Breaking it down: No. 1 Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech
Who: No. 1 Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech
When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Lane Stadium, Virginia Tech
Spread: Ohio State -14
Matchup to watch: Kendall Fuller vs. Michael Thomas
The Virginia Tech cornerback might be the best at his position in the country. How’s that for a first test as the new go-to receiver? Thomas will have to find ways to shake Fuller and help move the chains. Without the likes of Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson because of suspension, the Buckeyes can’t afford to have their best returning pass catcher be invisible. He was the only Buckeye to have multiple catches last year in the Virginia Tech loss, but that was without Fuller on him. The Hokies will do everything possible to try and make somebody else beat them.
Thing I’m excited to see: Who starts at quarterback…duh
The day has come. It isn’t just the day that Ohio State officially begins its title defense. It’s the day we finally find out who starts at quarterback. Will J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones get the first snap? And will the backup still see time? The only case against Barrett is the 9-for-29 mark he threw for last year against the Hokies. Is it even possible that Meyer would start Jones in Week 1 because of the matchup and make it a week-by-week thing? Who knows. Well, Meyer knows. The quarterbacks know, and soon enough we’ll all know. About time.
Number to remember: 8
That’s how many carries Ezekiel Elliott had against the Hokies last year. He should have that by the end of the first quarter this time around. Perhaps Meyer’s biggest mistake was putting too much pressure on Barrett, then a redshirt freshman, to win that game by himself. Barrett ran the ball 24 times without much success. You’d have to think that the nation’s best back will be given the rock early and often in this one. Curtis Samuel should get some looks and Braxton Miller might even get an end-around carry or two. But the Buckeyes will likely look to follow the same physical, punch-you-in-the-mouth mentality with Elliott that won them the national title.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Virginia Tech 20
The loss of Joey Bosa with the other three suspended players will hurt. But honestly, that’s the only thing that will keep this one from being a rout. I can’t fathom Meyer having all offseason to gameplan for Virginia Tech and come up short. I can’t fathom the OSU offensive line not imposing its will. I can’t fathom Joshua Perry and Darron Lee not teeing off on a turnover-happy quarterback. The Buckeyes weren’t ready for a team like Virginia Tech in Week 2 last year. Maybe they overlooked the Hokies. This year, revenge will be served. And Ohio State will begin its march to another national title.