Ohio State and the Big Ten announced the conference-only 2020 schedule on Wednesday, less than a month before the season will start.
— 🏈LastWordOnCFB🏈 (@LastWordOnCFB) August 5, 2020
This is an unusual year in sports. There are some nuances in the schedule that will only apply to this season.
Ohio State hasn’t played in a ten-game regular season since 1973, and they have never had a conference-only schedule. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime schedule.
There are five things that stand out about the revised Ohio State schedule.
Five Observations on the Ohio State Schedule
“The Game” is Now in October
Most Ohio State fans probably look at the bottom in search of “the game” against that team up north.
The Michigan game, which has been the last game in November since 1933, is now in October.
Rivalry Week in the Big Ten has been taken away. Wisconsin plays Minnesota in Week 4. Iowa plays Nebraska the same day. Illinois and Northwestern match up in Week 7.
The weekend of November 27th, the original date of Rivalry Week this season, is now open. So Ohio State’s last regular-season game will be against Iowa on November 21st.
Iowa has more wins against Ohio State since 2004, so this might be a more even matchup. With the 2017 loss still fresh in Ohio State fans’ memories, a win against Iowa will still be satisfying.
Opportunity for Makeup Games Later in the Schedule
The Big Ten left one week open in between the last regular-season game and the conference championship. Presumably, this was done in case games had to be canceled. There are also two bye weeks, so a game could potentially be rescheduled during one of those.
The game most in danger of being canceled right now is the one against the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has handled COVID-19 about as badly as possible. There were 28 people in the football program that tested positive as of August 5th. They experienced a surge of cases after some players attended a party.
If Rutgers doesn’t get the football program under control, then their September 12th game in Columbus is in danger of cancelation.
If that happens, then the game could be moved to Week 13.
Ohio State Will Likely Be Heavy Favorites in Every Game
Ohio State canceled their trip to Eugene, Oregon, which was a huge blow to the strength of schedule.
Ohio State somehow missed the two toughest West Division teams, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They will play Iowa, but that is going to be a favorable matchup, as will be explained below.
Other than Iowa, Ohio State’s toughest non-division games will be at Illinois on September 3rd to open the season and at Purdue on September 19th. Those West Division opponents had a combined 16-19 conference record last season.
The Buckeyes’ only challenging games within their division will be against Michigan and Penn State. Even still, Ohio State will likely be favorites in both.
It’s not just possible that Ohio State will be undefeated in conference play; that will be the expectation.
The Dreaded Iowa Game
Over the last three seasons, Ohio State has suffered devastating losses to inferior teams in the West Division.
Iowa and Purdue are the two teams that Ohio State usually stumbles over. This year, Ohio State plays them both.
This season, the Big Ten made Iowa as easy an opponent as possible.
First of all, the Buckeyes have a bye week before the November 21st matchup. They have two weeks to prepare for the Hawkeyes. Meanwhile, Iowa hosts Wisconsin on November 14th. Playing Wisconsin and Ohio State back-to-back will give Iowa the hardest two-week stretch.
Second of all, the game is Columbus, so the Buckeyes won’t have the pink locker room to worry about.
There Are No Difficult Stretches in the Schedule
Pretty much every opponent that can threaten Ohio State is sandwiched in between a bye week.
The only games in which Ohio State does not have exceptionally high chances of winning are Michigan and Penn State.
The Buckeyes play a weakened Michigan State the week before they play Michigan. Then they play Maryland, followed by Penn State. Then there’s the bye week before the Iowa game, and those are Ohio State’s three winningest opponents from last year.
Sometimes it seems like Ohio State plays all their tough games right after another. That’s not the case this year. The Buckeyes should have a chance to catch their breath between their toughest games.
There should be no trap games this year.