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Saturday, September 10, 2005

'Horns 25, Buckeyes 22

Texas wide receiver Limas Sweed makes a touchdown catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter against Ohio State on Saturday (AP photo)With due and genuine respect to my blogospheric friend Hugh Hewitt — who's as loyal a Buckeye football fan as Ohio State University could ever want — and to the Buckeye players and staff, who played hard and well and again showed themselves to be an extremely classy institution ...

But how 'bout them Longhorns?!?

Wow, that was a fun football game to watch! And for an early season game, even between the No. 2- and 4-ranked teams, it was exceptionally well played overall by both teams. My quick post-game thoughts and TiVo-assisted armchair quarterbacking:

  1. Texas' overall talent may make the 'Horns a genuine challenger for the national title, but the 'Horns special teams have got to improve, dramatically and fast. That there were no missed extra points tonight was the minimum acceptable improvement from last week — one that could have been outcome-determinative in a close game like this one. It looks like David Pino has earned another start as the PAT and FG placekicker. But Ohio State enjoyed superb field position almost all night long, mostly due to kickoff and punt runbacks.

  2. Bless his heart, but it's time to drop Selvin Young off the first team. His durability is still suspect, and he's in a butter-fingered slump; and it may be a moot point if Young's injuries would sideline him anyway. But regardless, Jamaal Charles ought to be the starting running back next game.

  3. Texas' bend-but-rarely-break defense won this game. Ohio State will make lots of big plays this year against less talented, less quick defenses.  As brilliant as Vince Young often was, though, the defense's holding the Buckeyes to a school-record number of field goals, especially after Longhorn offensive miscues, was the difference tonight. And nobody realized it at the time, but the key play of the game turned out to be the deflected second-down pass with 5:45 left in the 4th quarter — completed, but for a four-yard loss from the Texas 29 to the Texas 33-yardline. It ended up being just enough to throw off-target, barely wide-right, OSU's final (and would-have-been clinching) long field goal attempt two plays later.

  4. The record Ohio State crowd — 105,565 — was impressive even by Texas standards, and the Buckeye fans deserve plaudits along with their team.

  5. But bigger plaudits to the Showband of the Southwest, the University of Texas Longhorn Band. There's of course no way in the world to overcome the kind of (legitimate) homefield advantage that Ohio State had tonight. But former Longhorn head coach Darryl K. Royal got it exactly right back in (if I recall correctly) about 1968, after a road loss before frenzied fans at Texas Tech, when he said that in a hostile stadium like that one, the Longhorn Band is worth seven points. That was one of the last times the team traveled to a big game without the Band, but I was sure glad the Band was in Columbus tonight — especially early in the second half. (My theory is that the LHB is most important just after a huge Longhorns screwup that would otherwise, in the face of the energy surge from a huge, hostile crowd, be overwhelmingly demoralizing. The sound of "Texas Fight" and those LHB drum cadences remind you of who you are, of where you're from, and of the days you've seen and will see again, back at DKR-Memorial Stadium, where the huge crowd is adoring.)


UPDATE (Sun Sep 11 @ 9:15am): John Bridges on one of the Austin American-Statesman's blogs reports  that

[a]fter all the brutality on the field tonight, the Ohio State band capped it all off with a classy move.

The stands were empty of Buckeye fans — only the celebrating Horn folks remained — when the Buckeye band launched into a version of "Texas Fight."

Nice way to honor the team that handed Ohio State its first home nonconference loss in 15 years and its first home night-game loss ever.

I agree, and I'm not surprised. OSU's band has always had a great national reputation among folks who follow such things; when I was in the Longhorn Band back from 1975-1980, we considered the Buckeye band to be among our national peers. My guess is that this was a more likely intended as a gesture of mutual respect and friendship to the Longhorn Band in particular as than as a tribute specifically to the Longhorn football team. But however it was intended, it was indeed classy. And unlike the spontaneous Rice band, the MOB, who might be bold enough to improvise a public performance without sheet music distributed in advance, it's very unlikely that the OSU band would undertake a gesture like this one if it had not been specifically planned and prepared for in advance (and they probably were planning to make it either "win or lose"). I hope OSU brings its band to DKR-Memorial Stadium when they complete the home-and-home series next year.

Posted by Beldar at 11:31 PM in Sports | Permalink


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(1) Ross Jurewitz made the following comment | Sep 15, 2005 3:02:50 PM | Permalink

This was a GREAT game!! Unfortunately, many OSU fans took advantage of the loss to acost, curse, spit at, and beat up visiting Horns fans. You can listen to some of the stories on fan sites like Buckeyeplanet.com and hornfans.com.

The abuse was so bad that the President of OSU wrote a letter to the Austin American-Statesman apologizing for the actions of some fans.

Next year, the Buckeyes will play Texas in Austin. I will be there (from California). Undoubtedly OSU fans will be treated better by Horn fans.

Hook 'em from a CA PI lawyer! Beat OU!

(2) Jonathan Sadow made the following comment | Sep 16, 2005 8:34:12 PM | Permalink

I wish Ohio State had treated The MOB as well as it appears to have treated the Longhorn Band. Rice played at OSU in 1993, and The MOB made inquiries as to travelling to the game. Several back-and-forth exchanges with the OSU administration established that The MOB could come to the game only if it paid for the seats being used and if no musical instruments were brought. Given those conditions, not surprisingly The MOB declined.

The MOB has performed at road games at Notre Dame and Michigan, among other schools in the Midwest, and it has been treated as well as any other visiting school's band. Never has it been treated as poorly as it was by Ohio State.

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