The 42-24 win by the Ohio State Buckeyes over Virginia Tech, with Braxton Miller dazzling at wide receiver and Cardale Jones getting the start at quarterback, wasn’t the smoothest of performances, but it sets the national champions off the right way into the 2015 season, and they have a very long stretch or relatively comfortable games to work out their tweaks.
It’s going to be a while before Ohio State meet a ranked opponent, so it’s good they have time to fix what’s not working. In the first half of their win the Hokies were equal if not better. Who knows, if Michael Brewer doesn’t go down and break his collarbone, this game could have ended very differently. His replacement, Brenden Motley, looked completely unprepared for the moment, throwing one touchdown pass and also an interception. The Buckeyes outscored Virginia Tech 21-7 after Brewer went down, an injury that will keep him out for 8 weeks.
The quarterback situation at Ohio State remains a mysterious one. Cardale Jones didn’t get the nod to start the game until the first series. Both he and J.T. Barrett were ready with mouthpieces and helmets. But the older quarterback, the one with that amazing finish from last season, got the starting spot. Jones wasn’t great in throwing the ball, completing just 50% of his throws for 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He later said that playing in Lane Stadium probably got to him a little bit. It was his first start in an actual away game. Jones also ran for 99 yards and a touchdown. Barrett attempted and completed just one pass, while also pulling off a 40-yard run.
While Ezekiel Elliott had a good running day with a touchdown and 122 yards on only 11 carries, he also muffed a punt return which resulted in the Hokies taking the lead for the first time on their next series. The junior running back was one of the heroes of last season’s championship run, and can’t afford to make too many mistakes like that as he probably plans on entering the draft at the end of this season.
The big star for the Buckeyes was Braxton Miller. An excellent quarterback who got unlucky, replaced by two guys who are probably better. Turned into a wide receiver for his final year, Miller ran for 62 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes for 78 yards and another score. His spin move on a 53-yard touchdown run is already guaranteed to be one of the best plays we’ve seen this season.
Ohio State still have questions to answer. Their passing game was far from clicking and their defense and special teams were far from perfect. But this is just week 1, and with the offensive talent they have it’s hard to believe we’ll see them losing in the next month or two, before things start getting a little bit more interesting for the guaranteed #1 ranked team when the polls come out.