Some of the merits of this game stand on their own – Lane Stadium is a unique, exciting environment and the first game of the year always comes with some extra excitement – but there’s no denying that this matchup would be lower on this list had Ohio State come away with a win against Virginia Tech last season. Instead, the Hokies saddled a young Ohio State team with a 35-21 loss and left a then-record Ohio Stadium crowd thirsting for revenge.
Time heals all wounds, but the divergent directions the two teams took after that September night have allowed the frustration to fester longer than it otherwise might. The beating that Ohio State fans seek as justice, though, may not come as easy as some think. The Hokies ended 2014 with a mediocre record, but the Buckeyes will enter the game with crushing expectations and two backup quarterbacks who hold legitimate arguments to be on the field.
Still, the smart bet is that the Buckeyes push aside any issues and give Buckeye fans one of the wins they most want to see this season.
No. 2: Virginia Tech
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Stadium: Lane Stadium (65,632)
Head coach: Frank Beamer (29th year, 231-115-2)
Record against Ohio State: 1-0 (35-21 in 2014)
Returning starters: eight offense, eight defense
2014 record: 7-6 (3-5 ACC)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: No. T-41 (2015), No. 36 (2014), No. 34 (2013), No. 26 (2012), No. 36 (2011)
Who to watch: CB Kendall Fuller, QB Michael Brewer, TE Bucky Hodges, DT Luther Maddy, DE Ken Ekanem
Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
It's not The Game, but there's a slight chance this one could end up retroactively upgraded if Michigan is utterly mediocre in Jim Harbaugh's first season. Even so, that seems like a stretch.
Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
First game as defending champs, with the quarterback derby champion taking snaps? Hard to downgrade this one.