By Bomani Jones
Special to Page 2

Allow this Texan to offer a public service announcement to those who weren't fortunate enough to be raised in the Lone Star State -- spend Friday night praying that top-ranked Ohio State beats No. 2 Texas Saturday night.

Texas fans
Harry Cabluck/AP Photo
Texas fans will be out in force for the battle against the Buckeyes Saturday night.

Why? Because if the Longhorns win what might be the most anticipated regular season college football game since Notre Dame beat Florida State in '93, the state will further establish its rightful place on top of the football world.

(Oh yeah, I'm not concerned with the mercenary world of pro football in this discussion. Drew Bledsoe and David Carr are as Texan as I am Martian.)

Texans are already getting pretty bad. The newest college football all-star game, debuting at the end of this season, is called Texas vs. The Nation -- a showcase that will pit college seniors from Texas against those from the rest of the country. What other state would be so cocky as to take on the rest of the country, even in an exhibition?

And in the greatest display of gluttony outside of the local Golden Corral, UT installed a new scoreboard at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium that doubles as the world's largest HDTV. Conceived after Texas officials saw the 30-by-107 foot scoreboard at rival Arkansas' Razorback Stadium, the 55-by-134 "Godzillatron" is only 11 yards narrower than the playing field.

The screen shows what Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds means when he says, "We are the Joneses."

Though Dodds is concerned only about all things burnt orange, that line doesn't just apply to UT's facilities, or the school itself. We, the people of Texas, are the Joneses when it comes to football. We've got the national champ, the most talented team in the country (UT, again), the best student section in America (Texas A&M) and even the best mid-major program (TCU).

Folks in other states -- particularly Florida -- might not like hearing that, but only the delusional would deny the Lone Star State its glory. After years of watching Texas' most talented players attend college elsewhere, the 'Horns brought the state its first national title in 35 years last season, and they managed to do it without Eric Dickerson or a slush fund (as far as we know, at least). Texas' fertile talent supply, rivaled only by Florida's and California's, played huge roles in national championships for Oklahoma ('85, 2000), Miami ('87, '91, '92) and Colorado ('90). There's enough talent in the state to build four or five Top 25 teams every year.

Mack Brown
Harry Cabluck/AP Photo
Mack Brown won't soon be forgotten for leading the Longhorns to that national title.

So how did the state get so good? Texas' success in football isn't just because it's a warm-weather state, nor is it entirely about the resources its high schools are willing to invest in the sport. The success is born from Texans' passion about football -- the way the sport courses through our veins and the Red, Brazos and Sabine rivers. Football is to Texas what jazz is to New Orleans. The only difference is that New Orleans created jazz; Texas, since it does football so well, just acts as though it created the sport.

Why are Texans so passionate about football? Because the game fits perfectly with Texas' calling card -- bombast.

Chances are you've heard a few things about Texans. Perhaps someone has told you we are arrogant and believe that everything within our borders is bigger and better. Someone might have told you that we're insular and unconcerned with what goes on outside of our planetary state. And I'm positive you've heard that lots of us carry guns and are rather comfortable with the idea of putting a hole in someone's chest.

We're guilty on all counts, and we don't apologize for it.

Generally, I can see why outsiders see these as bad things. No one likes a loud, self-centered blowhard. That sort of people gets on our nerves, too -- but only if they're from out of state (and especially if they live in one of those lesser, Northern states).

But during football season, those are positive character traits.

Humility has no place on a football field. The only emotion one should have for an opponent is contempt; after all, football players spend three hours knocking the spit out of each other. I suppose there's no place for guns on the field, but that dude in "The Last Boy Scout" put a pistol to good use 15 years ago.

This game is ours, and we've finally taken it back.

UT's success proves that. The roster is loaded with in-state talent, players who probably would have left home for college 10 years ago. More important, though, was the way UT won last season. After spending the previous 20 years getting smacked around in big games -- especially against Oklahoma during 2001-2004 -- Texas dominated the line of scrimmage all season. UT finished second in the nation in rushing, and was formidable against the run. The Longhorns kicked ass, took names, and dared anyone to complain.

Colt McCoy
Harry Cabluck/AP Photo
Colt McCoy has big shoes to fill, replacing Vince Young. But you've gotta love his name.

That was a cocksure group. Much of that came from Vince Young, but it wasn't all him. Vince wasn't flooring the down linemen and linebackers. It was safety Michael Griffin, not Young, who saved last year's Ohio State game by jarring the ball from an Ohio State receiver in the end zone. It was Texas' defensive line, not Young, that pushed USC's offensive line into the backfield to allow Michael Huff to stop LenDale White on that fateful fourth down in last year's Rose Bowl.

It was the characteristically Texan refusal to be pushed around that won those games. The team might have gotten that from Young, but Young could only have gotten it from one place -- Texas.

Remember all of this before predicting who will win the game on Saturday night. It's easy to understand why the pundits are enamored with Jim Tressel's track record and Ohio State's stacked offense, highlighted by Ted Ginn Jr.'s PlayStation moves and the possibility that Troy Smith could be this year's Vince Young.

But the Buckeyes aren't going up against just the 11 guys on the field. OSU's going against those guys, the state that raised them and the attitude "problem" they picked up along the way. Losing cornerback Tarell Brown, who was suspended after being arrested for possession of marijuana and a firearm, won't change that.

If Ohio State overcomes that, pencil it in for the BCS Championship. It'll take a helluva team to beat Texas at its own game.

But if the Buckeyes don't, get ready to hear it from a bunch of loud people who aren't as happy to see you as the bulge in their trousers might indicate.

Consider yourself warned.

Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at readers@bomanijones.com.




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