Ohio State’s future football schedules have been a bit confusing as the Big Ten has gone from a nine-game slate back to an eight-game slate to a return to a nine-game schedule after the most recent round of expansion, but things are starting to become more clear.
Just two weeks after the release of the 2014 schedule, the Big Ten put out the league’s 2015 schedules Monday morning. That season will be the last before conference slates extend to nine games per team in 2016.
Ohio State will play the same teams in ’15 as it will in 2014, missing Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. It will be the sixth season of seven in which Ohio State will not play Northwestern and the third in a row it will not play Nebraska, the latter fact of which might somewhat annoy OSU athletics director Gene Smith.
In a recent interview with BSB, Smith said he hopes the upcoming nine-game schedules and geographic realignment will allow the Big Ten to prevent scenarios that came up recently in which schools missed playing each other for four-year spans. In the pre-expansion schedules, OSU was not scheduled to play the Cornhuskers from 2013-16.
“We had those situations where student-athletes would miss a team for four years in a row,” he said. “It happened with us and Northwestern (from 2009-12), and I think we’re getting ready to go on a run with Nebraska where we would miss them four years in a row. Now how does that happen? Ohio State and Nebraska? You have to have that. So anyway, we’ve solved that problem.”
The current 2015 schedule for Ohio State, which includes the Buckeyes' first Big Ten trip to Rutgers and Maryland's initial visit to Ohio Stadium, follows.
Sept. 5 – Open
Sept. 12 – Northern Illinois
Sept. 19 – at Virginia Tech
Sept. 26 – Open
Oct. 3 – at Indiana
Oct. 10 – Maryland
Oct. 17 – Penn State
Oct. 24 – at Rutgers
Oct. 31 – Open
Nov. 7 – Minnesota
Nov. 14 – at Illinois
Nov. 21 – Michigan State
Nov. 28 – at Michigan
Dec. 5 – Big Ten Championship Game
The Buckeyes will have to fill the two missing nonconference games with home contests in order to make sure the team has seven home games.
Ohio State was to open the 2015 season with North Carolina at home, but that game has been moved to 2018.
The 2016 slate includes four nonconference games vs. Bowling Green, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Central Michigan, so something will have to give there as well.
It’s an interesting puzzle that Smith has to fill, but it’s something he’s ready to attack now that a recent moratorium on nonconference scheduling has been lifted since the Big Ten settled its own house.
“That moratorium is lifted so we have our out years where we have Oklahoma, North Carolina, Texas, Oregon, TCU, Boston College, so now we’re trying to fill around those, which is not easy,” Smith said.
“Because all of our open dates, we need home games, so we’re out trying to find the right type of schools that we can get. We’re going to play MAC schools periodically, but we’re also trying to change that a little bit, working with Big 12 schools, ACC schools. We’re working with some Pac-12 schools, but it’s hard to get them to come here one time. We pulled it off with Colorado, which was unique, but we’re trying it.”
The schedules page on BuckeyeSports.com has been updated to reflect these changes.