Ohio State football: 5 things to know about the 2023 schedule

The 2023 Ohio State football schedule should pose its share of challenges for Ryan Day’s Buckeyes.

Here are five things to know about the slate that begins with a trip to Indiana on Sept. 2:

1. Ohio State should be able to ease into things.

Starting the season on the road in the Big Ten is never a walk in the park, but at No. 64 in the SP+ projections, Indiana is the fourth-lowest rated Ohio State opponent.

Then comes a visit from Youngstown State (unranked as a member of the FCS) followed by another home game against No. 82 Western Kentucky, the second-lowest-rated team on the schedule.

That is probably preferable for Day, who will be breaking in a new quarterback and three new starters on the offensive line.

SP+ is an advanced metric that takes into account multiple factors including efficiency, explosiveness, recruiting and past results.

2. Each month has an obvious biggest challenge.

Things ramp up in Week 4 with a trip to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had a rough start to last season, but coach Marcus Freeman’s team righted itself as it went and is projected to be No. 15 in SP+ to start the season.

No. 5 Penn State comes to Columbus on Oct. 21, and then there is the trip to Michigan on Nov. 25. The Wolverines are projected to be No. 3.

3. There might be few cupcakes.

Eight of the 12 regular-season opponents are projected to be among the top 50 in the country with two in the top five and four in the top 25.

Aside from those already mentioned, that includes No. 41 Maryland, No. 25 Wisconsin, No. 47 Michigan State and No. 30 Minnesota.

The bottom-dwellers are YSU, WKU and No. 83 Rutgers.

4. Michigan has the only projected top 20 offense.

The Wolverines return a ton, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy and top running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, and added Stanford center Drake Nugent to steady an offensive line that graduated multiple starters but figures to remain a strength after years of struggling.

The next-best offense is Penn State at No. 21, a spot that could end up being low if new quarterback Drew Allar is as good as advertised. He will have a deep backfield to lean on, including super sophomore Nicholas Singleton, and an offensive line that returns highly regarded tackle Olu Fashanu.

Notre Dame, with Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman transferring in and should upgrade the position, is projected No. 25, but the Fighting Irish lost talented tight end Michael Mayer.

5. Five defenses could be top 25, including three in the top seven.

Michigan is also expected to have the best defense Ohio State faces, coming in at No. 4. Safety Rod Moore, a Northmont grad going into his third year as a starter, headlines the defense along with tackle Kris Jenkins.

One spot behind is Penn State at No. 5. The Nittany Lions lost star cornerback Joey Porter Jr., but Kalen King is the second-best returning player at that position in the country according to Pro Football Focus. James Franklin’s team also has the No. 3 end (Chop Robinson) and No. 8 linebacker (Abdul Carter) according to PFF.

Minnesota is a somewhat surprising seventh in defensive projections and returns second-team All-Big Ten safety Tyler Nubin.

Wisconsin (11th) and Notre Dame (15th) give Ohio State five potential top 15 defenses to square off against while Maryland is a sixth in the top 30 (at No. 30).

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