Ohio State Football

OSU/Texas Preview

09.07.06 | Comment?

There’s already been much ink spilled on this topic, so I’ll attempt to keep this crisp. Saturday, Sept 9th, the #1 Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Austin, Texas to battle the #2 University of Texas Longhorns in an epic early season matchup with national championship implications. It’s strength against strength with the OSU offense and the UT defense returning most everyone from last year. And weakness against weakness with the OSU defense losing 9 starters and the UT offense losing all everything QB Vince Young and two outstanding offensive linemen. The name of the game is big, the two largest schools by enrollment, the two largest athletic department budgets, and one of the larger stadiums (with the biggest TV in the land.)

What did we learn last week? First North Texas vs. Texas (final score: 56-7 Longhorns.)

  • Offense
    • Colt McCoy turned in a workman like performance (12/19-177 3TDs 0Ints) against a weak defense. He is surprisingly composed for a R-FR and was able to command the offense to a big win. His decision making was sound, but there were a few instances that could be different against a defense with a pulse. Backup Qb, Jevan Snead (FR) isn’t ready for primetime, so McCoy better stay on his feet.
    • No sacks, the O-Line did a great job in pass protection though the run game was less effective than I would have predicted.
    • Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young combined for 121 yards rushing, which I thought was a bit anemic against UNT. Though there wasn’t any need to do much more than was accomplished.
    • Quan Crosby and Limas Sweed are stud receivers, both had very productive days against the Mean Green.
    • Overall, UT’s offense was very efficient and looked good in this first game of the season.
  • Defense
    • The D-Line was ferocious accumulating 4 sacks, filling gaps, and leading the way to limiting the rushing game of UNT to 8 total yards.
    • The linebackers played a solid game in run support and looked quick to the ball in passing and running situations. Not a slow mover among them.
    • The secondary played a virtually flawless game limiting UNT to 88 total yards and played very fast, very efficiently.
    • Special teams, punting, kickoffs, and returns looked solid to go along with some excellent pursuit and block attempts.

What did we learn last week? OSU vs. NIU (final score: 35-12 Buckeyes.)

  • Offense
    • The first 15:09 was awesome. If there is a better offense in college football, I haven’t seen it. 28-0 was the score at this point and the coaches decided to turn the duration of the game into a learning scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
    • QB: Troy Smith was razor sharp (18/25-298 3TDs 0Ints.) Troy better not get injured because the same cannot be said of Justin Zwick.
    • RBs: Pittman and Chris Wells combined for 162 yards and 2 TDs. Maurice Wells looked good; he finally got the ball in space where he excels.
    • Receivers: Awesome. Any of the top 4, Ginn, Gonzalez, Hartline, and Robiskie can take it to the house. Routes were sharp and fast, they were catching everything.
    • O-Line: 490 net yards of offense, no sacks, power running game working. What more needs to be said? Despite losing Sims and Mangold, this unit has gelled early and is a good one.
    • Mistakes: Losing 2 fumbles inside the opponents 5 yard line is inexcusable.
  • Defense
    • D-Line: Deep, fast, and nasty. These fellows are the backbone of this year’s Silver Bullets. 4 sacks, multiple tackles for loss, in the backfield all day long. But, 2nd quarter on, the NIU running game was working (more on that later.)
    • Linebackers: After losing Hawk, Schlegle, and Carpenter to the NFL, there will predictably be a dropoff. It’s not so much in talent, but in experience. This shows in “thinking” – OSU’s linebackers are thinking alot which is slowing them down. An average performance at best, though they will improve. I was very worried in seeing them get caught up in blocks and suckered on screen plays.
    • Secondary: Everything said about linebackers above is true of the secondary as well, they looked slow to the ball and not as physical as we’re accustomed to seeing from OSU defenses.
    • Special teams: Kickoffs, punts, and returns went well as expected. Field goals were not good going 0-2 attempts.
    • Overall comments: When the game was on the line in Q1 (i.e., pre-scrimmage) the defense forced 3 consecutive 3 and outs. Even when players were being mixed and matched, they still held NIU to 12 points and 1-13 on 3rd down conversions. However, surrendering over 300 yards of offense to Garrett Wolfe isn’t a good omen for Texas who has at least 4 deadly offensive weapons.

The missing link in all of this is the intangibles. The game is being played in Austin, so the home team gets fan advantage during the game, but distraction coming up to it (events, “can you get me tickets?” etc.) Off the field issues, 2 Texas players arrested and suspended from the defense will present some dropoff in talent in addition to the distraction. Revenge, don’t think for a minute OSU forgets the 25-22 loss to Texas in Columbus last year – they believe they should have won and but for the heroics of Vince Young, would have won. Curse of the away, night game; 1-4, that’s OSU’s record in night games played away from Ohio Stadium in the Tressel-era. Not good.

What to take away from all this? It looks like a pretty even game to me on paper. I’ve seen 100 different predictions with 60% picking Texas to win narrowly. The money slightly favors Texas; OSU is a 2 point underdog. What do I think happens? Texas will score some points on this young OSU defense. But I think OSU scores more in a shootout. OSU wins 35-31.

Meatspace coordinates: N37.32.4 W122.30.9
Ohio State’s 2006 record: 1-0 Next up: Texas 9/9 5pm PST, OSU 2 point underdog
Tune: King of the Road by Roger Miller

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