COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Both No. 2 Texas and No. 4 Ohio State want to be at the top at the end of the season. For one of them, that dream could be gone after the second game.

“You don’t want to say that a national championship is at stake so early in the season but, yeah,” said linebacker Anthony Schlegel, born in Texas, but a Buckeye these days. “And it definitely means a lot to both teams so far as where they go for the rest of the season.”

When the teams meet for the first time tonight, a crowd of more than 104,000 will be on hand at Ohio Stadium as well as a prime-time television audience.

“The whole country will be watching,” Texas offensive lineman Will Allen said.

Texas (1-0) has its annual Red River Shootout with Oklahoma, and Ohio State (1-0) its yearly clash with Michigan. Compared to those, players from both sides say this is a typical game.

“We see it as just any other game,” Longhorns defensive end Tim Crowder said. “They are just another team trying to get in our way of getting to the promised land.”

Still, the sea of fans, the bright lights and what’s at stake all seem to go against this as just a typical game.

Texas coach Mack Brown said his team will savor the moment.

“Our guys like going into those kinds of arenas,” he said. “How many kids get to play in front of 100,000 people that all want you to get beat? It is kind of a fun thing to compete in that environment. It sends a message about your toughness, your confidence and your togetherness.”

Whether he believes it, or if it’s just gamesmanship, Brown also said that most of the pressure is on Ohio State.

“Sometimes when you are playing at home, it puts more pressure on the kids,” Brown said. “When they lose on the road it’s huge, but when they lose at home it’s bigger. When you’ve got that many people cheering for you, there is a certain amount of pressure not to let them down.”

Texas, chasing its first national championship in 35 years, is led by quarterback Vince Young. Considered one of the top challengers to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart of USC, Young rushed for 1,079 yards and passed for 1,849 more a year ago as the Longhorns went 11-1 and ended up No. 5 in the nation.

The Longhorns return most of their skill-position players on offense and nine starters on defense from a team that beat Michigan in last year’s Rose Bowl – and beating Michigan is something that definitely got the Buckeyes’ attention.

“That’s what a top-5 team should look like,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said.

Young is good friends with his Buckeyes counterpart, Troy Smith.

Smith called Young after Texas’ 60-3 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday.

“Congratulations, first and foremost,” Smith said he told Young. “And just be ready when you come up this way.”

Ohio State will try to shut down the Texas running game and force the Longhorns to rely on Young’s passing.

“The thing with Texas is they have so many weapons, but I really think the speed of our defense will help us,” Schlegel said.

Smith, coming off an NCAA-mandated two-game suspension, will share time with Justin Zwick at quarterback. The Buckeyes also have nine holdovers on defense and most of their key players back on offense.

A lot of the Longhorns’ attention will be drawn to Ohio State kick-returner and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. The sophomore sprinter caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in last week’s 34-14 win over Miami (Ohio).

“This is a player’s dream to be in a big-time game like this,” Ginn said. “To go out at night at 8 o’clock, the only game on TV, and it goes all over the world – sure, it’s a dream.”

Texas running back Selvin Young said while he was being recruited he told Brown that he was thinking of signing with Ohio State.

“Coach Brown came back five minutes later and said a snowstorm came in and it shut their whole school down,” Young said with a wide grin. “I said to myself that’s way too cold, I’m not going there.”


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