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Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' 2020 Schedule Analysis

Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' 2020 Schedule Analysis

Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' 2020 Schedule Analysis

The Ohio State Buckeyes, fresh off their third consecutive Big Ten championship and a return to the College Football Playoff, are popular favorites to contend for the national title in 2020. Even with significant talent departures to the NFL, Ryan Day has a roster that is capable of winning it all.

The upcoming 2020 college football schedule has its share of challenges for the Buckeyes. While many of the big games for Ohio State will be in Columbus, concerns loom on several road trips, namely week two.

Ohio State Buckeyes 2020 Schedule

Bye: Week 5

Week 1 — Sept. 5 vs. Bowling Green (Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State has had their way with Bowling Green over the years, and this game should be no exception. While Bowling Green is improving, the home team should be able to liberally substitute from the beginning of the second half onward in this one. The opener could be an excellent opportunity for fans to see either C.J. Stroud or Jack Miller, two prominent freshmen quarterbacks who could follow Justin Fields as the Buckeyes' starter in 2021.

Week 2 — Sept. 12 at Oregon (Eugene, Ore.)

This game looms large for both teams and is one of the most anticipated games of the entire season. Ohio State and Oregon will meet up again for the first time since the Buckeyes knocked off the Ducks in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game to end the 2014-15 season. Ohio State is 9-0 all-time against Oregon, and this will mark the Buckeyes' first trip to Eugene since 1967. The Ducks are a popular pick to repeat as Pac-12 champs and they can make an early statement (for them and their conference) with a win over Ohio State.

Week 3 — Sept. 19 vs. Buffalo (Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State returns home to face another MAC opponent in Buffalo. These two teams last met in 2013, a 40-20 Buckeyes win. The Bulls are coming off of an 8-5 season that included a 31-9 victory over Charlotte in the Makers Wanted Bahama Bowl. While Buffalo may give it their best effort, look for Ohio State to have things well in hand by the end of the first half.

Week 4 — Sept. 26 vs. Rutgers (Columbus, Ohio)

An old familiar face is going to be at the helm for the Scarlet Knights when they return to Columbus - Greg Schiano. The Buckeyes' defensive coordinator from 2016-18, Schiano is beginning to lay the foundation to make Rutgers more competitive but Ohio State should be able to take care of the Scarlet Knights in its Big Ten opener.

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Week 6 — Oct. 10 vs. Iowa (Columbus, Ohio)

There is an old expression about how revenge is a dish best served cold. While October can sometimes be comfortable with the weather, Ohio State has been waiting for this game ever since the Hawkeyes completely dismantled the Buckeyes 55-24 in 2017, ruining Ohio State's College Football Playoff hopes. Iowa should be in contention for The Big Ten West title and has played the Buckeyes very tough in Ohio Stadium through the years. Ohio State will be coming off of a bye week while the Hawkeyes will have hosted Michigan State the previous week.

Week 7 — Oct. 17 at Michigan State (East Lansing, Mich.)

Ohio State has had its way with the Spartans over the last few seasons, but new head coach Mel Tucker, a former Buckeyes assistant under Jim Tressel, was hired to do something about that. Michigan State may not be able to keep pace with Ohio State this season but no one would be surprised if this game is closer than expected.

Week 8 — Oct. 24 at Penn State (University Park, Pa.)

Ohio State's last two trips to Happy Valley have been close – a one-point Buckeyes win in 2018, a three-point Penn State victory in '16. The visitors will probably have to endure "White Out" conditions in Beaver Stadium for this game, which could be pivotal in how both the Big Ten and College Football Playoff picture ends up looking. James Franklin has put together a roster that is comparable in talent to the Buckeyes, including several players Ohio State also heavily recruited over the last few years. While it has not been announced as a prime-time affair, it will be quite the surprise if this game isn't played under the lights. The winner of this game is likely in the driver's seat to win the Big Ten East.

Week 9 — Oct. 31 vs. Nebraska (Columbus, Ohio)

Halloween in Ohio Stadium could be more treat than trick for the Buckeyes against Nebraska, as Ohio State has been dominant over the Cornhuskers through the years. Scott Frost's team nearly pulled off the upset the last time Nebraska visited Ohio Stadium in 2018, with the Buckeyes ultimately prevailing, 36-31. The Huskers will come into this game after a road trip to Rutgers, while the Buckeyes may be physically and psychologically spent after its showdown in Happy Valley against Penn State the week prior.

Week 10 — Nov. 7 vs. Indiana (Columbus, Ohio)

The traditional thorn in the side of Ohio State when it comes to games that are more challenging than they appear on paper, Indiana will be looking for its first win in Ohio Stadium in more than 30 years (Oct. 10, 1987). Tom Allen has made Indiana into a competitive team within the Big Ten East and should have the Hoosiers in this game well into the second half, but the Buckeyes' talent should help them take control by no later than the start of the fourth quarter.

Week 11 — Nov. 14 at Maryland (College Park, Md.)

Two years ago, Maryland let an upset win slip through its fingers with an errant two-point conversion attempt, allowing Ohio State to escape with a 52-51 overtime victory. Last season, Ryan Day decided to "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war" in a 73-14 bludgeoning in Columbus. The Buckeyes should have little trouble taking care of the Terrapins on their home turf.

Week 12 — Nov. 21 at Illinois (Champaign, Ill.)

Ohio State will be making its first trip to Champaign since the 2015 season, which resulted in a 28-3 victory. Lovie Smith was able to get Illinois to a bowl game last season and seemingly has the program pointed in the right direction. But this matchup with the three-time defending Big Ten champs is just one of the reasons why a repeat of 2019's success will be a challenge for the Fighting Illini.

Week 13 — Nov. 28 vs. Michigan (Columbus, Ohio)

That Team Up North. THE GAME. Jim Harbaugh has not defeated Ohio State since he was hired in 2015, and doing so on the road seems a daunting task. The Wolverines should be in contention for the Big Ten East crown and the winner of this game could clinch a trip to Indianapolis. Ryan Day has already shown he understands the significance of this rivalry, so you know he wants to keep the Buckeyes' winning streak going.

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is writing and podcasting for www.theozone.net. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.