Ohio State OFFENSE: Last year's performance was extremely pitiful for Ohio State, and there's no other way to put it. From a coaching perspective, it was a surefire F. Herman/Meyer had no clue how to attack the Hokies and it resulted in an embarrassing show by the offense. Ohio State rushed the ball 40 times for a whopping 107 yards. Heisman favorite Ezekiel Elliott accounted for 32 yards rushing, a total he might surpass on the opening series Monday night. J.T. Barrett threw three picks, and was pounded behind a porous offensive line that could not protect him.
This year should be different, and it will start with Ohio State running the football against a stacked front designed to take away the run. Remember one thing: GREAT TEAMS RUN THE FOOTBALL WHEN THEY WANT TO. Stacked front? Eight in the box? Safety's up? Does not matter. This game is a payback game for the O-line, and I believe they will run it at will and protect J.T. Barrett/Cardale Jones. I expect Barrett to get the bulk of the snaps, and play the way Buckeye fans saw him play last year after the Virginia Tech game. I expect to see Braxton Miller run out of the Wildcat behind 10 blockers, and rush for a lot of yards. Ohio State will still throw it, but the offensive focus will be to smash the ball with Elliott.
VIRGINIA TECH DEFENSE: They will more than likely attempt to defend Ohio State the same way as last year, in taking away the run first and foremost, and playing man-to-man on a bunch of inexperience wideouts. I still think OSU can get deep on the Hokies, and if you remember Barrett had three completions over 40 yards. But instead of keeping Nick Vannett in for blocking purposes, the Buckeye tight end should be able to get loose down the seam. Look for OSU to use the shovel pass/forward lateral to Braxton the way they did with Jalin Marshall last season. Mike Thomas gets a tough assignment as the #1 target, but he should be able to beat man coverage from any DB. I do not see the Hokies holding Ohio State to 21 points in the first half, let alone the game.
VIRGINIA TECH OFFENSE: They didn't do much last year, but they did just enough. Michael Brewer was good, but he only threw for 199 yards, not 399 yards. They will try to establish the run Monday night, especially going right at Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt and Raekwon McMillan. If they can't run the ball effectively, and I don't see them able to, it puts a LOT more pressure on Brewer to make throws. I would expect Chris Ash to bring a safety up to the line, and load the box, forcing Brewer to beat them over the top. A big part of the Hokie success last year was that they held the lead for 90% of the game and were able to dictate pace of play. If Ohio State starts fast, let's see how Brewer responds.
OHIO STATE DEFENSE: Take away the run, force Brewer to beat you. Simple plan, and now it's up to the defense to execute. Last year's defensive scheme worked pretty well, but this is Year-Two under Ash, and it should be dominant early even without Joey Bosa. Can they pressure with four? Can Sam Hubbard provide pressure with Tyquan Lewis? Gareon Conley will be forced to play man a lot, and so will the nickel, probably Damon Webb. Can they hold up? I think they can.
THE INTANGIBLES: Meyer loves to have an "angry" team, but the reality is there won't be much reason for anger this season like there will be Monday night in Blacksburg. Meyer himself was embarrassed last year. So was his offensive line and line coach Ed Warinner. J.T. Barrett was humbled by the Hokie defense. For one night, I think Meyer and company are highly motivated to redeem themselves from a horrible loss, and I think they get their revenge in a big way. Ohio State 45 Virginia Tech 20.