By now, I am sure you have heard much about what Ohio State is up against come Monday night at Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech.
The Labor Day game, which is slated to start at 8:00 p.m (EST) on ESPN, will mark the beginning of the Buckeyes quest to defend their national championship. With the Hokies handing Ohio State their lone loss last season at the Horseshoe, this season’s match up has been a trendy pick by analyst and fans alike for an early season upset.
Ohio State (a team that has run off 13 straight wins since last season’s loss to VT) ended the season as the hottest team in the country. It seems inconceivable that with the number of experienced players returning, and revenge fresh on their minds that Ohio State would walk into Lane Stadium anything less than “charged up”.
As referenced above, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott seems to be full go for Ohio State’s match up with Virginia Tech Monday night.
— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) September 6, 2015
That’s the beauty of college football though right? Anything can happen on any given Saturday (or in this case, Monday). It looks like the Hokies are ready as well.
48 hours 'til kickoff @jc_coleman4 is here to PUMP you UP!
RT if you're ready to #StartJumping
#757 > 465 lbs! pic.twitter.com/CWu1BDwAlC
— Virginia Tech Football (@VT_Football) September 6, 2015
With that being said, lets take a look at what the Buckeyes are up against as they travel along the road to a repeat.
Coming off a 7-6 season, the Hokies have not lived up to the standards set by previous teams where the expectations are to win double-digit games and compete for ACC championships. From 2004-11, Frank Beamers’ Virginia Tech squads won no less than 10 games in each of those seasons. In the three seasons since, the Hokies finished with no more than eight wins, with two 7-6 seasons over that span. Last season with a win over Virginia in the final regular season game, the Hokies were able to extend their streak of bowl appearance to 22 consecutive seasons.
So what will the 2015 version of the Virginia Tech Hokies look like? On offense, senior quarterback Michael Brewer returns after starting all 13 games for Tech last season. His shining moment came in the form of leading the team to a victory over Ohio State, but was very inconsistent the rest of the season finishing with 18 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions. With a full season as well as spring ball in this current system under his belt after transferring from Texas Tech, expect improvement from Brewer this season.
The real difficulties for the Hokie offense will be trying to find play makers around him. After averaging only 207.1 yards per game through the air, look for sophomore receiver Isaiah Ford to improve on his 709 yards receiving in which he led the team as a freshman last season. Ford has the ability to be the go to guy for Brewer this season. Sophomore tight end Bucky Hodges gives Brewer another steady option through the air, coming in second to Ford in catches with 45, and first in touchdown catches with seven last season.
If Virginia Tech can get anything out of its running game this season, (which had no player rush for more than 533 yards) it would take an enormous load off of Michael Brewer and the passing game.
What the Hokies lack on offense, they make up for on defense as they often do. Coached by defensive guru Bud Foster for yet another season, the Hokies have the talent on defense to give any opposing offense problems.
The defensive line is one of the best the country has to offer. Defensive ends Ken Ekanem and Dadi Nicolas both return as one of the best end tandems in the ACC, if not the country (combined for 19 sacks last season). Former All-ACC performer Luther Maddy returns at defensive tackle after missing most of last season due to injury. Corey Marshall will start at the other tackle spot to form one of the nations best defensive fronts.
Virginia Tech also boasts one of the top corner back tandems in the nation as well. Junior All-American Kendall Fuller may be the nations top corner, and will most likely be a first round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. On the opposite side, 6’2’’, 196-pound sophomore Brandon Facyson (who was granted a medical red-shirt last season) has all the tools to be a lock-down corner in his own right.
Ohio State won’t be going against a roster loaded with talent like their own in Virginia Tech, but they do have the defense (which will be aided by their home crowd) to keep the game close for a while.
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