COLUMBUS — Simply being in the Big Ten East makes a schedule difficult.
Combine that with Ohio State’s annual marquee nonconference game, and the Buckeyes’ 2018 schedule is one of the best in the nation. Urban Meyer’s unknown status only adds to the intrigue.
Here is a look at the top five games of the season for Ohio State:
1. Michigan (Nov. 24): It’s the biggest game every season, and 2018 is no different. The stakes could be similar to 2006 and 2016 when the Wolverines travel to Ohio Stadium in late November. Michigan has one of the nation’s best defenses and an improved offense, led by quarterback Shea Patterson, could make the Wolverines a national title contender.
2. At Penn State (Sept. 29): Saquon Barkley is gone, and so is Mike Gesicki. But the Nittany Lions still have quarterback Trace McSorley and a boatload of talent. Ohio State has a history of struggling at Beaver Stadium, especially in white-out games. Imagine if Meyer gets a four-game suspension and this is his first game back. Buckle up.
3. At Michigan State (Nov. 10): The Spartans return an unheard of 21 of 22 starters from a 10-win team. They also get Ohio State and Michigan in East Lansing. This game has developed into a mini-rivalry during the Meyer era. Don’t expect the prize to be diminished this season.
4. At TCU (Sept. 15): The Week 3 contest against the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas, is a prime-time affair. This series was originally supposed to be a home-and-home until it was announced last year that the game would be a one-off at AT&T Stadium. TCU is expected to be one of the best teams in the Big 12, though it is breaking in a new quarterback. This game provides OSU an opportunity to flex its muscle early in the season. It also becomes exponentially tougher if Meyer isn’t on the sideline.
5. At Purdue (Oct. 20): An under-the-radar game that could give Ohio State some challenges. Playing on the road is never easy, and this is similar to Iowa last season, a situation where the Buckeyes might overlook the opponent. The Boilermakers were solid last season and should be even more improved. Their high-powered, quirky offense is always difficult to defend.
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