Buckeye Wire’s Terry Johnson takes a look at Ohio State’s 2018 football schedule and provides some insight on four games that will make or break the season
This week, we’ve talked about Ryan Day’s promotion to offensive coordinator, the addition of Alex Grinch to the defense, and the Buckeyes stellar recruiting class. Now, it’s time to take a look at the 2018 schedule.
Much like last year, Ohio State plays a challenging schedule. The Buckeyes have seven home games, four road dates, and a “neutral site” match up at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. They have a relatively favorable conference slate, with five of their nine conference games at home. Unlike many of the other national championship contenders, Ohio State squares off against only one “Group of Five” opponent, opting to challenge itself against foes from the Pac-12 and Big 12 in the first three weeks of the season.
Full 2018 Schedule
9/1 — Oregon State
9/8 — Rutgers
9/15 — TCU (@ Arlington, TX)
9/22 — Tulane
9/29 — at Penn State
10/6 — Indiana
10/13 — Minnesota Golden
10/20 — at Purdue
11/3 — Nebraska
11/10 — at Michigan State
11/17 — at Maryland
11/24 — Michigan
Games that really matter
Let’s be honest: when you compete for a national championship year in and year out, every game on the docket is important. After all, it only takes one loss to knock you out of the College Football Playoff (unless you’re Alabama, which got a “redo” in both 2011 and 2017).
With that said, there are always a handful of contests that determine whether the team had a “good” or a “bad” season. Here are four that will shape how people view the success or failure of Ohio State’s 2018 campaign.
Sept 15 vs. TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Although the schedule calls this game a “neutral site” contest, the fact of the matter is that the Horned Frogs only have to travel 20 miles in the first matchup between these two powerhouses since 1973. But, remember, Buckeye fans, Ohio State’s last trip to AT&T Stadium was a successful one, with the team posted a 24-7 victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl.
Just like the Trojans, TCU won 11 games last season, and played in the conference championship game. Even though the Frogs lose a couple of key players this fall, there’s no reason to think that Gary Patterson’s squad won’t be in the thick of the Big 12 race again in 2018. While a loss wouldn’t knock Ohio State out of the national championship picture, a victory would put the team in the driver’s seat, much like it did in 2016.
Sept 29 at Penn State
Ohio State has won five of the last six meetings in this series. That might sound like good news, but oddly enough, the loser of this matchup has won the last two Big Ten championships. However, given the depth of the Big Ten East, this game will set the tone for the entire season.
A Buckeye win over Penn State – which will be 4-0 at this point– would send a message that OSU is still the team to beat in the B1G. On the other hand, a loss will put Urban Meyer’s squad the equivalent of two games behind the Nittany Lions in the divisional race. That’s the last place the Buckeyes want to find themselves heading into October, which makes this game a “must win”.
Nov 10 at Michigan State
Make no mistake about it: this is the most dangerous team on Ohio State’s schedule. Sure, the Buckeyes blasted the Spartans 48-3 last year, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be concerned heading into this matchup. Michigan State welcomes back 21 starters from last year’s 10-3 squad, including most of the defense, which ranked seventh nationally in total defense.
Given that OSU absolutely embarrassed these guys last year, expect Sparty to come into this contest with even more motivation, hoping to knock the Buckeyes out of the national championship picture, just as it did in 1998, 2013, and 2015.
Nov 22 vs. That Team Up North (some people refer to them as “Michigan”) … Or The Game
You’ve got to admire what Jim Harbaugh has accomplished as a head coach at the FBS level. He receives so much attention from the media – especially from ESPN
– because he’s won so many division titles and conference championships. All kidding aside, this is the greatest rivalry in all of college football, dating all the way back to 1897. Aptly titled, “The Game”, it is understood that Ohio State must win this contest every year (as it’s done in 13 of the last 14 seasons).
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