Preview 2016

Ohio State Football Schedule 2016: Ranking Toughest Opponents

Apr 16, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer leads the Scarlet and Gray teams onto the field prior to the spring game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 16, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer leads the Scarlet and Gray teams onto the field prior to the spring game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What are the toughest games on the Ohio State schedule? Ranked from easiest to hardest, here are how important each of the Buckeyes’ games are.

How will Ohio State football fare this season? The Buckeyes have a lot of work to do after losing a ton of talent to the NFL, and if that wasn’t hard enough, the schedule might not be much help.

12. Sept. 10 vs. Tulsa

At the very least, the defense will have to step it up a little bit against a dangerous Golden Hurricane attack. The Buckeyes can’t just sleepwalk through this.

11. Sept. 3 vs. Bowling Green

Just 120 miles apart, the two have only played each other four times. Urban Meyer’s first head coaching stop becomes the season opener, and it might be a bit of a fight if the defense isn’t ready to rock.

10. Oct. 1 vs. Rutgers

Ohio State is 2-0 vs. the Scarlet Knights by a combined score of 105-24. This one might not be a whole lot closer, considering the Buckeyes get a week off to rest up and prepare after the Oklahoma game. Former OSU defensive coordinator Chris Ash should have a wrinkle or two for his old coaching staff.

9. Oct. 29 vs. Northwestern

While a tougher test than others higher on the list, it’s at home – the Buckeyes should be able to handle this with a few good early drives. The last Northwestern win in Columbus: 1971.

8. Oct. 8 vs. Indiana

Ohio State hasn’t lost to Indiana since 1988 and hasn’t lost at home in the lopsided series since 1987. This should be a rested Buckeye team with its second home game in a row after getting a week off. It’ll need to get this win without a problem with two straight road games to follow.

7. Nov. 12 at Maryland

Ohio State had no problems making the layup over the last two years, putting up 101 points on the board in the only two meetings the schools have ever played. However, this time around it could be a problem on the road if the Buckeyes aren’t paying attention late in the regular season and looking ahead to Michigan State.

6. Nov. 5 vs. Nebraska

It’s only the fifth meeting ever between the two legendary programs and the first since a 63-38 Ohio State blasting in 2012. The first two games were in the mid-1950s, and OSU has a 3-1 record overall, but this could be a key home date against an inspired Husker team coming off a trip to Wisconsin.

5. Oct. 15 at Wisconsin

The last time America saw these two get together, Ohio State was making a wee bit of a statement in a 59-0 annihilation in the 2014 Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes have won four straight since their 12-game winning streak was busted in 2010 – their only loss of the season. This year, it’s the second road game of the season after hosting Rutgers and Indiana.

4. Oct. 22 at Penn State

Ohio State has won four in a row and six of the last seven, and didn’t have much of a problem last year in a 38-10 win. If the Buckeyes can get past this after going to Madison the week before, they should be on a Big Ten roll going into late November.

3. Sept. 17 at Oklahoma

Just the third time the two superpowers have ever played, Oklahoma won a classic in Columbus in 1977, and OSU won 24-14 early in 1983. It might be an overstatement to say the loser of this is out of the College Football Playoff hunt, but there might not be any margin of error, even with a conference championship.

2. Nov. 26 vs. Michigan

While this might be the important rivalry that matters to the base, Michigan has to win again for it to take the top spot on the Ohio State list. 2011 was the last Wolverine win, and the Buckeyes have won 11 of the last 12. The last Michigan win in Columbus? 2000 is a long, long time ago.

1. Nov. 19 at Michigan State

Yeah, Michigan, of course you’re still a really big deal – Ohio State can never lose that game – but Michigan State is just more important lately. This game decided the last three Big Ten championships, and with this year’s showdown in East Lansing, it should be one of the most energizing and emotional games of the Big Ten season.