No. 2 Texas 25, No. 4 Ohio State 22
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Vince Young did what star quarterbacks do, passing his team to a victory, and making the Texas Longhorns look as if this could be the season they come up big in the biggest of games.
Best known for his highlight-reel runs, Young threw a 24-yard go-ahead touchdown to Limas Sweed with 2:37 left and No. 2 Texas defeated No. 4 Ohio State 25-22 Saturday night in the much-anticipated first meeting between two of college football’s most storied programs.
While it’s a long way to the Rose Bowl, Texas validated itself as a prime contender to Southern California’s crown. Ohio State, meanwhile, will have to win out to even have a shot at a national title.
Young’s floating TD pass over a defender capped a 67-yard drive that started with 5 minutes left after Josh Huston, who made school-record five field goals, missed a 50-yarder.
The biggest plays came on Young’s passes, including a third-and-6 completion of 9 yards to Jamaal Charles. Young’s second TD pass of the game made the score 23-22.
“Sweed came off the ball real good and I threw the ball to the outside so he could go out of bounds or make the great play and Sweed made a great play for us,” said Young, who threw for 270 yards.
The Longhorns’ ‘D,’ which time and time again held firm after turnovers and special teams gave Ohio State good field position, had the biggest takeaway of the game when Drew Kelson stripped a scrambling Justin Zwick and Brian Robison recovered and returned it inside the 20.
Ohio State (1-1) held the Longhorns (2-0) out of the end zone, but Larry Dibbles sacked Troy Smith for a safety and Texas coach Mack Brown had his second straight huge victory over a Big Ten team.
The Longhorns defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl, when Young launched his 2005 Heisman Trophy campaign with 192 yards rushing.
Young proved against the Buckeyes he can pass it when he needs to as well.
“Obviously he’s a great runner,” Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “Tonight he showed us he’s a great passer.”
One Ohio State player had said the Buckeyes’ goal was to put an end to Young’s Heisman campaign. And while Bobby Carpenter and Ohio State’s swift linebacking crew hemmed in Young after some good runs early, they couldn’t stop his passing.
“When you have to play extra people in the box to stop his run it’s going to leave you a bit vulnerable to the pass,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “I thought he played hard. He kept getting hit and beat up and kept coming back. And his team won.”
Young also had made a couple of those poor decisions and bad throws—he was intercepted twice—that have caused him to be labeled a tailback playing quarterback.
But he finished 18-for-29 and ran 20 times for 76 yards.
Tressel was true to his promise, playing both Zwick and Smith at quarterback. Neither distinguished himself, and it looks like the quarterback competition will resume for the Buckeyes.
Smith ran for 27 yards, threw a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes and led Ohio State on five scoring drives.
Zwick was 9-for-15 for 66 yards and led Ohio State to one field goal.
Ohio State came up with three turnovers in Texas territory, but the Buckeyes could only manage three field goals against defensive end Tim Crowder and Co.
And when Ted Ginn Jr.’s 46-yard kickoff return got the Buckeyes to around midfield in the third quarter, they again drove inside the 20, only to stall when Ryan Hamby let a sure TD pass pop off his chest.
Huston knocked his final field goal of the game through to tie a record last accomplished by Mike Nugent, the All-American he replaced this season, and give Ohio State a 22-16 lead with 5:12 left in the third.
“I was walking down the sidelines telling the guys, ‘We’ve been though this (before) play by play,”’ Young said. “The defense is going to give us the ball and they did a great job.”
Ginn, Ohio State’s big play specialist, was only a factor on special teams. He caught two passes for nine yards.
For Brown, the ballyhooed matchup was another opportunity to try to prove to critics that he can, indeed, win the big games.
It’s a reputation mostly built on five straight losses to rival Oklahoma and no Big 12 titles, despite winning at least 10 games the past four seasons.
Brown took a step toward shedding that tag by beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl and another big one Saturday night.
“I don’t think you ever silence critics,” Brown said.“They’ll be critics in the morning, that’s part of the deal.”
Tressel dropped to 6-2 against opponents ranked in the top 10.
“Our goal was to win the national championship that’s remote now,” Buckeyes guard Rob Sims said.
Zwick got the start over Smith, who was returning from an NCAA suspension, and played the first two series as Texas built a 10-0 lead.
Smith, who’s kind of a Vince Young-lite, gave the Buckeyes a lift with his running, and tossed a 36-yard TD pass to Holmes that tied the game at 10.
Hawk then came up with an interception and fumble recovery on consecutive series to give Ohio State the ball deep in Texas territory.
Both times the Longhorns stiffened and made the Buckeyes settle for field goals of 37 and 25 yards by Huston.
Texas got a 37-yard field goal from David Pino with 2 seconds left in the first half to make it 16-13.
The most-anticipated nonconference game played in Ohio Stadium in at least a decade—and maybe ever—started with flash bulbs popping and the Horseshoe-record crowd of 105,565 in a frenzy.
The raucous atmosphere left the Longhorns, who have won 22 of 23 on the road, unfazed. They calmly scored on their first two drives with Young running and passing like a pro.
The 230-pounder swept around left end for 32 yards to help set up a 42-yard field goal by Pino.
Young was 4-for-4 for 57 yards on Texas’ next drive, including a 5-yard strike to a slanting Billy Pittman for a touchdown.