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A chance for redemption



Published: Mon, September 4, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



COLUMBUS (AP) -- No motivational speeches are needed for Ohio State's game against Texas on Saturday night.

One year certainly hasn't erased all recollections of the last meeting.

"We remember last year," defensive lineman David Patterson said grimly.

No. 1 Ohio State dispatched Northern Illinois 35-12 on Saturday, building a 28-0 lead in just over a quarter and coasting to the finish.

That was enough to allow the Buckeyes to finally acknowledge that they have the No. 3 Longhorns on their minds.

"We've got to win," center Doug Datish said. "It's going to be a great atmosphere."

Last year remembered

A year ago, the second-ranked Longhorns met the fourth-ranked Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium, also in week two of the season. Before a loud and raucous Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 105,565, Texas quarterback Vince Young threw a 24-yard go-ahead touchdown to Limas Sweed with 2:37 left in a 25-22 victory.

"A lot of us remember that feeling," said Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The Longhorns kept up the drumbeat of wins, beating Southern California in the Rose Bowl to capture their first national championship since 1969. The Buckeyes have spent the last 360-plus days thinking how their own 10-2 season might have taken a similar route had they been able to beat the Longhorns.

Texas whipped North Texas 56-7 on Saturday to set the stage for another showdown. The Buckeyes say they can't wait.

Smith is ready

"It's going to be a great experience," said quarterback Troy Smith, who completed 18-of-25 passes for 297 yards and touchdowns of 5 and 58 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. and 15 yards to Anthony Gonzalez in the victory over Northern Illinois. "They got out of here last year with a win. It's a great team with great tradition. I just wish Vince was still there."

Antonio Pittman, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, said he welcomed the chance to finally get around to the rematch.

"This is something we have waited for a year. Now we need to go to their house and take one back," Pittman said.

The Buckeyes built a 28-0 lead and then squandered several prime scoring opportunities against Northern Illinois. They missed two field goals and lost two fumbles inside the opposing 10-yard line.

"We'll have to step it up a lot, we learned today," Pittman said Saturday.

Ginn caught four passes for 123 yards and the two touchdowns, adding two punt returns for 44 yards and two kickoff returns for 25 more yards.

He said it hurt to watch Texas go on to win the national championship last year, boosted by the landmark win in Columbus.

"We lost last year and that says it all," he said. "Next week, just like last year -- what a great game it should be."

Opener left questions

An opener provides a chance to gauge a team's progress while determining what problem areas require the most additional work. In that regard, the victory over Northern Illinois was an unqualified success. The Buckeyes have lots of work to do on their kicking game and run defense.

At the same time, the Buckeyes recognize that the first game won't necessarily prepare them for what they'll encounter on Saturday night.

"We took a step -- now, the next step is higher, we understand that -- but we took a step," coach Jim Tressel said.

Last year's loss provides all the incentive the Buckeyes need.

"Hey, they're the national champs," defensive lineman Vernon Gholston said. "They're sitting on top of the world."




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