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#1 OHIO STATE BEGINS TITLE DEFENSE WITH REVENGE REMATCH AT VIRGINIA TECH

Ohio State has what's shaping up as a very easy schedule this season. They're the unanimous #1 pick to start 2015 after hoisting the trophy in 2014. And, it may be impossible to keep them out of the Final Four even if they lose a game! The Buckeyes are likely to be so dominant when things are going well that 12-1 would be enough to qualify. Fans are so optimistic that 12-1 is seen as a worst case scenario.

Let's not forget, though that "the one in 14-1" last year was Virginia Tech. That's not exactly Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker...but it's a reminder that anything can happen in college football. Ohio State was shocked at home by the Hokies before running the table.

Let's run our key indicator stats to see how Monday Night's rematch should play out...

2014 Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Ohio State: 14-1 (#29 schedule in USA Today)
Virginia Tech: 7-6 (#55 schedule in USA Today)

Ohio State may have had an easy time of it with their regular season schedule. But, there was nothing phony about their statistical dominance of Alabama and Oregon in the Final Four. And, that came on the heels of a historic demolition of a decent Wisconsin side in the Big 10 title tilt (don't forget that OSU was underdogs in all three of those games!). Virginia Tech could only manage .500 ball when not upsetting the Buckeyes...and that came against a soft ACC schedule. A low-point for the program (and possibly all college football!) came in that scoreless regulation tie with Wake Forest. How did Virginia Tech beat the Buckeyes?!

2014 Yards-Per-Play
Ohio State: 7.0 on offense, 5.0 on defense
Virginia Tech: 4.9 on offense, 5.2 on defense

Huge edge there. And, it would have been bigger if J.T. Barrett hadn't struggled so badly in his first test as a Buckeyes quarterback. He found his bearings soon after the embarrassing loss. Virginia Tech literally never got their offensive bearings all season. How can you have a minus differential against the #55 schedule?

2014 Turnover Differential
Ohio State: +7
Virginia Tech: -4

Virginia Tech usually bails themselves out with turnover differential. Promoting more of a passing game last year took that away. They were way too mistake-prone for Beamer Ball. Ohio State gradually got the best of the risk/reward scenario even amidst their QB turmoil.

2014 Market Performance
Ohio State: 10-5 ATS
Virginia Tech: 6-7 ATS

Often the national champion has a strong ATS record because part of their secret is being better than everyone realizes. That was certainly the case in the postseason...where the market just couldn't' believe that Cardale Jones was going to be so good. Tech was an overrated 5-7 ATS when not playing the Buckeyes.

Returning Starters
Ohio State: 7 on offense, 7 on defense
Virginia Tech: 8 on offense, 8 on defense

A slight edge to Tech...but that's pretty good for an Ohio State team that is hoping to repeat. They weren't killed by graduation. Virginia Tech is just returning the mediocrities that outgained on a per-play bases and lost the turnover category to a weak schedule. Ohio State may not drop off at all (scary thought for the rest of the sport), while Virginia Tech has a chance to improve up to 8-4 caliber if they can find an offense.

Quarterback
Ohio State: J. T. Barrett (34 passing TDs, 10 Interceptions last season)
Ohio State: Cardale Jones (7 passing TDs, 2 Interceptions last season)
Virginia Tech: Michael Brewer (18 passing TDs, 15 Interceptions last season)

We put in both Ohio State quarterbacks because it's not clear as we write this who's going to get the call Monday. Head Coach Urban Meyer says both signal callers will get playing time this year...but not necessarily in that first game. In our view...what Jones did vs. Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon is A LOT more impressive than what Barrett did prior to that vs. much weaker opponents in composite. But, Meyer knows what's been happening in terms of offseason preparation for '14. He'll likely make the smart choice.

Current Line: Ohio State by 14, total of 53

The line dropped as low as Ohio State -12 late in the week...but Buckeyes money came back into the marketplace even as other favorites were struggling to cover pointspreads. The wagering public will likely back OSU because they love favorites and this is a TV revenge spot.

Should you fade the public with the big Monday Night home underdog? Or, is Ohio State so good now that they can run away and hide from this caliber of opponent? JIM HURLEY will post his selection for you on game day right here at the website. Purchase that TV winner play the best from baseball conveniently with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Monday.

This week brings the NFL regular season to the sports schedule. Here's what's on tap in the NOTEBOOK...

Midweek: NFL TV Preview...Pittsburgh at New England
Friday-Saturday: College Football TV Preview...Oregon at Michigan State
Sunday: NFL TV Preview...NY Giants at Dallas
Monday: NFL TV Preview...Minnesota at San Francisco

Who will GET THE MONEY? The Buckeyes or the Hokies? We can tell you that BIG BUCKS are on the way if you sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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