Whether you consider this officially gameweek or not (the players sure seem to think it is even though Ohio State doesn't technically play a game this calendar week), your interests for the next eight days will probably begin and end with Virginia Tech.
Last year's game was utterly unenjoyable from a Buckeye vantage. The revenge #Drop50 (e.g. putting up half a century) factor may be fun to think about, but for plenty of transactional reasons you're more than versed on as an OSU devotee, getting there will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Losing three wide receivers on a team already losing their top two wide receivers stands out -- at least in my mind -- as the biggest threat to the Buckeyes' Sept. 7 victory aspirations. After the suspensions and Brown injury, though, the Vegas line has barely moved meaningfully at all.
But if you don't think the defending national champs on the road as two-score favorites goes out the window a hair, I might encourage you to revisit the past weekend that was in Division I football:
Season is ONE GAME OLD, and we've already seen a 4-time national champ go down. CFB BACK http://t.co/zdyjbjJsp9 pic.twitter.com/i3gJv6orqp— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) August 29, 2015
The reason(s) to be optimistic, however, even if you're a cynicism-based life form, exist. Perhaps even in plural.
The "gawd" (in Twitter parlance) Bill Connelly's advanced statistics have the Hokies as the 24th best team in the country, ostensibly with good reason. But as our Chad Peltier writes in the writeup from the 2015 Football Outsiders Almanac, "another year, another stellar defense and another poor offense that prevented the Hokies from doing even more." Chad may as well be writing about this season's team, thanks to the haphazard transfer reclamation project under center in Michael Brewster, and former Michigan QB and QB coach Scot Loeffler's standing as one of the least threatening offensive coordinators in the country.
In fairness, the Hokies struggled with injuries last year (and the lack of depth that elite teams must possess to endure them) that ensured they weren't the same team that shocked Ohio State in Ohio Stadium. But even with full personnel back, there's little recruiting wise in recent years to expect them to undergo the same rapid bounce back the Ohio State Buckeyes did following Luke Fickell's lone year in 2011, a season not entirely dissimilar to VT's from last year based on on-the-field results.
We know VT's defense will be quite good. Bud Foster is a brilliant coordinator who, despite never having gotten a head coaching opportunity elsewhere, is as much a part of the Virginia Tech culture as Frank Beamer. But with the Bear front having been utterly ineffective once Ohio State found a running game against teams with players VT only sees when they visit Tallahassee, what other trick can the Hokies' defensive braintrust have up their sleeve for Ohio State?
The Hokies' only Achilles' heel a year ago was their vulnerability to explosive run plays. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes are bringing with them a guy who totaled 220, 230, and then 246 yards in successive weeks -- in more pressure packed situations on a bigger and bigger stage each time at the end of last season -- and he's bringing almost his entire offensive line back with him. Explosive plays against stout defenses is sort of his calling card, too:
Even assuming their offense somehow regresses to the mean (and that's a mighty forgiving hypothetical), Virginia Tech would be hard pressed to beat an Ohio State team of the same make and model as the one that showed up in Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Arlington.
Despite the quarterback selection looming ominously to outsiders at Ohio State, last year's outcome culminated in VT fans printing T-shirts because of the one-off, black swan event nature of a 7-6 football team going into Ohio Stadium and beating the eventual national champs underneath the lights.
The Hokies have the kind of reputation they do for a reason -- the only mar on Ohio State's national championship-winning campaign a season ago. But forget about last year's loss; the injuries, the suspensions, the uncertainty at who will be starting QB. The time for worrying is behind you. The Buckeyes are the No. 1 team in the nation. And until they give us cause to doubt them, that's where they'll stay a week from now.