|Matchup Preview | Sept. 7, Lane Stadium, 8 p.m.|
|Ohio State Buckeyes|| Virginia Tech Hokies|
Five Fast Facts About Virginia Tech
1. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer is the longest tenured coach in Division I FBS football with a 231-115-2 record in 28 seasons as the Hokies’ coach.
2. The Hokies’ 327 interceptions since 1996 are the most by a Power Five school; Ohio State is second with 317. In addition, dating back to that same time, the Hokies have the most sacks in the Power Five with 723 (OSU is fourth with 647).
3. Virginia Tech is 48-3 against nonconference foes in Lane Stadium dating back to 1995.
4. The Hokies have never knocked off the nation’s No. 1 team.
5. Every single Hokie who scored a point last season for – a total of 313 points – returns in 2015. The list includes 14 players – four of whom were on the defensive side of the ball.
OHIO STATE RUSH OFFENSE vs. VIRGINIA TECH RUSH DEFENSE
A year ago, this was where the Buckeyes struggled the most, rushing for just 108 net yards. Ohio State never was able to get its run game going against the Hokies “Bear” front, putting pressure on a rebuilt offensive line and quarterback J.T. Barrett in his second start. Ohio State figured out how to beat the Bear front the rest of the season when future opponents switched to it, so it bears wondering whether Virginia Tech coordinator Bud Foster will go with that defense again or cook up something else. Even if he does, it appears the Buckeyes should have the edge here given the return of Ezekiel Elliott and four of five “Slobs” on the offensive line. EDGE: OHIO STATE
VIRGINIA TECH RUSH OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH DEFENSE
The Hokies ran for 147.9 yards per game thanks in part to a strong finish from J.C. Coleman, who topped 95 yards in each of the last four games including a season-high 157 in the bowl game vs. Cincinnati. He had to step to the fore because of injuries, and Marshawn Williams is still rehabbing a torn ACL while Shai McKenzie is suspended for the first game vs. Ohio State. The Hokies didn’t boast a dominant line last year, averaging just 3.8 yards per game, and things aren’t expected to be a ton better this year. Ohio State improved as the season went on vs. opposing ground games and aren’t expected to lose much in that regard, though the fact that only one returning starter on the line could be a concern. EDGE: OHIO STATE
OHIO STATE PASS OFFENSE vs. VIRGINIA TECH PASS DEFENSE
Ohio State should face its toughest test of the season when it comes to throwing the ball in game one. Virginia Tech has two excellent defensive linemen including star end Dadi Nicolas, while Kendall Fuller could be an All-American and first-round draft pick at cornerback. The Hokies could have the best defensive line and secondary in the ACC, and teams threw for only 13 touchdowns in 13 games against them last year. The Hokies made it tough on OSU a season ago, and the Buckeyes now don’t have the downfield threat Devin Smith to loosen things up. Of course, Ohio State got better a season ago as the year went on and still returns such weapons as Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller. EDGE: EVEN
VIRGINIA TECH PASS OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE
Quarterback Michael Brewer had the game of his life vs. Ohio State last year, making a number of crucial third-down plays to keep scoring drives alive. It was the highlight of the year in many ways as Brewer wound up finishing eighth in the ACC in passing efficiency. Brewer will have some decent targets, including athletic tight end Bucky Hodges, who caught the winning TD last year vs. Ohio State. But the Buckeyes are now in year two of the Chris Ash scheme and seem like they should have an excellent back seven highlighted by Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell. EDGE: OHIO STATE
It seems likely Ohio State will be solid on special teams with so much young talent to cover kicks, a potential All-America punter in Cameron Johnston and the supremely gifted Braxton Miller to return kicks. Virginia Tech has been known for its special teams under Frank Beamer, and kicker Joey Slye and punter A.J. Hughes return and are solid if not spectacular. The team really struggled in returns a season ago, however. EDGE: OHIO STATE
This one could go one of two ways. Virginia Tech will be playing in front of what should be an electric home atmosphere to cap college football’s opening weekend, while Ohio State will surely have some sort of revenge on the mind. Urban Meyer has lost to a team in consecutive seasons just twice in his career, and obviously the Buckeyes have had a long time to stew on last year’s loss. You never know how things are going to go in a first game, but for the moment we’ll just assume these two things even out. EDGE: EVEN
Missing four suspended players and going into an electric nighttime atmosphere against a top-25 team, Ohio State could be on upset alert in week one. But it seems as though it’s almost impossible to expect the Buckeyes to lose this one, especially after an offseason of hype and given just how much talent there is on the roster. The Buckeyes have been thinking of this game for months – not just because of the revenge aspect but because it’s game one in what could be a historic season – and they’ll overcome early struggles to pull away thanks to a defense that will get the job done. OHIO STATE 35-17
The staff pick is an average of predictions by staffers Kane Anderson, Ryan Ginn, James Grega, Tim Moody, Jeff Svoboda and Blake Williams