Plenty of possible landmines are on the Buckeyes' schedule
Over the last two seasons, Ohio State has had a successful run. Two Big Ten championships, two bowl wins, and an overall record of 25-3. Most programs across the country would be tremendously satisfied with those results.
Ohio State is not "most programs." If anything, Ohio State fans have been wanting more, with the Buckeyes on the outside looking in at the College Football Program after each of the past two seasons.
Enter Ryan Day. Urban Meyer, the mastermind of the Ohio State football program since the 2012 season, has departed the sidelines for the comforts of a television studio analyst job, and Day has been tasked with keeping the Buckeyes perched atop the Big Ten, with the expectation that Ohio State can once again be a national championship contender.
The tasks for Day are daunting, but not insurmountable. Meyer has not left the cupboard bare for Day, as the Buckeyes return a roster that is comparable in depth and quality with among the best in college football, and that includes contenders such as Clemson and Alabama.
The schedule has its share of challenges. Ohio State has a non-conference schedule featuring Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, and Miami (Ohio), which will allow the Buckeyes an opportunity to gain experience and confidence prior to what projects as an imposing conference schedule with games at Nebraska, at Northwestern, and of course, at "That Team Up North." Home games include one under the lights vs. Michigan State, a team that has provided Ohio State fans anxious moments throughout the years, a persistently physical opponent in Wisconsin, and a Penn State program that has been on the cusp of defeating the Buckeyes over the past two seasons.
Athlon asked a few editors and one of its college football contributors to share their realistic win/loss projection for Ohio State in 2019.
Ohio State Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2019
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Ryan Day steps into one of the best situations in college football for any new coach. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, and Georgia transfer Justin Fields is primed for a breakout year under center. Of course, the talent level and success under Urban Meyer – especially against Michigan – has Day facing high expectations in 2019 and beyond. Day should prove to be an excellent hire for Ohio State and will get off to a fast start. The Buckeyes have more overall roster talent than Michigan, but the game is in Ann Arbor this fall. That might be the difference in a tight division race that isn’t likely to be decided until the last Saturday of action.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Ryan Day's first season as the head coach will have its challenges, but the guess here is that the Buckeyes will enter the finale against Michigan with an 11-0 record. It won't, however, be easy. Ohio State will play three of the top four teams in Big Ten West (according to Athlon Sports' predictions), with the Nebraska and Northwestern games on the road. The Buckeyes do get Penn State at home, but remember that the Nittany Lions held double-digit leads on OSU in the fourth quarter in each of the last two seasons. Assuming a win over Penn State, the trip to Ann Arbor will decide the Big Ten East race … and I'm going with Michigan. This is finally the year!
Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich)
Ohio State fans are an exacting bunch with their expectations, but I would be hard-pressed to find a Buckeye fan who could look at the 2019 schedule and believe this team will go undefeated. The Cincinnati game in week two is going to be more difficult than originally foreseen, but it will serve as good preparation for other challenges down the road in 2019. The week five game at Nebraska seems like the first probable loss for the Buckeyes, as Ohio State barely escaped the Cornhuskers last year, and Scott Frost appears to have rejuvenated the program.
October will be arduous, as the Buckeyes face Michigan State, Northwestern (road), and Wisconsin, but they will be expected to win all of those games as they prepare for the crucial November stretch run. Penn State will be tough at the end of November, but the Ohio Stadium crowd will give the Buckeyes the edge in their home finale. THE GAME is classified as a one-game season, and the pressure is squarely on Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines to finally get a win in this rivalry. I predict Ohio State will still have Michigan's number, no matter that the contest is in Ann Arbor. I like Ohio State to win the Big Ten East and get a rematch with Nebraska for the conference title in Indianapolis.