Longhorns vs. Buckeyes – Pride and College Football

September 5, 2006 – I want to preface this article by saying that I lived in Austin, Texas for 6 years before going off to college, and so I am a big fan of the Texas Longhorns football program. I also want to preface the rest of this article by saying that I had a teammate in college who was from Ohio and was a big Ohio State University fan. My first year in college, was in 2002-2003. Yes, that’s right. The year Ohio State won the College Football National Championship. I had to hear it from my teammate forever. It was unbearable. Over the next couple of years in college it fizzled down, but it was not until Ohio State was officially dethroned before I regain any sense of football dignity around him.

During those years of obscurity, I could only hang my hat on a few things. I protested that Texas played in a much tougher division, and had a more difficult schedule than Ohio State. Another thing on the side of my team was that Oklahoma University went to the next two National Championships, which meant that Texas was consistently playing a top 2 team in the middle of the season. However, when Texas lost to Oklahoma for the like the 5 millionth time in a row, I blamed Texas’ faults on the lack of a good coach. Of course all of this reasoning and reckoning resulted in his common comeback.

My teammate, the OSU fan, often defended his team’s national championship by responding to all of my attacks with: “Who won a national championship?” And of course I couldn’t say anything to respond to that; so that’s pretty much all he said. My arguments for Texas began to stretch into which state had the better high school football program. I was use to having this argument with the Californians on the team, but with people from

Ohio? This argument of ours was getting ridiculous, and it was all because Texas couldn’t play Ohio State on the field.
And then there was last year, 2005, Week 2 of the College football season. Ohio State versus the University of Texas! Primetime television. In Columbus. The number 2 team versus the number 3 team. It was all going to be settled on the field, and after this game, there were going to be no more “ifs” and “maybes.”

I couldn’t believe that these two teams had scheduled each other when I first heard about it in the summer of ’05. Never before had two teams of such high-ranking scheduled each other voluntarily. It was obviously a move to sell tickets, guarantee a spot on television as the game of the week and possibly as the game of the regular season. This game was so important for college football because the two powerhouses were showing no fear of the other; a precedent that might encourage more powerhouse schools to schedule each other. Both teams were in contention for the national championship, and their hopes might come down to this one game.

Well, you know how the story went. My boys from Texas whoop that a**, and went on to win it all. AhhhâÂ?¦.but the memory of that game lives on. The contest still haunts them. Because the Buckeyes are coming to Austin, and it’s the first time in a decade that the #1 ranked team will go up against the #2 ranked team in the regular season.

I could talk about match-ups and coaching strategies, but that’s not what this game is about for me and thousands of Texans and Ohio fans alike. For us, this game was about pride. This was about how two powerhouses put all of the national championship posturing aside and decided to face a contender instead of a pretender during the regular season. This was about millions of Texans who want to see Ohio State go down, again. It was about the thousands of ex-Texas high school football players who want to see the people they raised or grew up with defeat the intruders from Ohio. Texans want to see the heart and soul ripped from a storied school who has stolen the accolades from their school in the years prior to UT winning it all. This game was about not being scared to have gone into Columbus last year, risking anything and everything, and coming out on top as the truly better team.

For the millions of people from Ohio, this is about seeing your homegrown talent go into Austin and avenge what happened to you last year. The game was about beating the team that stole your championship a year ago, and did by going through you and on your turf. This game was about making your claim in high school football superiority, and trying to demonstrate that your state has the better athletes and superior talent.

So when Texas and Ohio State squared off, you shouldn’t have looked at the scoreboard, the stat sheet, or even the Heisman hopefuls. But you should have looked at the winning side’s fans. Look at the sense of pride they gather from just one victory over another school. This game was not the National Championship, but for Ohio State and UT fans, it sure felt like it……so what if Ohio won!

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