Week 2: Virginia Tech at Ohio State Preview

    Virginia Tech (1-0) at Ohio State (1-0) Sept. 6, 8:00, ESPN Here’s The Deal: This first-ever meeting between Virginia Tech and Ohio State—and Frank Beamer

    September 5, 2014

    Virginia Tech (1-0) at Ohio State (1-0) Sept. 6, 8:00, ESPN 

    Here’s The Deal: This first-ever meeting between Virginia Tech and Ohio State—and Frank Beamer and Urban Meyer—will warrant a primetime audience this Saturday night. 

    The Buckeyes return home after a sluggish performance in Baltimore versus Navy. Yeah, the top 5 program survived, but a close call with a service academy hardly stamps a team as a national—or even a Big Ten—heavyweight. This week marks the start of a key three-game homestand for Ohio State, which must elevate the players around rookie QB J.T. Barrett to approach pre-Braxton Miller injury expectations. 

    For Virginia Tech, a high-profile trip to Columbus means a chance to reenter the national dialogue. The Hokies, which beat William & Mary in the opener, have been way down by their usual standards in recent years. Knocking off Ohio State in its building, though, would immediately restore respect for Tech and its beleaguered head coach. 

    Why Virginia Tech Might Win: Bud Foster is just itching at the opportunity to gameplan for the Buckeyes. 

    Foster is one of the premier defensive coordinators in the country, and an underlying reason why the Hokies have been so good for so long. His units, regardless of personnel changes, don’t have off years. They attack, rarely miss tackles in the open field and always send defensive backs to the NFL. Barrett will struggle for two reasons—the retooled Ohio State O-line won’t control the quickness of linemen Luther Maddy, Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem. And the Tech secondary will shut down passing lanes, making the Buckeyes one-dimensional. After the way Ohio State operate on offense last Saturday, this is going to be a very difficult encore performance. 

    Why Ohio State Might Win: New year. Same old Hokies. 

    Tech’s recent struggles can be traced directly to the feeble production of the offense. Expect similar results in 2014, because the O-line is mediocre. And a mediocre blocking unit versus this Buckeye team is going to be a major problem. The Hokies will get mauled at the line of scrimmage by Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington. Long drives are not going to happen against an OSU defense that’s big, physical and getting better. If Tech is going to score enough to win, it’ll have to get turnovers and chunk yards on special teams.

    Who To Watch Out For: Considering it was his first game, Barrett played pretty well, completing 12-of-15 for 226 yards, two touchdown and a pick. The redshirt freshman has a high ceiling and a chance to grow exponentially if he has success against top-flight DBs Kendall Fuller, Brandon Facyson and Kyshoen Jarrett. 

    – Barrett won’t only have to worry about the Virginia Tech linemen. The linebackers can also flood the backfield, as is often the case in Blacksburg. Undersized Chase Williams and Derek Di Nardo are off to fast starts in 2014, and both will unleashed on an Ohio State offensive line that’s a little skittish right now. 

    – The Hokies have a new quarterback as well, Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer. Brewer had a decent first outing, throwing for 251 yards and two scores. And he has options in the receiving corps, though time could be another story. Brewer has good feet, but he’d hardly be considered a mobile quarterback. 

    – Meyer was pleased with the play of his backfield-by-committee, though there’s no Carlos Hyde in the bunch. Senior Rod Smith, sophomore Ezekiel Elliott and rookie Curtis Samuel are listed as co-starters, and Meyer will likely ride whichever back looks to have the hot hand. 

    What’s Going To Happen: The Buckeyes will get dragged into an alley fight … and live to tell about it. Virginia Tech can hang with Ohio State on defense. But it’ll take a more complete effort to win in Columbus at night. The Buckeyes will stifle the Hokie attack at the line of scrimmage, consistently forcing Brewer into rushed throws. While Ohio State won’t be prolific on offense either, it’ll get enough short-field chances to punch in scores and grab three points off the foot of Sean Nuernberger. It won’t be pretty, but that might become the Buckeyes’ tagline this season. 

    Prediction: Ohio State 31 … Virginia Tech 16 
    Line: Ohio State -11 o/u: 48.5 
    Must Watch Factor: (5: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton – 1: Hacked and Leaked Photos of Kate Upton and Justin Verlander) … 4 

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