On Thursday the Big Ten officially announced that the conference will be moving to a nine-game conference schedule starting in 2017.
Big Ten Announces New Nine-Game Conference Schedule Starting in 2017
By Tony Gerdeman
Because of the odd number of conference games, teams will have five home games one year (with four road games), and five road games the next (with four home games).
Ohio State will have their five home game schedule in odd years, and will then play five conference road games in even years.
Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana will join Ohio State by having their home-heavy schedule in odd years, while Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin will have theirs in even years.
This will be the first time Big Ten teams have played nine conference games since 1984.
Because schools have built their football schedules out so far in advance, the Big Ten had to give schools enough time to structure their schedule in such a way that they can schedule enough home games during the years where they will be playing five conference road games.
At Ohio State, and most other universities, football pays for so many other athletic programs, that they can't really afford to schedule any other road games during the years where they will already be playing five conference road games.
This may force Ohio State to alter their scheduled series with Tennessee in 2018 and 2019. Currently, the Buckeyes are set to travel to Knoxville in 2018, but it may not be economically advisable to ever play six road games.
When contacted about this very issue, Ohio State replied that they are aware of some of the situations that the move to a nine-game conference schedule presents, and they will be looking into what their options are moving forward.
The easiest option would be a simple switch of where and in which year the game is played. Instead of playing in Knoxville in 2018, the game would be played in Columbus. Then in 2019, the Buckeyes would travel to Knoxville.
There is still plenty of time to iron out the issues, and Ohio State didn't seem too worried about getting it done.
As things stand now, if you are looking for a favorable home ticket, look no further than 2017. Not only will the Buckeyes have five conference home games, but the Oklahoma Sooners will be in town as well.
Georgia is on the schedule for 2020 and 2021, though the sites are currently listed as "to be announced", but with Thursday's announcement, it would appear that Ohio State would travel to Georgia in 2021 and the Bulldogs would travel to Columbus in 2020 in order to give Ohio State the necessary amount of home games.
While there may still be some question as to where these games will be, there is no question Ohio State will continue to seek these marquee games.
"Non-conference scheduling is becoming more and more challenging each year, but we will not change our philosophy," said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith.
"We will continue to focus on playing FBS programs while creating some home-and-home contests.”
What this likely means is that the University will continue to seek spotlight games, but the only non-conference road games they will be scheduling are the home and homes with those marquee teams.
That may sound bad, but it's actually not a huge change from the current practices.
Recently, Ohio State has tried to get two BCS non-conference opponents on the schedule each year, but that will likely be ending since they will be adding another BCS opponent via their conference schedule.
Even though they will likely be dropping that second BCS opponent, their strength of schedule should go up when you consider that they are replacing that game with one against Nebraska or Iowa or Michigan State, etc.
Here are the future non-conference opponents that Ohio State currently has scheduled:
2012 - Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati, California, UAB
2013 - Vanderbilt, at California
2014 - Navy (at Baltimore), Cincinnati, Kent State, Virginia Tech
2015 - Northern Illinois, at Virginia Tech
2016 - at Oklahoma
2017 - Oklahoma
2018 - at Tennessee
2019 - Tennessee
2020 - Georgia (TBA)
2021 - Georgia (TBA)
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