Steve Helwagen of Bucknuts.com, ESPN’s Ohio State affiliate, takes a look back at the two past Ohio State-Texas match-ups, including the Longhorns’ win in Columbus in 2005 and OSU’s win at Austin in 2006.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will serve as the rubber match in the series between Ohio State and Texas, the nation’s two largest football playing universities.
The two teams met for the first time ever in 2005 with Texas winning in Columbus. A year later, Ohio State returned the favor in 2006 with a win in Austin. Here is a look at these two previous match-ups with the game day rankings for each team in parentheses:
* Sept. 10, 2005, at Columbus: Texas (2) 25, Ohio State (4) 22 – Texas QB Vince Young completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards and two TDs and also rushed 20 times for 76 yards. Young’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed with 2:37 left helped lead the Longhorns to a win that was an integral part in UT’s 13-0 national championship season. Young’s TD pass capped a 67-yard scoring march.
Young’s top receiver was Billy Pittman, who had five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.
Texas coach Mack Brown came into the game still fighting the reputation that he could not win the big game. That changed on this balmy night in Columbus.
“I don’t think you ever silence critics anymore,” he said. “Critics are critics because they’re called critics and that’s what they’re paid for. We have to go back and beat Rice next week and there will be critics in the morning. What you do learn at Ohio State and Texas is you do your best and understand there will be critics and you’re not perfect and you make mistakes, we’ve made them tonight and I’ll always make them and I’m not worried about that anymore.”
Ohio State jockeyed QBs Justin Zwick and Troy Smith throughout the game with the Buckeyes settling for five Josh Huston field goals.
Smith ended up 5 of 11 passing for 78 yards and one touchdown, a 36-yarder to Santonio Holmes. He also carried 13 times for 27 yards. Zwick was 9 of 15 passing for 66 yards.
OSU coach Jim Tressel talked about the rationale behind the rotation.
“I suppose like anything, when they work, it was a good idea, and when they didn’t work, it wasn’t,” he said.
Ohio State came up with three turnovers in Texas territory, but the Buckeyes could only manage three field goals as a ton of miscues and breaks went against the Buckeyes. Those included a dropped touchdown pass by Ryan Hamby, a late hit penalty by Chad Hoobler to set up a Texas field goal before the half and a Huston missed field goal that would have given the Buckeyes a late nine-point lead.
Texas became the first visiting team to defeat Ohio State in a night game at Ohio Stadium in seven tries. This was also the first meeting ever between these two tradition rich schools.
“I think you have to start with the fact that our kids played their hearts out and played hard and fought hard and played against a very tough football team in Texas,” Tressel said. “Tip the cap, their kids played extremely hard. It was a well-fought football game. It was disappointing that we had many opportunities and didn’t cash in on enough to win.
“We’ve got great seniors and excellent leaders like the ones sitting here and we’re going to have a good football team, but obviously we have to be much more consistent than we were this evening.”
Texas capped its national title run with a Rose Bowl win over USC. OSU ended up 10-2 after a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
* Sept. 9, 2006, at Austin: Ohio State (1) 24, Texas (2) 7 – Smith and the Buckeyes redeemed themselves with a resounding road win at Texas. Smith completed 17 of 26 passes for 269 yards with two TD passes. He hit Anthony Gonzalez with a 14-yard TD pass to open the scoring. Then, he found Ted Ginn Jr. for a 29-yarder with 16 seconds left in the first half for a 14-7 halftime lead.
TB Antonio Pittman added 74 yards on 16 carries with a 2-yard TD run that iced it with 6:31 left. Gonzalez (eight catches, 142 yards) and Ginn (five catches, 97 yards) each came up big. Defensively, LB James Laurinaitis had an interception to set up a touchdown and a fumble forced that probably denied UT a touchdown. The win snapped Texas’ nation-best 21-game winning streak. It was the first regular season match-up of No. 1 and No. 2 in nearly 10 years.
“Our guys played hard,” Tressel said. “They came into a tough environment and just kept slugging away. Our defense caused some turnovers. Whenever you hold someone to seven points in their stadium, that’s incredible.
“All in all, when you add in our special teams, which I think were great, our defensive was relentless and our offense didn’t make many mistakes.”
Smith, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy that season, tipped his cap to Texas.
“I can’t say enough about the University of Texas,” said Smith, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone as the Buckeyes grabbed a 14-7 advantage. “It was a hard fought game all four quarters. We just tried to execute our game plan to our maximum ability. Offensively and defensively, I think we did a great job.”
OSU punter A.J. Trapasso ended up averaging 50.8 yards on six punts.
“Ohio State is a great football team,” UT’s Brown said. “They deserve to be number one. Troy Smith made play after play and Ted Ginn is as advertised. There were two differences in the game. One was their ability to make plays at the end of drives and our inability to make plays at the end of drives.
“The other was their ability to punt deep. Their punter was tremendous. He was averaging over 50 yards a punt and forced us to start deep.”
Texas QB Colt McCoy, then a redshirt freshman making his second career start, was 19 of 32 passing for 154 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
OSU ended up 12-1 after a national title game loss to Florida, while Texas finished up 10-3 after an Alamo Bowl win over Iowa.