Ohio State defeats Virginia Tech 42-24, proves it's still the team to beat

Ohio State is better than it was a year ago.

As crazy as that seems, the defending national champions took the field for their season opener against Virginia Tech on Monday and left with a dominating 42-24 victory.

For three quarters, Ohio State looked like a team that could have beaten any team it was up against. It jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to the arm strength of quarterback Cardale Jones and an 80-yard scamper by running back Ezekiel Elliott.

But then the Buckeyes got comfortable, turned the ball over twice and allowed the Hokies to gain momentum and take a 17-14 lead into halftime.

But that was where the good feelings for Virginia Tech ended.

Braxton Miller, the former Buckeye quarterback turned receiver, was the difference in the second half, scoring two touchdowns, including one where he made a spin move and left two defenders out of position.

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs for a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on September 7, 2015 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 7: Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs for a 53-yard touchdown in the third quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium on September 7, 2015 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

That score put the Buckeyes up 28-17 and they never looked back. Miller finished his night with two catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, and six carries for 62 yards and a score. He became the first Buckeye to have a 50-yard touchown run and a 50-yard touchdown catch in the same game since Ted Ginn Jr. in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.

It was Miller's first game action since the 2013 season.

The Hokies had the promise of going toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes in the second half until starting quarterback Michael Brewer suffered a broken collarbone after being crushed by defensive tackle Adolphus Washington while attempting a throw just three minutes into the half.

The Hokies had to punt on that possession and the air seemed to go out of the entire team. Backup Brenden Motley came on to try and fill Brewer’s shoes, but struggled to get any offense going until late in the game when he threw his first career touchdown pass with 1:55 remaining.

While the focus much of the offseason was on the quarterbacking controversy, Jones, who led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and a national title during his three games as starter, played the majority of the game and played well. He completed 50 percent of his passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed 13 times for 99 yards and a score.

J.T. Barrett, who was the starter the majority of the 2014 season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, got in late in the fourth quarter and did throw a touchdown pass. Coach Urban Meyer had maintained that the Buckeyes would play two quarterbacks, but even as the game got tight at the end of the first half, Meyer never wavered from Jones and it paid off.

Ohio State made a statement Monday night.

While Virginia Tech isn’t a ranked team, it’s a good team and going to Blacksburg to start the season is no easy feat. Ohio State got a little comfortable when it got up 14-0, but showed in the second half that it has the talent dominate a team when it needs to. The scary part is that the Buckeyes are only going to get better moving forward.

For more Ohio State news, visit BuckeyeGrove.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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