A day that started bad for the Big Ten ended even worse as the Conference’s best chance at the new College Football Playoff suffered a tough loss to their unranked visitors. The Virginia Tech Hokies, led by junior quarterback Michael Brewer, went in to Ohio Stadium on Saturday night and left with a 35-21 victory over the 8th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. Brewer completed 23-of-36 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the upset which seemed to be forecast by numerous folks including our own VAVEL USA College Football Roundtable crew.
Virginia Tech got on the board first on their second drive of the game. They started in incredible field position at the Ohio State 47 after a terrible punt by Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston. The Hokies showed a great balance of running and passing on the 10-play drive while culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Shai McKenzie.
The Buckeyes answered right back relying on the legs of quarterback J.T. Barrett for a majority of the yardage on their first scoring drive. They started out with an incomplete pass from Barrett to Corey Smith before Urban Meyer just kept calling his quarterback’s number. Barrett responded with two runs of 20+ yards on consecutive plays to get the Buckeyes from their own 18 all the way to the Virginia Tech 37. Ohio State was gifted by two defensive pass interference calls but the story was Barrett. He finished with five carries for 61 yards and the touchdown on the tying drive.
Michael Brewer did not wait long to lead his Hokies back down the field. This time it would be Marshawn Williams getting the lion’s share of the carries earning three for 17 yards including the 14-yard touchdown run at the end of the 9-play drive to put the Hokies back on top 14-7 late in the first quarter.
Ohio State would have a couple of pristine chances on their next two drives to tie and/or take the lead but they came up short in both of them. The first drive pushed all the way down to the Virginia Tech 23-yard line before stalling. Kicker Sam Nuernberger was called upon for a 40-yard field goal attempt which was no good.
The Ohio State defense forced a three-and-out on Virginia Tech’s next possession before J.T. Barrett completed a 58-yard pass to Devin Smith to put Ohio State at the VT 10-yard line. Three incomplete passes later, Nuernberger came out again for a chip shot 27-yard field goal. This attempt was also missed by the freshman from Buckner, Kentucky.
The Hokies would strike next on a perfectly-executed two-minute offense by quarterback Michael Brewer. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 61 yards in just over a minute to lead Virginia Tech to another touchdown. This increased the lead to 21-7 going into halftime.
It would be another long touchdown pass for Barrett to cut the lead back down to seven with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter. Ohio State had run the ball on the first five plays on the drive. It was the sixth play which Barrett hit Michael Thomas for a 53-yard touchdown. The extra point was good and we were back to a 7-point ball game.
Ohio State tied the game with 11:40 to go after a sack and strip by defender Joey Bosa. Brewer fumbled the ball at his own 15-yard line with OSU defender Rashad Frazier recovering to seemingly give the Buckeyes hope. Ezekiel Elliott scored from 15 yards out on the second play of the drive to bring Ohio State level at 21 with Virginia Tech.
Michael Brewer shook off the turnover quickly in leading the next scoring drive. Virginia Tech was gifted from a defensive pass interference call on 3rd-and-7 from their own 38 which game them an automatic first down. Deon Newsome ran for 24 yards on the next play followed by a 17 yard gain by Sam Rogers. Brewer ended the drive with a touchdown pass to the aptly named Bucky Hodges to lift Virginia Tech back into the 28-21 lead.
The teams exchanged punts before Ohio State took over with 5:42 to go. Barrett was sacked on 2nd down to set up a long 3rd-and-18 from his own 30-yard line. His pass was picked off by Kyshoen Jarrett putting the Hokies in field goal range. Virginia Tech ran three plays to try and kill some clock before kicker Joey Slye attempted a 46-yard field goal. His good was NO GOOD!
Ohio State had life now down by seven with 3:06 remaining. Their next drive started out poor when Barrett was sacked, he made up for the with a 22-yard run. Barrett was sacked two more times on the next five plays setting up a 3rd-and-16 from their own 49-yard line with 59 seconds left. Barrett’s pass was intercepted and taken to the house by Donovan Riley to seal the upset for Virginia Tech.
The Virginia Tech Hokies return home to Lane Stadium next weekend for a non-conference clash with the East Carolina Pirates who held their own in a 10-point loss to #21 South Carolina earlier on Saturday. Ohio State will play at Ohio Stadium next Saturday against the Kent State Golden Flashes who fell to South Alabama 23-13 on Saturday.