Ohio State football: Breaking down the rest of Buckeyes’ schedule

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day sounded subtle warnings throughout the preseason about the work his team needed to put in before it could claim to be a contender.

The first month of games proved him right.

The schedule-maker did not give Ohio State’s young lineup the layups that begin many seasons, and the result was a rocky path to 4-1.

That included a loss to Oregon and not-so-easy wins over Minnesota and Tulsa that started talk about someone else being the favorite in the Big Ten this season.

But the Buckeyes crushed overmatched Akron two weeks ago, and they demolished improving Rutgers last Saturday as several teams ranked ahead of them suffered defats.

Looking ahead, Day confirmed he was happy to have a pair of Big Ten road wins in his pocket as the Buckeyes get ready for their last game of the first half of the season, a visit from Maryland this Saturday.

“It’s good to get those two wins for sure,” Day said. “With a young team and the way the schedule played out, it was what it was. We had to handle it, (but) it made us stronger. It has.

“Going on the road (to start the season) and handling a loss the second game of the year and those type of things has made us stronger, and we can continue to build on this, and that’s been the whole goal.

Here’s a look at the rest of the schedule and what challenges lie ahead:

Maryland (3-1), Saturday, noon

The Terrapins were trending toward tough-looking with a 4-0 September and a high-flying offense, but Iowa brought them back to Earth in a big way Friday night. A potential coming out party for the Terrapins and quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa turned into a nightmare as he threw five interceptions and the Hawkeyes did whatever they wanted on offense.

They are still ranked No. 21 in ESPN’s SP+ (an advanced metric that combines play-by-play success and big-play ability) with playmakers on offense and a speedy defense that gives them a puncher’s chance.

At Indiana (2-3), Oct. 23, TBA

The Hoosiers entered the season looking like they might be one of the best teams on Ohio State’s schedule. At this point, they look like the worst of the last seven teams the Buckeyes will play. Iowa and Penn State outscored Indiana by a combined score of 54-6, and the Hoosiers have been unable to do anything on offense.

Penn State (5-0), Oct. 30, TBA

The Nittany Lions are No. 6 in SP+ with the No. 23 offense and No. 5 defense. Per traditional stats, Penn State has struggled to run the ball but developed an explosive passing offense under former Ohio State assistant Mike Yurcich, who is in his first year in Happy Valley. Defensively, they’ve let teams move the ball but played great in the red zone.

At Nebraska (3-3), Nov. 6, TBA

The Cornhuskers are hard to figure out. All three of their losses are by eight points or less, and they are No. 22 in the nation in SP+ with the No. 34 offense and No. 20 defense. Traditional stats show them being able to move the ball but struggle to finish drives on offense while the defense has the opposite profile.

Purdue (3-2), Nov. 13, TBA

The Boilermakers are No. 54 in SP+ with the 62nd offense and 39th-ranked defense. Traditional stats show this being a classic all-pass, no-run offense paired with a defense that has been solid against the run and the pass.

Michigan State (5-0), Nov. 20, TBA

The Spartans haven’t played anyone, but they are undefeated in year two under former Ohio State defensive assistant Mel Tucker. They have a star running back in Kenneth Walker III but have struggled to stop the pass.

At Michigan (5-0), Nov. 27

After holding off Rutgers, the Wolverines poured it on against fading Wisconsin last week to continue building momentum in what looks like a bounce-back season for coach Jim Harbaugh. His team has run the ball well this season but has major questions in the passing game. The defense looks good both in terms of traditional numbers and advanced stats, so this is shaping up to be another classic edition of The Game.


Maryland at Ohio State, Noon, Fox, 1410

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