Both Texas and Ohio State have been looking forward to facing each other for quite some time.
The much-anticipated matchup between two of the nation’s top teams takes place Saturday night when the No. 2 Longhorns visit the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
Texas and Ohio State each opened their seasons last week with relatively easy wins, and the talk after those victories immediately shifted to this weekend’s game.
The Longhorns were still riding the wave of confidence created by last season’s Rose Bowl win over Michigan when they dispatched Louisiana-Lafayette 60-3 last Saturday. After the game, Texas said a victory in Columbus could make it a favorite to play for the national championship.
“This has the chance to be as big as the Rose Bowl,” Longhorns defensive end Brian Robison said. “This could determine the fate of our season. There’s not too many chances in a life to play in a game like this.”
Texas quarterback Vince Young passed for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Jamaal Charles set a freshman debut record with 135 yards rushing against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Soon after Ohio State beat Miami of Ohio 34-14 in its opener, linebacker Bobby Carpenter said, “Our goal is when Vince Young leaves here, he won’t be a candidate for the Heisman.”
Asked about that comment, Young said, “Let ‘em talk. I know if they focus on me, it’s going to open up some opportunities for other players. When the game time comes, let’s see what they’re saying then.”
Even the coaches are talking up what promises to be a special meeting of two powerhouse programs playing each other for the first time.
“It will be a fun game for college football,” Texas’ Mack Brown said. “The buildup started in early spring.”
Ohio State’s Jim Tressel admitted letting his mind drift ahead while the Buckeyes were playing Miami of Ohio.
“Probably in the middle of the fourth quarter—I’m not going to lie,” Tressel said. “You know, we’re anxious to be a part of a matchup like that. Shoot, we can’t wait. I’m sure they’re the same.”
Justin Zwick completed 17-of-23 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, tailback Antonio Pittman gained 100 yards on 14 carries and Ted Ginn Jr. caught a 42-yard touchdown pass to lead the Buckeyes last weekend.
Zwick got the start because Troy Smith was serving the second game of a two-game suspension for accepting $500 from a team booster. Smith led the Buckeyes to wins in four of their last five regular-season games in 2004 after Zwick and the offense had sputtered during an 0-3 start in Big Ten play.
“Justin was very efficient, even though he had the one play that we all wish he had back,” Tressel said of the interception Zwick threw. “Outside of that play I thought he was very efficient.”
Smith will be available for this game, though it’s not known if he or Zwick will get the start.
Texas linebacker Aaron Harris didn’t seem to care much about who the Buckeyes start.
“We’re going to have a good time stopping them,” Harris said.
Ohio State has never lost a night game in Columbus and hasn’t lost a nonconference game at home since 1990. Texas has won 21 of its last 22 games on the opponent’s home field.
“We’ve played well on the road,” Young said. “Everybody accepts the challenge. I love it. We could go down there and make history.”