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Bill Rabinowitz | The Columbus Dispatch | September 7, 2015

Ohio State not looking for 'revenge' against VT

  J.T. Barrett (16) went 11-1 as a freshman last season, his only loss was against Virginia Tech.

Most of them danced around the word, even though the concept is as ingrained as almost anything in competitive sports.


When someone beats you, the desire to win the rematch is intense. It's human nature.

Virginia Tech handed Ohio State its only loss of the 2014 season. In front of the largest crowd in Ohio Stadium history (107,517) on Sept. 6, 2014, the Hokies befuddled the Buckeyes with an unexpected defensive game plan in a 35-21 upset.

When Virginia Tech tanked the rest of the season -- it needed a bowl victory to finish with a winning record -- the loss looked to be an albatross for the Buckeyes. Instead, they used its lessons to propel them to the first College Football Playoff championship.

Now the teams meet again Monday night -- this time at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia. -- to open the 2015 season.

One might expect the Buckeyes to be all but frothing at the mouth at the prospect of getting another shot at the Hokies, but that hasn't really been their approach.

"We don't use the term revenge," coach Urban Meyer said. "We have to get ready to play a good team."

Most of the sting from that loss comes from the Buckeyes' belief that they were unprepared for Virginia Tech's game plan, particularly on defense. Much has been made of the "Bear Zero" that defensive coordinator Bud Foster used to stymie the Buckeyes' run game and force Ohio State to beat 1-on-1 coverage in the passing game.

"Offensively, right now there is a lot of distaste for the way that thing happened," Meyer said. "That's not taking away from their personnel, because I think they have excellent personnel, especially on defense.

GAME PREVIEW: Five things to watch during Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech

"But the way that happened, a lot of it was lack of preparation -- good players who are doing a scheme that our guys were not prepared for, so there is a big edge around here."

But the focus has been more on X's and O's than emotions. Senior linebacker Joshua Perry believes that dwelling on avenging the disappointment from last year can be counterproductive.

"I don't like using the word revenge because it's so emotional," he said. "You're not going to play your best when you're too overcome by emotion.

"It's not a 'revenge' game. It's a very important game between two talented teams in prime time."

The Hokies are unranked, but they are picked to be a contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Quarterback Michael Brewer, who showed plenty of moxie in the game last year, returns, with tight end Bucky Hodges as perhaps his favorite target.

The Hokies' defense is led by cornerback Kendall Fuller, an All-America candidate, and defensive end Dadi Nicolas.

"They're a different type of defense -- maybe not as big, but really fast and really tough and they play hard," Meyer said. "And it's probably one of the top five or top 10 places in the country to play."

Ohio State tight end Nick Vannett saw a game at Lane Stadium during an unofficial visit during his recruitment.

"It gets pretty rowdy," he said.

Vannett, however, strayed from the company line when he said that revenge is a major factor this week.

"They came into our house and embarrassed us, so we're out for revenge," he said. "We want to do the same thing for them."

The Buckeyes will be short-handed for their opener. Unanimous All-America defensive end Joey Bosa and receivers Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith are suspended for violating team rules. The Buckeyes also lost starting wide receiver Noah Brown for the season because of a broken leg suffered last week.

The receivers represent one of the few question marks for the Buckeyes entering the game, along with, of course, that little quarterback competition. Meyer said that only J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones will know who the starter will be before the game.

Regardless of who starts, the Buckeyes know they have unfinished business.

"I think we definitely have a little extra chip on our shoulders," senior defensive tackle Tommy Schutt said, "just knowing what happened last year and how we finished last year, knowing they were the only team that was able to beat us."

This article was written by Bill Rabinowitz from The Columbus Dispatch and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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