21.