Ohio State Football And Ranking Its 2018 Schedule by Importance

Ohio State Football And Ranking Its 2018 Schedule by Importance

Terry Johnson

Ohio State Football And Ranking Its 2018 Schedule by Importance


We’ve already looked at Ohio State’s 2018 schedule and provided a prediction for every game. Now, we’ll rank every game by importance.


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Ohio State Football And Ranking Its 2018 Schedule by Importance

Although coaches will tell you that every game is important, there are some that mean more than others. For example, if Ohio State had lost any game other than the one against Michigan State in 2015, it would have played in the College Football Playoff.

Which games will mean the most to the Buckeyes on the 2018? I’ve broken them down in order of importance below.

As always, if you disagree, feel free to discuss with us on Twitter at @BuckeyeWire.

12. vs Tulane (Sept. 22)

With all due respect to the Green Wave, this is the least important game on Ohio State’s schedule. Tulane isn’t going to beat the Buckeyes and even if – and it’s an Isaiah Prince-sized if – it did, the Selection Committee would forget all about it as long as OSU takes care of business against Penn State the following week. The only thing that really matters here is that the Bucks escape this contest without any significant injuries.

11. vs Oregon State (Sept. 1)

The season opener with the Beavers doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Sure, a victory would get the 2018 campaign off to a positive start, but a loss wouldn’t exactly derail the season. Since this game doesn’t have any impact on the Big Ten race, I’m placing it second from the bottom.

10. vs Nebraska (Nov. 3)

Once known as the “Big Red Machine”, the Cornhuskers are more like a little red wagon these days. Nebraska lost eight games last season, which was the second-highest total in the school’s storied history.

Although I think Scott Frost will eventually get the program back to where it was under Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, this game is one of the least important on OSU’s schedule this year.

9. vs. Minnesota (Oct. 13)

It’s going to take more time for P.J. Fleck to turn the Gophers into a perennial contender in the West division. Given that he’s probably a couple of seasons away, this contest doesn’t really have much of an impact on Ohio State’s College Football Playoff profile, unless Minnesota makes it to a bowl game this season. Yet, the Gophers will be better than Nebraska, which is just enough to move this game into the top ten.

8. vs. Rutgers (Sept. 8)

Like the season opener, Ohio State’s conference opener has little impact on the 2018-19 campaign. I highly doubt that the Buckeyes will lose this contest, but even if they did, there’s still plenty of time to right the ship. However, it is a divisional game, so I’m going to put it in front West division opponents Nebraska and Minnesota in terms of importance.

7. vs. Indiana (Oct. 6)

As I’ve noted in a few other pieces, Indiana hasn’t beaten Ohio State since 1988, which was John Cooper’s first season. Although that doesn’t figure to change this fall, the Hoosiers are one of three trapdoor games on the Buckeyes’ schedule. That fact makes it more important than many of the other contests.

6. at Purdue (Oct. 20)

Why is a non-divisional game this high on this list? Simple: the Boilermakers will finish in the upper half of the West division this year. With a relatively manageable slate early on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Purdue is in the top 25 when these teams meet on Oct. 20. Ohio State can make a huge statement by winning on the road versus a ranked opponent, which is why this is one of the more meaningful contests on the schedule.

5. at Maryland (Nov. 17)

I’m sure that this ranking prompted more than a few of you to say, “Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.”

All joking aside, this is a classic trapdoor game because it’s sandwiched between a must-win game versus Michigan State and a season-ending showdown against TTUN. Will the Buckeyes come into the game focused on the task at hand or will they be looking ahead to their annual victory over their most hated opponent (more on that below)?

Since a loss in this contest would derail the entire season — regardless of what happens the week before or the week after — I’ve moved this matchup into the top 5.

4. vs TCU in Arlington, TX (Sept. 15)

A lot of people think this is a make-or-break game for Ohio State. I disagree. Sure, the Buckeyes can earn some respect nationally by defeating the Horned Frogs in a de facto road game. Yet, few people would punish OSU for losing this contest, given how good the TCU defense will be this fall. Considering that there’s absolutely no pressure on the Bucks to win, I’ve listed this game a few notches below the top spot.

3. at Penn State (Sept. 29)

There’s no denying that this game is important, as the winner has proceeded to win the Big Ten championship in each of the last two seasons. Both teams should be in the thick of the East division race again this fall, making this contest a “must win” for the Buckeyes. With that said, this isn’t Ohio State’s toughest road game this season, which is why the trip to Happy Valley is only the third-most important game on the docket.

2. vs TTUN (Nov. 24)

Is a series really a rivalry when one team wins all the time? Probably not, which is why I list this as The Game and not as a rivalry. Ohio State has won 13 of the last 14 in this series, including the last six meetings. While Jim Harbaugh may eventually win that ever-elusive first division title at the FBS level, TTUN still has too many question marks on offense to win the East this year.

Although the Selection Committee will give the Buckeyes credit for beating a team that it should, the fact of the matter is that there is still one more game that means more than this one… at least in terms of the College Football Playoffs.

1. at Michigan State (Nov. 10)

Make no mistake about it: this is the toughest game on Ohio State’s schedule. Much like 2015, this matchup will ultimately decide who wins the East division and plays in the B1G title game. Considering that the Buckeyes cannot play for a championship of any kind without a “W” in this contest, it’s clearly the most important game on the schedule.

 

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