Ohio State football: 10 things to know about Big Ten schedule

Ohio State’s Justin Fields runs for a touchdown against Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff
Ohio State’s Justin Fields runs for a touchdown against Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

Season begins on a Thursday for OSU

Entering this week, the Ohio State Buckeyes knew who they will play on Aug. 30, 2031 — Georgia — but did not know much about the 2020 schedule or even whether there would be one.

The Big Ten released a 10-game conference schedule Wednesday, answering a few questions but not the big one: Will there be a season at all?

“It would be purely speculation for me to sit here today and say this is what percent I think we’ll have a season,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said on the Big Ten Network. “I know from my standpoint, I’m taking this entire process, this entire journey, on a day-to-day basis. I’m staying focused, staying prayerful to do the right thing. I look forward to one day being able to turn around and say we did everything we could in the Big Ten to keep our student-athlete’s health and safe both physically and mentally during this journey and we learned a lot during this process and we created an environment that they know is safe for them to compete in intercollegiate athletics.”

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Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said a final decision on the season will be made in the coming weeks after consultation with local, state and federal authorities.

“This is not a final decision that there will be an athletics season,” Smith said of the schedule release. “It is the next phase in our responsible planning process with the Big Ten Conference to be prepared if we are able to have an athletics season.”

If the season takes place, it will start on a Thursday for Ohio State. Here are 10 things to know about the schedule:

1. The opener: Ohio State begins the season Sept. 3 at Illinois. This will be the fourth time in school history the Buckeyes have opened on a Thursday, following home games in 1997 against Wyoming and Marshall in 2010 and a road game in 2017 against Indiana.

Ohio State has won nine straight games, all by double digits, in the series against the Illini.

Although the Big Ten plans to start the season Sept. 3, with most teams opening Sept. 5, it also created a schedule with flexibility, allowing it to move the start of the season back to Sept. 12, 19 or 26.

2. Safety protocols: Players, coaches and staff members will undergo two COVID-19 tests per week. That’s the rule throughout the Big Ten for full-contact sports.

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3. Home opener: Ohio State plays Rutgers in the second game of the season on Sept. 12 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes are 6-0 against Rutgers since it joined the conference, and the 56-21 score last season was the closest game in the series.

4. Extra game: The only Ohio State opponent that wasn’t on the original Big Ten Schedule is Purdue. The Buckeyes will play in West Lafayette, Ind., in their third game Sept. 19.

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5. Winning streaks: Ohio State plays Indiana on Sept. 26 in Columbus in the fourth game of the season. The Buckeyes have won 24 straight games in the series.

Two weeks later, after the first open date, Ohio State plays a home game Oct. 10 against Nebraska. The Buckeyes have won five in a row in the series.

6. Open dates: The Buckeyes do not have games scheduled Oct. 3 or Nov. 14.

The Big Ten announced “each school has two off or open weekends that can possibly be used as make-up dates for games that are postponed during the season because of circumstances caused by the pandemic.”

7. New coach: The Buckeyes play at Michigan State on Oct. 17. Ohio State has won four straight games in the series. This will be the first season for Mel Tucker, who was hired when Mark Dantonio stepped down in February.

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8. The Game: Ohio State will play Michigan on Oct. 24 instead of Nov. 28. It will end a streak of 77 consecutive years in which the teams have played in the final regular-season game. The Buckeyes have won eight straight games in the series.

9. Senior Day: After road games at Maryland (Oct. 31) and Penn State (Nov. 7) and the second open date (Nov. 14), the Buckeyes close the regular season Nov. 21 against Iowa at Ohio Stadium.

10. Postseason plans: The Big Ten championship game will be played Dec. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis but could be moved to a date as late as Dec. 19. Ohio State has won the last three title games.

Ohio State’s 2020 Football Schedule

Sept. 3: at Illinois

Sept. 12: Rutgers

Sept. 19: at Purdue

Sept. 26: Indiana

Oct. 3: Open

Oct. 10: Nebraska

Oct. 17: at Michigan State

Oct. 24: Michigan

Oct. 31: at Maryland

Nov. 7: at Penn State

Nov. 14: Open

Nov. 21: Iowa

Dec. 5: Big Ten Championship game