The annual College Football Labor Day game has provided CFB fans with some memorable moments the past few seasons. Two years ago, a Florida State redshirt freshman named Jameis Winston lit up Pittsburgh to kick off a Heisman campaign. In 2010, Boise State and Virginia Tech went down the wire in one of the season’s great games.
Tonight, Virginia Tech is featured again, but this time the game’s in Blacksburg.
And, the Number one team in the nation has arrived.
Here come the Buckeyes.
It’s not news that the Buckeyes are coming off a national championship season and a 13 game winning streak. More important to consider is that Ohio State’s last loss was to these same Hokies in Game two of the 2014 season. A two touchdown L to Virginia Tech, mind you.
So, it’s the rare game where the favorite wants revenge and the home underdog has nothing to lose. Could make for one heck of an interesting night in the great state of Virginia.
Here are my Keys to the Game
When Virginia Tech has the ball...the VT OL must give QB Michael Brewer adequate time to throw...OSU All-World DE Joey Bosa won’t play so that should help, but the OL must quell inside pressure from DT Adolphus Washington...Ohio State’s secondary just needs to keep it in front...nothing exotic but don’t let Brewer and company steal a touchdown by blowing a coverage down the field...make VT’s offense drive the rock the length of the field to beat them.
Virginia Tech Offensive Players to Watch
QB No. 12 Michael Brewer (Sr)
RB No. 4 J.C. Coleman (Sr.)
Ohio State Defensive Players to Watch
DT No. 92 Adolphus Washington (Sr.)
MLB No. 5 Raekwon McMillan (Soph.)
SLB No. 43 Darron Lee (Soph.)
S No. 11 Vonn Bell (Jr.)
When Ohio State has the ball...the Buckeyes have to counter the speed of the Hokies defensive front...screens or run/pass options should keep DEs Dadi Nicolas and Ken Ekanem from sprinting after Ezekiel Elliott in the run game...the Hokies used a ton of Bear 46/Double Eagle last year v. the Buckeyes so expect that early and to counter, look for the Buckeyes to use the quick passing game and plenty of jet sweep out of gun to spread the defense back out.
Ohio State Offensive Players to Watch
QB No. 16 J.T Barrett (Soph.)/No. 12 Cardale Jones (Jr.)
RB No. 15 Ezekiel Elliott (Jr.)
WR No. 3 Michael Thomas (Sr.)
LT No. 68 Taylor Decker (Sr.)
RG No. 65 Pat Elflein (Jr.)
Virginia Tech Defensive Players to Watch
DE No. 4 Ken Ekanem (Jr.)
DE No. 90 Dadi Nicolas (Sr.)
DT No. 92 Luther Maddy (Sr.)
CB No. 11 Kendall Fuller (Jr.)
2016 NFL Draft Player Prospect matchups
Ohio State LT No. 68 Taylor Decker v. Virginia Tech DE No. 90 Dadi Nicolas
Ohio State G No. 65 Pat Elflein v. Virginia Tech DT No. 92 Luther Maddy
Ohio State WR No. 3 Michael Thomas v. Virginia Tech CB No. 11 Kendall Fuller
The Buckeyes are a two score favorite on the road, in a hostile environment. I don’t like double digit road favorites, especially at night in Blacksburg, VA. That said, I hate even more the lack of any true Virginia Tech offensive weapon. I don’t see Virginia Tech scoring on Ohio State, unless, like last year, the Hokies turn the Buckeyes over as they did last year. I don’t have any intel on the Ohio State quarterback situation but I’m not ultimately worried about it. Both guys can play and they’ll eventually find success on an aggressive Hokie defense. Nicolas and company will play off the crowd and the emotion of the moment in the first half, but the reality will set in during the second half that the Buckeyes are for real.
Ohio State - 29 vs. Virginia Tech - 14