Sure, it's only February, but that doesn't mean that it's too early for some betting lines to start to pop up for early 2015 football games. You may have seen that Michigan finds themselves six point underdogs on the road at Utah. Alabama is an early 13-point favorite against the Wisconsin Badgers in their neutral site tussle in Texas, and lines for a few other big early season games are out as well. That includes Ohio State, who, according to 5Dimes, is a 19-point road favorite against the Virginia Tech Hokies.
Sure, Ohio State is likely going to be the preseason number one team in the country, and they are the defending national champs. And sure, Virginia Tech isn't likely to crack the preseason Top 25. But still ... 19 points, on the road, at night, to a team that not only has a pulse, but beat you last season? Ohio State was only favored by 11 last season, and that was at home. Is 19 too much?
After all, Virginia Tech should finish better than 7-6 this coming season. Michael Brewer, the QB that torched the Buckeyes last season, returns, and will probably do a better job at not throwing the ball to the other team than he did last season (15 ints). Tech returns their top four rushers from last season, and three of them were underclassmen. Their top three receivers last season were freshman. This offense was bad last season, boy howdy were they bad, but there is every reason to think that they'll be improved next season. You add that up with Frank Beamer scheming up defenses with a unit that also returns some talent, and you have an argument for a team that can compete in the ACC, win some games, and cause a lot of problems, even for an Ohio State. After all, despite having a terrible offense, VT had one of the best defenses in the country last season, according to F/+.
Virginia Tech faced an Ohio State team starting an inexperienced quarterback, a rebuild offensive line, and a defense that spent the last week preparing for Navy, a unit that couldn't be more different from Virginia Tech. This year, the Buckeyes bring in three potential Heisman candidates at the position, nearly their entire line, their running back, best all around wide receiver, and most of the major players from a very good defense. They've also had success against the vaunted Bear Fronts the Hokies threw at the Buckeyes over the year.
Finally, can you imagine how sick of hearing about Virginia Tech this Ohio State team must be? Up until the playoff, and even after in some quarters, every single positive thing written about Ohio State would warrant a chorus of "...BUT VIRGINIA TECH" thrown in the face of the author. Ohio State vanquished the giants of the sport last year, but were done in by a mediocre Hokie squad? Even though this game is away from Columbus, it will be difficult to imagine a game where Ohio State is more amped up than this one, short of a bowl, playoff or Michigan game.
No team has managed to beat Ohio State twice in a row since USC did in 2008 and 2009. It will take an awful lot of things going Virginia Tech's way for their name to join that list.
This line is crazy early, of course. Players can still get injured, suspended, or transfer. That line will undoubtedly shift between now and the actual game, which is months away. For now though, even though 19 seems like a big number on the road against a team that could win more than eight games, I wouldn't be shocked if Ohio State covered.