So, Texas. No Vince Young, no problem for the Buckeyes, right?
Not exactly. They lost Young, but, as the old cliche goes, they don't rebuild, they reload. There's talent everywhere. In fact, from the look of things, QB is about the only weakness on this team.
Ok, in that case, how can OSU possibly win?
Well, looks can be deceiving. Texas does have to replace about eleven starters, including the kicker and punter. They do have to replace plenty of other big names besides Young. Safety Michael Huff is gone, as is tight end (and leading receiver) David Thomas. They also lose defensive tackle Rod Wright, cornerback Cedric Griffin, and middle linebacker Aaron Harris, all of whom are All American-caliber players. Word on the message boards is that the replacements are generally better than the guys they're replacing. That may be true, but then, OSU's rebuilt defense might be better than last year's, too. I have doubts either statement will end up being true.
Plus, Ohio State has history on their side. The home team has never won in the history of the Texas-Ohio State series. Additionally, teams that play two quarterbacks have a losing record in the series. So there's that.
Ok, so maybe a win is possible. Give me some Texas players to name-drop so I can sound like I know what I'm talking about.
We'll start with Jamaal Charles. He'll split time at running back with Selvin Young and Henry Melton, but he's the one you'll notice the most. He's fast and talented, and will play a big part in the offense. With the departure of Ramonce Taylor, he becomes the big-play threat in the Texas backfield. Containing him will be central to any Buckeye success.
Justin Blalock is probably gonna be the first Longhorn drafted in April. It sounds like he's moving over to guard to make room for a redshirt freshman at right tackle, but he's good wherever he plays. I'd offer more information, but as I've mentioned, I don't know enough about offensive line play to do anything other than take the word of people more knowledgeable than I.
Michael Griffin's an exciting dude at safety. He was very good last year, and should be even better this year. He'll likely be all over the field, including special teams, where he's apparently developed something of a knack for blocking punts. You'll probaly hear his name a lot. Just hope it's on tackles downfield, and not on any big interceptions or the like.
Last, but not least, is Greg Johnson, kicker. He'll likely handle field goals, punts, and kickoffs for the Longhorns. He's definitely a talent at punter, but it remains to be seen if he's as good a kicker as he is punter. If so, their kicking game is in pretty good shape.
Now I know everything there is to know about their football team. What will they do when they have the ball?
Run. Then run. Probably run a third time. Then they will repeat, or punt. As Peter noted, Tresselball's probably going to be in full effect in Austin. They have inexperienced QBs, talented running backs, a good O-line, and a potentially great defense. It would seem to make sense to rely on the running game and defense to win games.
Conversely, our defensive plan will probably be to put the game in the hands of Colt McCoy and/or Jevean Snead. If the Buckeye defense can stop the run and the offense can score some points, then the Longhorns will have to try to win the game through the air. And if either young QB proves capable of doing that, well, then we're all screwed and Mack Brown should clear some more space in the ol' trophy case for another crystal football.
What about when the good guys have the ball?
That's a good question. I think Tressel would like to be able to control the game on the ground, but I don't know if that will work. If things go as planned and the defense gets some stops, Tressel will probably try to dominate time of possession, shorten the game, and get Texas to the "Hey, Colt/Jevean, go try to win this huge game in your second collegiate start" point as soon as possible. If Texas doesn't give much ground on the, um, ground, then the Buckeyes will try the air. Really, I wouldn't be surprised by anything when Ohio State has the ball, with the exception of total offensive domination on the level of last year's Fiesta Bowl. The Texas defense, it is safe to say, is better than that Notre Dame defense.
The Texas defense, meanwhile, will probably look to force some turnovers, especially since Troy Smith has been known to give the ball away from time to time. If he can avoid doing that, it would obviously help the offense greatly.
Wow, that's some Corso-level analysis there, buddy. "If the quarterback doesn't turn the ball over, that's good." You should be proud.
Shut up. You're a figment of my imagination. I have made you; I can unmake you.
Anyway, how do you think the game will play out?
Ideally? The Buckeyes get a couple big plays early to silence the crowd a bit. I'm thinking a long touchdown pass to Ted Ginn, and maybe an interception return for a touchdown to rattle one of the Texas QB's. OSU takes firm control of the game, and never relinquishes it. Texas doesn't totally fall apart, but everyone sees the end coming by the second quarter. Sure enough, Texas can't put anything together, and OSU wins comfortably. I'm thinking something along the lines of the subway scene in the Matrix, minus the whole "dramatic line and escape" from Neo/Texas. You can see the Buckeye victory coming from a mile away, and sure enough, it happens. That would make my weekend.
Hear that, Coach Brown? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your defeat.
Will that actually happen, though?
If it does, I'll eat my hat.
Yeah, but be advised: it is a meat hat.
One always looks neat, in a hat made of meat.
In reality, I except a close game, and another classic like the last matchup. The amount of talent involved in this game is amazing, from the coaches to the kickers. Texas will be favored, and rightly so, but not by much, and Ohio State is certainly capable of winning. I think the game will come down to which team can control the ball. Aside from the possibility of some late-game heroics, the team that wins the time of possession will probably win the game. If Texas is controlling the clock, that means they are probably running the ball, and McCoy and Snead are just along for the ride as the Texas O-line clears room for Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young to run. If OSU's winning the time of possession battle, it means that the game is going to be put in the hands of a freshman QB for Texas. In that case, you have to like the Buckeyes' chances. I hope Ohio State can win in impressive fashion, but I will be more than happy with any sort of win. In an effort to avoid cosmic payback, I decline to pick a winner, but a score of 27-21 sounds right to me.