professional for me. It’s like the difference between a passionate street performer, juggling knives down in the West End, and clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus….the performers of the latter are all really talented people, but it always feels a little too…dare I say….scripted?I mean, be honest, in most years the day the pro season starts, you can name the five to ten teams that will compete at the end of the year. And, sure enough, you’ll be right on three to seven of your picks by years end. But in college ball? Most years
anything can happen. Most years, anything does. Most years there’s a big game way before the playoffs start.In fact, Dale Hansen argues (and I can’t believe I’m quoting Hansen here…) that in college ball every week is a playoff week. That’s really true. Every week, for the true fan, there’s a make-or-break game on somewhere. Every week, there’s a bitter rival playing a bitter rival. Every week, a team everyone thinks is incredibly and should go all the way may get knocked off and have it all come crashing down around them.
It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always been a
UT fan, and it doesn’t hurt that they are one of the marque programs in the country and defending national champions. Yes, my usual yearly excitement is a little higher than usual. But, even if they weren’t contending this year, there’s just something about college ball and how emotional, passionate, and unpredictable it is. It feels more honest and real than pro ball.Having said that, I am looking forward to tonight’s game between Ohio State and Texas. As I just mentioned, every week there’s a big game. And this week, there’s no game bigger than this. Tragically, one of these two great teams will find its run for the national championship seriously wounded at the end of the night. That’s really a shame this early in the year.
On the other hand, it’s often easier to get back in hunt later in the year, if you lose early…so, we’ll see.
Lot’s of folks are picking Ohio State for this one. They’re pointing to the fact that last year, time after time, it was Vince Young who bailed out the Longhorns. Can’t argue with that.
I’ve waxed about Young so often that you all know I believed that was true last year. I think the reason a UT National Championship surprised so many folks was that they underestimated the incredible talent of Vince Young.But, we should realize that Texas is an incredibly talented team even without him. I think Colt McCoy should do OK this year. We’ll know a lot more after tonight on that. But the rest of the team is so quick, so strong, and so talented. And Vince’s superhero talents sometimes overshadowed that fact.
So, with trepidation, here are my keys to the game:
Home Field: Advantage UT…and in college ball, this is a huge advantage…
Quarterback: Advantage OSU…and one of the things folks are predicting about this game is that Troy Smith shows us what a big star he is…we’ll see.
Offense: Tie: they are both explosive.
Defense: Advantage UT….look at last week…a weak opponent didn’t score much against OSU, but they ran up lots of yards. UT’s defense crushed North Texas. People keep talking about how Young’s loss hurts Texas, but they fail to admit how many losses OSU has had on defense. They could step up tonight, so I don’t want to overstate this…but it would not surprise me for them to be weaker than folks think.
Overall depth: Advantage UT…do not underestimate this…
Secret Weapons: Advantage UT….OSU has one great reciever in Ginn. UT has four outstanding ones. But, I’m going to keep saying this name, as I did just after the last national championship game: watch out for Jamaal Charles. The dude slices through defenders just like VY did. If he has a break out game tonight, folks may forget all about VY. (assuming he has a break out game and doesn’t drop the ball…)The point of all this is that I can’t say for certain Texas will win. But I don’t expect Texas to get crushed, and will not be as surprised as others if we pull of the win, for all the reasons I’ve listed above.
One thing’s for certain: I am still so pumped about last year that I really don’t think I’ll be crushed if UT loses. If we lose to OU…well, that’s another story. But nobody can take last year away from us. And writers are still talking about how great it was.Even if we lose tonight, we’re still the national champs…