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Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' 2022 Schedule Analysis

Big Ten Football: Ohio State Buckeyes Football

"There's No Place Like Home" for the Buckeyes when it comes to the start of their 2022 season

Ryan Day enters his fourth year as Ohio State's head coach, and begins the 2022 season in unfamiliar territory. For the first time since the 2016 season, the Buckeyes will not begin the season as the reigning Big Ten champion. Even more importantly to Ohio State's legion of fans, the Buckeyes will be looking to redeem themselves by defeating their hated rivals, the Michigan Wolverines, after the latter won "THE GAME" for the first time since 2011.

Recognizing the need to reinvigorate the program, Day brought in several new coaches for the 2022 season. Justin Frye was hired as offensive line coach to reestablish the traditionally strong Ohio State running game. The secondary was overhauled with the additions of Tim Walton (cornerbacks coach) and Perry Eliano (safeties coach). And while Frye, Walton, and Eliano are significant hires, none loom larger than Jim Knowles, who was hired as the new defensive coordinator. Knowles also will coach linebackers.

While several new coaches will be patrolling the sidelines for the Buckeyes, the roster is full of many experienced players. Redshirt sophomore C.J. Stroud will again pilot one of the best offenses in the nation, aided by sophomore running back TreVeyon Henderson and junior wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Defensively, senior end Zach Harrison will be counted on to generate the pass rush for the Buckeyes, while Cameron Brown and Ronnie Hickman are among the returnees in a revamped secondary.

Related: 3 Reasons for Optimism About the Buckeyes in 2022

Ohio State has concluded its spring practices, so all eyes now turn toward the upcoming 2022 season. Upon first glance, the Ohio State schedule is challenging, but has several favorable aspects, starting with the first five games being played at home. Below is a quick review of what awaits the Buckeyes when they return to the field this fall.

Ohio State Buckeyes' 2022 Schedule

Bye: Week 7

Week 1 - Sept. 3 vs. Notre Dame (Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State fans are always excited for the season opener, but this one truly classifies as something special. For the first time since 1995, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will travel to Ohio Stadium. Ohio State has won the past four meetings to take a 4-2 lead in the head-to-head series. The two most recent took place in the Fiesta Bowl to end the 2005 (34-20) and '15 (44-28) seasons. The Buckeyes also won both parts of a home-and-home series with Notre Dame in 1995 (45-26 in Columbus) and '96 (29-16 in South Bend).

Notre Dame will be coming into this game with a face and name familiar to Ohio State fans, with former Buckeye linebacker Marcus Freeman as the head coach of the Fighting Irish. Two tradition-laden programs, kicking off the 2022 season  the hype for this game will be something else. As of this writing, no kickoff time has been established, but there is strong speculation that this could be a night game.

Week 2 - Sept. 10 vs. Arkansas State (Columbus, Ohio)

This will be Ohio State's first-ever matchup against Arkansas State from the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves are coming off a challenging 2021 season that saw them go 2-10. While Arkansas State may improve this game will fall under the aforementioned favorable aspects for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes will be heavy favorites in this one.

Week 3 - Sept. 17 vs. Toledo (Columbus, Ohio)

In-state rival Toledo make the trip to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 2011, when the Buckeyes held off the upset-minded Rockets, 27-22. Toledo should contend for the Mid-American Conference in 2022 but Ohio State will be heavily favored to win this game, just as the Buckeyes have won the previous three meetings by a combined score of 114-22.

Week 4 - Sept. 24 vs. Wisconsin (Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State will kick off Big Ten play by welcoming long-time rival Wisconsin to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 2019. The Badgers are coming off of a 9-4 season that saw them finish second in the West Division but end the campaign with a win over Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Wisconsin's style of physical play is always arduous, and the pressure will be on Ohio State to avoid losing to the Badgers at home for the first time since the 2004 season (24-13).

Week 5 - Oct. 1 vs. Rutgers (Columbus, Ohio)

Ohio State will conclude its five-game homestand with a visit from Rutgers to begin the month of October. The Scarlet Knights are improving under Greg Schiano and could win enough games to be bowl eligible this season. The Buckeyes have yet to lose to Rutgers since the school joined The Big Ten in 2014. On top of that, Ohio State has put up at least 49 points in every game against the Scarlet Knights, so expect the home team to once again be a strong favorite in this contest.

Week 6 - Oct. 8 at Michigan State (East Lansing, Mich.)

For the first time in the 2022 season, Ohio State will venture out from the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium, when they travel to East Lansing for a game versus Michigan State. Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker did a remarkable job with the Spartans in 2021, as Michigan State improved from a 2-5 COVID-impacted 2020 season to an 11-2 season in 2021, culminated with a 31-21 win over Pittsburgh in The Peach Bowl. Michigan State will be tasked with replacing several of their key contributors on the 2021 squad, but Mel Tucker will be reminding his players of the 56-7 thrashing they received in 2021 at Ohio State prior to this game kicking off for play.

Week 8 - Oct. 22 vs. Iowa (Columbus, Ohio)

It will be interesting to see if revenge plays a big part in the build-up for this game, as Ohio State has not played Iowa since 2017, when the Buckeyes were soundly beaten on the road, 56-27. The Hawkeyes are the defending Big Ten West champions and went 10-4 overall. Like the Buckeyes, Iowa also has a bye prior to this game. The Hawkeyes' traditional physical play should make this game very challenging for Ohio State on both sides of the ball.

Week 9 - Oct. 29 at Penn State (University Park, Pa.)

The Buckeyes have defeated Penn State five straight times but no Ohio State fan (or player hopefully) looks at a trip to Happy Valley as an easy affair. Beaver Stadium is among the noisiest and most difficult places to play in all of college football, and that does not even account for the possibility of a "white out" if the game is at night. While the Buckeyes have several formidable opponents on the 2022 slate, the setting for this game helps make a case for it being the toughest of the season.

Week 10 - Nov. 5 at Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.)

After winning the Big Ten West in 2020, Northwestern struggled both offensively and defensively last fall, finishing 3-9. Pat Fitzgerald has gotten the most out of his Wildcats before and has enjoyed plenty of success during his tenure there, but look for the road team to be favored heavily as Ohio State begins its stretch run as the Buckeyes look to reclaim the division crown and get back to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Week 11- Nov. 12 vs. Indiana (Columbus, Ohio)

Similar to Northwestern, Indiana is coming off a disappointing 2021 season, as the Hoosiers went from Big East contenders in 2020 to the basement, going 2-10 overall. Indiana will be trying to get back to a bowl game under Tom Allen, but Ohio State should have too much for the Hoosiers to keep pace in this divisional contest.

Week 12 - Nov. 19 at Maryland (College Park, Md.)

Ohio State has defeated Maryland in every contest since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014. But the Terrapins came oh-so-close to knocking off the Buckeyes in 2018, losing 52-51 on a failed attempt at a game-winning two-point conversion in overtime. That also was the last time Ohio State made the trip to College Park (2020 game was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns), so the Buckeyes better be ready to play and can't afford to look ahead to the next game, which is...

Week 13 - Nov. 26 vs. Michigan (Columbus, Ohio)

That Team Up North. THE GAME. All of the games that precede this one are important, but none are bigger. Legendary Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes once stated, "There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." With that mantra in mind from the 42-27 defeat in 2021, Ohio State's coaches, players, and fans have a pristine hue over them and would like nothing more than to return the favor to their hated rivals in the final game of the 2022 regular season that very well could determine which team wins the Big Ten East. The Buckeyes have not lost at home to the Wolverines since 2000, and Ryan Day does not want to be responsible for yet another Michigan-related streak ending on his watch.

Podcast: Takeaways From Spring Games at Auburn, Texas A&M and Clemson, Transfer News, Early Spreads, and Looking Back at the Memorable 1998 Season

— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He also is podcasting for Buckeye Scoop. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.