Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes will continue to adjust to life without one of their leaders, as they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in an intriguing non-conference showdown at Ohio Stadium on Saturday evening.
Urban Meyer's Buckeyes own the nation's longest regular-season win streak, making it 25 straight victories with last week's season-opening win against Navy (34-17) in Baltimore, MD. Ohio State has also won 35 straight home openers, with the last loss coming to Penn State in 1978.
Frank Beamer's Hokies also enjoyed success in their season opener last week. Virginia Tech made light work of FCS foe William & Mary at home, 34-9. The winningest active coach (267), Beamer was given a contract extension through 2018 just prior to the home opener.
"As I've stated numerous times, the only job I desire is right here at Virginia Tech," Beamer said. "This coaching staff is the best I've ever had. We've had an influx of talented, young student-athletes into our program and we're hard at work recruiting more just like them. So, I'm confident in the character and talent of our coaches, players and support staff."
This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs. Virginia Tech and Ohio State will open the 2015 season against one another in Blacksburg on Labor Day (Sept. 7).
The Hokies enjoyed great balance in the opener against William & Mary, as the team churned out 488 yards of total offense, with 222 coming on the ground and 266 through the air.
A disappointing ground attack last year, was replaced with a potent one against the Tribe, led by freshman tailback Shai McKenzie, who gained an impressive 106 yards and one touchdown on just nine carries (11.8 ypc).
Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer played as advertised under center, as he was an efficient 23-of-30 passing, for 251 yards and two TDs, those scores going to tight end Bucky Hodges (6 rec, 38 yds) and wideout Isaiah Ford (4 rec, 43 yds).
The Tech defense was equally impressive in the win, holding William & Mary to just 193 yards of total offense. The Hokies' rush defense allowed just 76 yards on 2.7 ypc, while giving up a mere 117 through the air. In addition, Virginia Tech allowed just one third-down conversion, recorded four sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries.
Sophomore cornerback Kendall Fuller led the way with five tackles, including a sack. Senior linebacker Derek Di Nardo tied Fuller with five stops, adding three QB hurries and one fumble recoveries. Junior cornerback Donovan Riley (four tackles) had the other fumble recovery, while senior linebacker Chase Williams was responsible for two of the four sacks.
It took a little while for Ohio State to distance itself from Navy in the opener, but a balanced attack accounted for 420 yards, with 194 of that coming on the ground and 226 through the air.
The Buckeyes were handed a severe blow just prior to the start of the year, with a season-ending injury to star quarterback Braxton Miller. To his credit, new signal caller J.T. Barrett was effective in his first collegiate game. The 6-foot-1 freshman was 12-of-15 passing, for 226 yards, with two TDs and one INT, while pacing the Buckeyes on the ground as well with 50 yards on nine carries.
Meyer was pleased with Barrett's performance for the most part.
"I was not surprised at all by J.T. I thought he handled himself very well for his first start," said Meyer.
"You take away the interception, and I think he did very well. And I'm trying to think what misfires he had, very cognitive quarterback. Very smart quarterback that gets us in the right plays and makes the right decisions."
Sophomore WR Michael Thomas (3 rec, 39 yards) and senior WR Devin Smith (2 rec, 47 yards) accounted for the two passing scores. Smith's was an 80-yard strike late in the third quarter.
Ohio State did struggle defensively with Navy's option, as the Midshipmen amassed 370 yards on the ground, averaging a hefty 5.9 yards per carry.
The Buckeyes were active upfield, recording 8.0 TFL and two sacks. Sophomore safety Tyvis Powell had a strong outing, pacing the team with 13 tackles. Freshman linebacker Darron Lee (7 tackles) had the momentum-changer though, as he picked up a fumble and raced 61 yards for a touchdown to give OSU its first lead of the game early in the third quarter.