Virginia Tech, the opponent for Ohio State tonight in its season opener, is a relative newcomer among universities in Virginia.
Tech, which is located in the western part of the state, was founded in 1872, making it a much younger school than William and Mary, located in Williamsburg, Va., which was founded in 1693, or the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, established in 1819.
Interestingly, success on the football field and the age of a university seem to go in opposite directions.
The oldest universities, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and William and Mary long ago stopped playing football at the highest level or never did. Now the universities that were founded as the population shifted west and south are the college football powers.
In this year’s preseason Associated Press Top 10, only the University of Georgia (1785) was established before the fourth decade of the 19th century.
A different kind of history could be a factor in tonight’s game (8 p.m., ESPN).
Ohio State’s only loss on its way to last season’s national championship was a 35-21 defeat against Virginia Tech in its second game in 2014.
It’s a revenge game or it’s not a revenge game, depending on who you listen to at Ohio State.
Maybe the best way to describe how the Buckeyes as a group feel about this game is to say they certainly haven’t forgotten last year, which will be a motivator.
The video of last year’s game has been played and replayed by players and coaches the last week around Ohio State.
When OSU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner was asked how much he had watched last year’s game, he said, “Quite a bit, quite a bit.”
“Too many times. I can’t really put a number on it,” was linebacker Joshua Perry’s answer.
As it is this season, Ohio State was favored last season. But the Buckeyes were far from sharp, either offensively or defensively. It would not be exaggerating to say there was considerable panic in OSU’s fan base after watching quarterback J.T. Barrett complete only 9 of 29 passes, the running game struggle and the offensive line allow seven sacks.
So, are the Buckeyes walking into a dangerous situation again this year?
Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium has a reputation for being loud and being a tough place to play.
In 2007, ESPN ranked it No. 2 on the scariest places to play behind LSU. At that time, Virginia Tech was in the middle of an eight-year run of never winning fewer than 10 games.
But in the last three seasons, the Hokies have won seven, eight and seven games and their home field has looked much less frightening.
Virginia Tech’s strength is on defense. Its defensive line ranked fourth nationally in sacks last season and most of those guys are back. Kendall Fuller, predicted to be a first-round NFL draft choice, leads a tough defensive backfield.
The edge in experience in an OSU receivers against Virginia Tech defensive backs appears to go to the Hokies after the one-game suspension of three of the Buckeyes’ top pass catchers and Noah Brown’s season-ending broken leg.
Maybe the most important thing to watch is how Ohio State’s offensive line performs.
If the line opens holes for the running game consistently and gives whoever the starting quarterback is enough time to make good decisions, the atmosphere, the suspended players and all that shouldn’t make a difference.
The prediction: Ohio State 31, Virginia Tech 14.
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