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Four takeaways from Buckeyes new Big Ten schedule

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Ohio State officially has its Big Ten schedule. (Spencer Holbrook/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Four takeaways from Buckeyes new Big Ten schedule

COLUMBUS — Ohio State is already gearing up for its newly-revived season.

After receiving the good news that the fall football season is back after being canceled, the Buckeyes have new life. An eight-game regular season and a conference title game are on the slate beginning Oct. 24.

And the chance to play for a national title is back in the fold after being taken away by the Big Ten just a month ago. Ohio State is thrilled to be back on the field, and the Buckeyes are already getting to work, making sure they’re ready when the slate kicks off in a little more than four weeks.

“We do have a mature group, so we’re expecting this thing to ramp up real fast,” Day said. “You’re going to see a different look. People are going to be walking down the hallways different. They’re going to be bouncing around on the field different.

“It just has a totally different look to it when you’re playing for something.”

And they will be playing for something. But to get where they want to go, the Buckeyes have to survive their all-Big Ten schedule. Lettermen Row is breaking down the third different schedule Ohio State has had in the last four months, where the trickiest games are, who could give the Buckeyes problems and more.

The Game moved back where it belongs

The most important game on the Ohio State schedule is back where it belongs.

The Buckeyes will host rival Michigan on Dec. 12, the first time in The Game’s history that it will be played in December. But that’s when this game should be played — at the end of the schedule. The second version, the one that was released in August and featured 10 conference games, had the Buckeyes hosting the Wolverines on Oct. 24. That just didn’t feel right.

Neither does having Ohio State and Michigan square off in December, but if that’s when the last week of the regular season is, then that’s when the two rivals should meet. And it will certainly make for a nice season-ending Big Noon Kickoff on FOX.

10/24/20NEBRASKAOhio Stadium12pFOXW, 52-17
10/31/20at Penn StateState College7:30PABC
11/7/20RUTGERSOhio Stadium7:30PBTN
11/14/20at MarylandCollege ParkTBATBA
11/21/20INDIANAOhio StadiumTBATBA
11/28/20at IllinoisUrbana-ChampaignTBATBA
12/5/20at Michigan St.East LansingTBATBA
12/12/20MICHIGANOhio Stadium12pFOX
12/19/20Big Ten ChampionshipIndianapolisTBATBA

Do Buckeyes have trap game on new schedule?

At first glance, the Ohio State schedule is easy. Road games at Illinois and Maryland aren’t exactly tough trips to make, although the Buckeyes have had a bit of trouble at both sites in the past. A trap game just isn’t on this schedule. But if there is a game that could be difficult for the Buckeyes that may catch them off guard, it could be the Dec. 5 trip to Michigan State.

No, Mel Tucker and the Spartans won’t be a contender this season. But Tucker will certainly have his team motivated to pull off an upset, and the Buckeyes will be coming off this stretch: Rutgers, at Maryland, Indiana, at Illinois. Those are four straight should-be blowout wins for the Buckeyes. If they sleepwalk into East Lansing the week before the rivalry game, maybe the Spartans becomes the trickiest opponent on the schedule.

Pete Werner-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State shut Penn State down last season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Big Ten East title tilt comes early

The toughest game on the Ohio State schedule comes early. After a season-opening matchup with Nebraska, the Buckeyes will travel to State College for a de facto Big Ten East Division title game. Penn State brings back its starting quarterback, running back and plenty of other weapons to a team that hung with the Buckeyes for three quarters last season and pushed them for four quarters in the two years prior.

This game would have been the Nittany Lions “White Out” game if crowds were allowed this season, so the Buckeyes catch a break with no audience inside Beaver Stadium. The toughest test of the regular season comes early this year for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will be ready for the Halloween matchup with Penn State.

No built-in flexibility for Big Ten

In the 10-game schedule that was released in August, the Big Ten built in three off weeks for each school, making a collapsable scheduling model that could accommodate for cancelations and postponement. The new schedule has zero room for postponed games. Ohio State will play eight games in eight weeks before presumably heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game on Dec. 19.

That’s the way it had to be for the Big Ten after it canceled its original 10-game season and waited too long to reinstate it. If the league wants a member in the College Football Playoff, a nine-game resume will likely get the job done. But if games get canceled, the league is playing with fire by having no built-in flexibility in an uncertain season.

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Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.