The off-season championship celebration is over and the long-awaited 2015 season is here. The Buckeyes opened their title defense on the road in Blacksburg against the only team that beat them last year, as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times.
Overall, it went well. The Buckeyes opened the game like they were going to rip Tech apart and nothing seemed to change that until Jack Willoughby’s missed field goal sparked a 17-0 run by the Hokies to close the first half. But the Buckeyes countered to regain the lead just after the break and never looked back—aided in part by Michael Brewer’s injury, but avoiding turnovers was just as important—winning 42-24.
Virginia Tech had every reason in the world to enter this game just oozing with confidence. The Hokies put it on the 2014 Buckeyes in Columbus, handing Urban Meyer his first ever home loss as Ohio State’s head coach. They turned the Buckeye offensive line inside out, stymied a guy who would go on to rush for more than 600 postseason yards and made J.T. Barrett look like…well, a freshman. They returned a lot of players from that team.
The Buckeyes had to have a few doubts. They had problems with the Hokies in all phases of the game a year ago. They spent an off-season doing interviews, throwing out first pitches and being filmed for BTN documentary specials. They lost key pieces of the team at all levels of the defense, a starting right tackle and tight end, and arguably their two most valuable wide receivers.
Would the Buckeyes handle the moment, as well as the hostile atmosphere of Lane Stadium? Could the defense be able to disrupt the Virginia Tech passing game? Would Ohio State’s quarterback fare better against the Hokies than Barrett did in 2014 (and who would it be?)? Could the Buckeyes exact their revenge?
Yes, meh, yes (it was Jones), and yes. Ohio State quickly quieted Lane Stadium with two touchdown drives and then shut up Blacksburg again just after halftime. Brewer was 11/16 for 156 yards and two touchdowns, but much of the yardage came on two plays. Jones was 9/18 for 186 yards and two touchdowns and ran 13 times for 99 yards and a score—not great, but solid. It was a dominating performance put in jeopardy only as long as Ohio State mistakes kept the Hokies in the game.
Here are your talking points for the 2015 opener at Virginia Tech:
WATER COOLER PREP (EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW…IN ONE PARAGRAPH)
Ohio State raced out to a 14-0 lead and it could have been more if not for a missed field goal after an incorrectly called incompletion should have set up an opportunity where Meyer may have gone for a fourth-and-2. Virginia Tech scored 17 straight to lead at the half, helped by a tipped interception that probably hit the ground and a muffed punt by Ezekiel Elliott. Braxton Miller scored two highlight-reel touchdowns in the second half as the Buckeyes rolled and Tech fell apart a bit after Brewer was injured. Zeke went for 122 yards and an 80-yard score on just 11 carries.
TALK BEFORE THE GAME
Some ex-Buckeyes were just looking for friends to watch the game with.
Yooo. Where my Buckeyes watching the game in Sacramento Ca? Gotta get around some of my fellow Buckeyes.— Larry Grant (@LarryGrant95) September 7, 2015
Was focus going to be a problem?
OK, but let’s get to what’s important. How was the tailgating scene?
They do tailgates right in Blacksburg. https://t.co/PgJ0CoKocE— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 7, 2015
TALK IN THE AFTERMATH
Former players were understandably pumped.
Now tell me who gon stop us?!? #shhhh— Devin Smith (@dsmithosu) September 8, 2015
A lot of people were talking about Braxton’s return.
I think Braxton Miller became WAY more interesting than the QB situation tonight. Holy cow. All things considered, nice win. I'm satisfied.— Tim Hall (@TimHall971) September 8, 2015
There were celebrity sightings in Blacksburg after the game.
Keyshawn Johnson stayed through Carmen Ohio and appeared to sort of know the words (!) Wearing his nephew's #3.— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) September 8, 2015
Some things you just can't argue.
Putting JT Barrett in after Cardale is like oh I hope you enjoyed your steak here's your dessert it's more steak— MaKi (@MattyKirk) September 8, 2015
GIVE THAT MAN A BUCKEYE LEAF (PLAYER OF THE GAME)
Welcome back, Braxton Miller. In his first game as an H-back/receiver, the two-time B1G Player of the Year looked every bit the part. His first reception of the game was a diving snare of a low pass down the field. He caught two passes for 78 yards and a touchdown and carried six times for 62 yards and another score (more on that later). Miller averaged 17.5 yards per touch and was electrifying in his return.
DID YOU SEE THAT?! (PLAY OF THE GAME)
Miller’s 53-yard run late in the third quarter was one of those plays that you can’t even duplicate on your xBox or Playstation. My words can’t do this justice, so here it is for you:
Honorable mention here goes to the opening touchdown of the season, where Cardale Jones whipped a pass about 40 yards in the air off his back foot and Curtis Samuel fought off pass interference to make a diving catch in the end zone.
SLOBBER KNOCKER OF THE GAME
Ohio State had just regained the lead, 21-17 to start the third quarter and Michael Brewer led Virginia Tech down to the Buckeyes’ 43. On third-and-4, Brewer dropped back and looked for tight end Ryan Malleck. Just as he released the ball, Adolphus Washington unleashed his full fury on Tech’s quarterback. It was a clean but crushing hit and Brewer landed on his shoulder, breaking his collarbone. It was unfortunate to see a kid who was balling out like that go down with a nasty injury. Diesel is a big man and when you get hit by him, well, sometimes things like bones just aren’t capable of absorbing that kind of punishment.
JIM TRESSEL'S LEAST FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE GAME
Tressel was polishing his rock collection while he watched his beloved Buckeyes open the season on the road at Virginia Tech. Not many know that he’s a big fan of granite and owns the state’s third-largest collection of granite rocks (in the under-one-pound division).
When Ezekiel Elliott looked to have room to run on a late second-quarter punt return but coughed it right back to the Hokies, you know where Tressel’s granite ended up? No, not embedded in the television. It went through the huge bay window across the room. Tress wanted to watch the second half, after all. He knew the Buckeyes would win. Plus, how many TVs did the Vest destroy last year during his least favorite moments?
WHEN YOU SANK INTO YOUR CHAIR (THE MOMENT BUCKEYE FOOTBALL DISGRACED YOUR FAMILY)
There must be someone who can kick a field goal against Virginia Tech. Teams do it all the time. The missed field goal by Jack Willoughby, who won the starting job over Sean Nuernberger, gave Virginia Tech hope. The Hokies clung to that hope, got a few breaks and reeled off 17 straight points to take a halftime lead. Missing field goals is anti-Tressel and that must not stand.
WHAT YOU TEXTED YOUR FRIEND AT THE END OF EACH QUARTER
First: “80 yards through the heart of Virginia.”
Second: “What the hell was that quarter? I’m going to start drinking now.”
Third: “OMG Braxton wut?”
IT WAS OVER WHEN
With the Buckeyes up 21-17 and Brewer already out, Jalyn Holmes forced J.C. Coleman to fumble and Eli Apple recovered at the 47. On the next play, Miller went around the left end, made a spin move that stripped the soul from every Hokies fan in attendance, and took it 53 yards to the house. The Buckeyes were up 28-17 and without Brewer there was never much danger of a Tech comeback.
Next up is Hawaii (1-0) out of the Mountain West Conference, which opened the season with a 28-20 "upset" of PAC-12 Colorado. The Buckeyes will be on short rest, but at least they'll have Joey Bosa, Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson available. Remember, the best thing about being 1-0 is the chance to go 2-0.