The sun is scheduled to set on Columbus, Ohio at 7:55 Saturday night, five minutes before the Hokies and Buckeyes kick off. The crowd will be loud and raucous. The game will feature two of the country’s top defenses and two traditional powerhouses in the game on ESPN.
Quarterback Michael Brewer put it best: “This is what college football is all about.”
The expected crowd of nearly 108,000 would be the largest the Hokies have every played in front of, and it isn’t really close. The current record is 92,739 at LSU in 2007. It would also be a record crowd at The Horseshoe.
“I think our kids, I know myself, talking about the atmosphere, I like playing in a full stadium where they know Virginia Tech is there and their fans are excited,” Frank Beamer said. “I’d much rather play in that situation than one in where the stadium is about half empty and no one cares what’s going on. I like that atmosphere and I think our players do too. It’s exciting, national TV, prime time, it’s a lot to look forward to.”
Far more of a challenge than the environment though, will be the opponent.
“I’d say it’s a big, big step up,” Beamer said, comparing the Buckeyes to the Tribe. “Their defensive front, I’m not sure anyone is better in the country. They’re stout and athletic. They are tough. We have to step our game up a notch.”
The Buckeyes, led by freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, are coming off of a 34-17 victory over Navy, a game that was close until the fourth quarter. Though many consider the Hokies chances to be better now than before Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending, surgery-requiring injury, Tech won’t overlook what the Ohio State offense is still capable of.
“I don’t think much,” Beamer said when asked the differences between Barrett and Miller. “Maybe experience, but this Barrett kid is 6’1”, 225. He had a great game against Navy running and throwing, so to me you kind of have the same guy, without some experience. But otherwise it’s about the same. Otherwise I’d say it’s exactly the same.”
Tech knows how good Ohio State is. They know the numbers, records and the streaks, but refuse to let those be an excuse.
“I don’t think they’ve lost at home under Coach Meyer, yet,” quarterback Michael Brewer said. “And they’ve got one of the longest active home winning streaks, I think second longest in the country.
“Those are all just numbers though. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to need to step up and realize that you’re going to need to treat every game the same. Not go in there with a bunch of nerves, but rather feel confident because they prepared like they were supposed to. That’s not for just the freshmen, that goes for all of us.”
Instead of shying away from the occasion, they are rising to the occasion.
“It’s definitely going to be fun, something we’re all looking forward to,” sophomore cornerback Kendall Fuller said. “Playing a team like that who has been successful over the years with a great environment and a great college atmosphere and things like that. I know all of us are looking forward to it.”