September 8, 2006


Who Needs Warmup? Nation's Top Two Square Off in Week 2 (RUSSELL LEVINE, September 8, 2006, NY Sun)

NO. 1 OHIO STATE (1-0) AT NO.2 TEXAS (1-0)
(Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NBC)

If last year's meeting between these teams in Columbus was highly anticipated, this one is off the charts. It's the first regular-season game between the top two teams in the AP poll since Florida vs. Florida State in 1996. Texas won a nail-biter last season thanks to some late-game heroics from Vince Young, a fitting prelude to the Longhorns' Rose Bowl win over USC.

But Young is now wearing a Tennessee Titans jersey. His replacement, Colt McCoy, looked just fine in his debut against North Texas, but that experience won't necessarily prepare him to face an Ohio State defense that is green (nine new starters) but loaded with NFL-caliber talent.

On defense, Texas has an additional problem. Not only do the Longhorns have to contend with Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith, who does a pretty passable imitation of Young, but they must do so without suspended cornerback Tarell Brown. Arrested earlier this week on drug and weapons charges, Brown would have drawn the assignment of guarding explosive receiver Ted Ginn. In an evenly matched contest, that absence could prove decisive.

To emerge from Austin with its no. 1 ranking intact, Ohio State will have to overcome not only a raucous environment, but also the heat and humidity of late-summer in Texas, where temperatures could reach the mid-90s Saturday. Whichever team emerges victorious from this contest will likely have a stranglehold on the top spot in the polls and the inside track to the BCS title game in January.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 8, 2006 8:19 AM

I dunno, once the airings of the English Prem matches are over on Saturday, I'm tuning into JoePa's trip to the Bend to take on the Irish. Texas against OSU? Bah.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 8, 2006 11:50 AM

I'd rather watch the Mariners lose again.

Go Supersonics! And take the Seahawks with you!!!

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 8, 2006 12:15 PM

UT is fast becomming the college equivalent of the 1995 Dallas Cowboys, who were hit with a series of drug, weapons and DUI incidents following their Super Bowl victory over Pittsburgh and under head coach Barry Switzer, who was known for the same sort of shenanigans going on around him while at Oklahoma.

With the latest arrest, I'd go with Ohio State on Saturday, since the match-up was supposed to match the teams' two strongest units -- OSU's offense and UT's defense -- and the two weak points on both teams, the young Buckeye defense vs. the inexperienced Longhorns' offense. If Texas doesn't have the manpower to keep Ohio State in check, young Colt had better develop as Young's QB successor pretty quickly.

Posted by: John at September 8, 2006 1:48 PM

Unfortunately, Texas is going to beat them by at least ten points. Two returning starters on defense for OSU? In Austin? Hang on, Sloopy.

PS Next week's Saturday night game is USC versus Nebraska. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Nebraska athletic department.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 9, 2006 2:04 AM