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Looking Ahead to Ohio State

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I wonder if whoever is writing the content directives at ESPN is an Aggie, or Sooner, or something, because Texas just keeps getting jobbed. (Before we go on and lest you think this is just another Angry-At-ESPN-Longhorn comment, let me point out that it doesn't really matter. As defending national champs, if we win our games, we'll be there in the end. Period.) Most recently, Pat Forde slotted the Horns in at #11 on his pre-pre-preseason rankings for next year. Ohio State, meanwhile, is #2. Again, aside from the fact that this doesn't really matter, this is a blog and damnit, this why we're here. To talk about this junk. `Cause we care. And ESPN sucks. Rarr!

Well, appropriately, I'm A Realist just posted a great preview of the 2006 Buckeyes and his analysis is right in line with what I've been saying for a couple weeks now.

Commenting on the massive losses the Buckeyes took this offseason on defense, Realist writes:

They are returning only 27% of their starters (I know, it's just 3 of 11, but still). The departing starters accounted for 62% of the tackles, 70% of the tackles for loss, and 73% of the sacks for 2005. They must replace the entire linebacking corps, three-fourths of their secondary, and half of their front four in 2006. Are there plenty of worthy talents waiting in the wings to become the next A.J. Hawk or Bobby Carpenter or Ashton Youboty? Sure. But here is where the schedule could be a factor.

As we're all aware, part of that schedule is a game against our Longhorns. In Austin. Where we return 7 of 11 our starters on both sides of the ball. On defense, the only questions are in the secondary, but there's plenty of experience and talent filling in there. The D-Line is loaded and the linebackers are going to be, in my opinion, even better next year than they were this year. I'm getting to the point where I think Sergio Kindle might eat Troy Smith before the game even starts.

On offense, the elephant in the room is the replacement of Vincent Paul Young, Jr. He was pretty good at football and was reasons 1-467 why we beat USC for the title. But for those of us who followed the Horns all year (read: not ESPN employees), we realize that the offense was, in fact, not quite the One Man Show that people made it out to be. Was Vince why we were #1? Yes. But, pertinent to this discussion, is this still a Top 10 team without Vince? Also yes.

For all the improvement Troy Smith showed in his development last year, it's going to be awfully tough for the Buckeyes to win in Austin in September. With all of the newcomers they'll be starting on defense, Texas isn't going to need a 300 yard passing day to win. They'll need solid defense (check) and lots of running yards (check). Despite what we're losing in Vince, we're awfully talented on offense with the return of Jamaal Charles, Ramonce Taylor, Selvin Young, Billy Pittman, Limas Sweed, and the like. So much so that if either Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead turns out to be even passable in their September form, Ohio State's not going to beat us. Frankly, I hope we're underdogs. It would be my 10 Star Lock Of The Year.

--PB--