COLUMBUS – It was like they’d been coached and they probably had been.
Going from Ohio State player to player you got pretty much the same answer about how they felt about Saturday night’s match-up of ranked teams when OSU plays Texas Christian University at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Wide receiver Parris Campbell said, “We’re excited. It’s a Top 20 match-up. It’s the big stage, big lights. We’re ready.”
Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said, “It’s a prime time game, it’s a ranked team. They’re going to be really hungry to play us and we’re hungry to play them.”
Acting coach Ryan Day pointed out the obvious when asked on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday if this game could alter the course of this season the same way a loss to Oklahoma did last year.
This is a big game but they’re all big games at Ohio State, Day said.
“That was a different team last year and that was a long time ago. But I think they (Ohio State’s players) know every week what is at stake. We’re here at Ohio State to win every game. We have to win every game. That’s understood. It goes without saying,” Day said.
Ohio State (2-0) comes into the game ranked No. 4. TCU (2-0) is No. 15.
In the 15 seasons just before this one, OSU has played a ranked non-conference opponent while ranked itself nine times. The last two times were last season when No. 5 Oklahoma beat No. 2 Ohio State 31-16 and in 2016 when No. 3 OSU beat No. 14 Oklahoma 45-24.
Ohio State has a 5-4 record in those nine match-ups and two of the wins came in the same season in 2003.
In a span of three games in 2003, No. 2 Ohio State defeated No. 17 Washington 28-9, then came back two weeks later to win 44-38 in three overtimes against No. 24 North Carolina State. Both those games were in Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State’s players have some familiarity with AT&T Stadium, where they played against USC in the Cotton Bowl last season, and where the 2014 OSU team won the national championship game against Oregon. Only three current Buckeyes – receiver Johnnie Dixon, linebacker Dante Booker and kicker Sean Nuernberger – were on the roster in 2014.
While Day said the game being “right down the street for them” as one of his concerns about TCU, some of Ohio State’s players think they will be comfortable in a stadium they know well.
“We won the national championship there, we won a bowl game there last year. It’s like our home. We have to come in and take over,” Jones said. “We’ve had a lot of success (there) over the years and we’re going to continue that success.”
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was less sure there will be any kind of home field advantage, though.
“I haven’t given that a lot of thought. It’s a good question. Certainly there will be a familiarity with the stadium, the locker rooms and all that stuff,” he said. “So I guess any time you’re more familiar with something it’s a little bit easier.
“But it’s really a home game for them. It’s 30 minutes down the road. So I wouldn’t get too excited about it.”