Urban Meyer played 15 games for the Pulaski Braves in 1983, hitting .250 with one home run and four RBIs. He never got the chance to visit Blacksburg, Va., 27 miles up the road.
Meyer also never advanced past the rookie level in the Atlanta Braves organization. His baseball career ended that season. He was 18.
Thirty two years later, Ohio State fans can rejoice in the fact that Meyer’s career path took a different course. He leads the No. 1 Buckeyes into an 8 p.m. season opener Monday against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Meyer has never visited Lane Stadium but looks forward to the experience.
“I called three or four coaches who played down there,” Meyer said. “It’s supposed to be one of the top five or six (stadiums) in the country.”
In May, BleacherReport.com ranked Lane Stadium ninth on a list of the 10 toughest places to play in college football. In 2005, Rivals.com ranked Virginia’s home-field advantage No. 1 in college football.
The stadium, which celebrates its 50th birthday on Sept. 24, seats 65,632. The Hokies ranked 27th in the nation in average attendance in 2014 (61,157).
Since 1995, Virginia Tech is 105-23 (.820) at Lane Stadium. That’s the seventh-best winning percentage at home in college football among programs in the Power 5 conferences in the last 20 years.
Virginia Tech is 4-4 against top-10 teams at home since 2000 but has never beaten a No. 1 team at home.
“Coach Meyer has made it very evident to us it’s a very good stadium and a good environment to play in at night,” Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It’s loud. It gets rowdy in there. But we’ve played in hostile environments. We’ve played in the Big House (at Michigan). Last year we played at Penn State. We’re prepared.”
Ohio State has won 13 games in a row on the road. That’s the longest active road winning streak in the nation.
Meyer has a simple explanation for his team’s success on the road.
“It’s because we’ve got really good players who play well,” Meyer said. “There’s no magic formula other than recruiting really well. Recruiting really well is probably the best way of winning on the road, and I think we have.”