OSU fell to Virginia Tech, 35-21, in front of 107,517 spectators after winning its first home game in each of the past 35 seasons.
The game marked the first regular-season loss for the Buckeyes since coach Urban Meyer took over before the 2012 season.
After the game, Meyer thanked the Ohio Stadium crowd and had praise for Virginia Tech.
“Our opponent really did a good job preparing for us and exposed us a little bit, where some of the weaknesses right now on our team are,” he said. “And it was rather obvious what it is.”
Meyer went on to say his team can improve going forward, and said he looks forward to getting “back to work” this week.
The Hokies had a 14-point lead at halftime and took the lead for good with a touchdown with 8:44 remaining on the clock. OSU redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett was sacked six times in the second half on top of throwing three interceptions after the break.
Meyer said Barrett made a “gutsy effort” despite difficulties around him on the offense. The quarterback faced near-constant pressure from the Hokies’ defensive line and saw more than one of his passes fall through a receiver’s hands.
“Obviously not good enough, but a quarterback is the product of those around him, and we all have to get better,” Meyer said.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said his team’s preparation heading into the game was the key to coming out of the Horseshoe with a victory.
“I thought coming in we had a good game plan offensively and defensively, and I think we were doing the right stuff,” Beamer said. “For the most part, it worked out that way tonight.”
While Beamer’s team controlled the majority of the game, the Buckeyes’ still had some amount of fight left late in the second half.
OSU had one last chance to tie the game with a drive that started at its own 29-yard line.
Barrett picked up 22 yards on third and 19 before moving the ball past the 50. A sack made it third and 16 for the Buckeyes before Barrett threw his third interception of the game. Virginia Tech junior cornerback Donovan Riley took the turnover back for a touchdown for the final score of the game.
The touchdown marked the game’s final points after OSU had stormed back to threaten Virginia Tech after the early deficit.
Trailing 21-7 and struggling to move the ball in the second half, the Buckeyes ran consecutive options to freshman running back Curtis Samuel resulting in two first downs. Two plays later, Barrett hit redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas for a 53-yard touchdown, bringing OSU back within seven.
Meyer said that play came when the Buckeyes’ started to click on offense, which was what they needed to get back in the game.
“Mike Thomas turned a short one into a long one,” he said. “That’s what has to happen against a zero — that’s a good secondary.”
Sophomore safety Vonn Bell intercepted Virginia Tech redshirt-junior quarterback Michael Brewer on the ensuing drive to give OSU the ball inside the 50.
“I expect for plays to be made,” Bell said of the interception. “I do it for the team, my unit and this coaching staff. It’s just another play for me.”
OSU’s drive stalled, but sophomore punter Cameron Johnston pinned the Hokies inside the 10-yard line.
On second down with 12 yards to go, sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa sacked Brewer and forced a fumble to give the Buckeyes the ball in the red zone.
OSU took just 12 seconds to score on the next drive when sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott scampered in from 15 yards out to tie the game at 21.
Redshirt-senior kicker Kyle Clinton booted the kickoff out of bounds to give the Hokies a short field. Brewer capitalized with a 10-yard touchdown pass to put Virginia Tech back on top, 28-21.
One OSU drive stalled before the Buckeyes forced a Virginia Tech punt. Barrett threw an interception on third and 18 to end the Buckeyes’ next possession. The Hokies settled for a field goal try on the ensuing drive, but missed wide to the right.
The second-half surge and Virginia Tech rally came after both teams were stymied to start the game.
Both teams stalled on their opening drives before the momentum swung in the Hokies’ favor for most of the first half as they took a 21-7 lead.
Much of Virginia Tech’s success offensively came on third down as it went nine of 17 in third-down situations.
Bell said that was a product of the Hokies making plays “when they needed to.”
“We need to make plays to get off the field when we have to get the ball to the offense in those types of situations,” Bell said.
Barrett finished the game nine of 29 on pass attempts for 219 yards and one touchdown. He carried the ball 24 times for 70 yards, hindered by seven sacks. Elliott finished second on the team with 33 rushing yards and a touchdown while Thomas led all receivers in the game with 98 yards on six catches.
Senior linebacker Curtis Grant led the team with 9.5 tackles while sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa had 1.5 sacks.
Brewer finished the game with 199 yards through the air to go with two touchdowns.
Despite the loss, junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington said Meyer made it clear the Buckeyes can still have big aspirations going forward.
“Coach Meyer let us know in the locker room that 11-1 isn’t bad,” he said. “We just have to come back hungry next week.”
The loss marked the first of three consecutive home games on the OSU schedule. The Buckeyes are set to play Kent State Sept. 13 at noon before taking on Cincinnati at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27.