In a perfect world, Ohio State and Northwestern wouldn’t be playing a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship Game on a Friday night.

After all, Friday nights should be reserved for high school players across the country.

When the Wildcats host the No. 4 Buckeyes under the lights at Ryan Field in Evanston, don’t expect the stadium of 47,130 to be filled. Getting to the venue for Wildcat and Buckeye fans — and Ohio State supporters will comprise the majority — will not be easy for those commuting from work through both rush hour and residential traffic around the stadium.

Back in 2017, Northwestern officials protested when the team was scheduled to play both a home and road tilt on a Friday night, with those matchups eventually being moved to Saturday. This time around, perhaps the Wildcats were looking forward to having more eyeballs on their program in a high-profile tilt with the game airing on Fox Sports 1.

However, the postponement of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees due to inclement weather moved the Buckeyes-Wildcats to the Big Ten Network.

Goodbye, all-important television ratings and increased program exposure.

Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald has been vocal about saving the Friday spotlight for prep players and coaches. Unfortunately, these are the times we live in. For major college conferences, filling time slots with new content to maximize revenue from television partners takes priority over anything else, including the fan experience on game day.

So if you’re planning on being in Evanston for the game on Friday evening, prepare accordingly. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your seat before kickoff, because getting into the stadium won’t be easy.

The last high-profile night matchup at Ryan Field occurred last November when Notre Dame visited. I was on the premises for that matchup and witnessed fans in the stadium’s entryways struggle to make their seats in time for the opening kickoff. Spectators were still arriving well into the first quarter.

The location of Ryan Field presents challenges any time there is a game, even when the ‘Cats have early kickoffs on Saturdays. Parking isn’t ample, and local traffic will be an issue as residents race to start their weekend. Until further renovation occurs, logistics will always be an issue. Having a high-profile game on a Friday night doesn’t help matters.

However, Northwestern can’t concern itself with kickoff time because it has a major chore to contend with on the field: Ryan Day’s balanced Buckeyes, who may be the most complete team in the country. Oh, and they just so happen to be coming off of an idle week.

One-time Georgia quarterback Justin Fields leads an offense that averages 534.5 yards per game, while Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison are co-coordinating a defense that is allowing just 234 yards per contest.

Hopefully fans attending the game are able to get to the stadium and into their seats on time for opening kickoff. Expect a sea of red and plenty of vocal Buckeye supporters, which won’t help the Wildcats’ cause. Not much is expected from Fitz’s team, which has not resembled the one that claimed the Big Ten West crown last year.

But perhaps the ‘Cats, who are still searching for their first conference win after three failed efforts, will be at their best under the Friday night lights. Despite the Buckeyes being favored by four touchdowns, Northwestern was also off last week. And Fitzgerald’s team gave unbeaten Wisconsin all it could handle earlier this season.

Northwestern has been stingy on defense, ranking No. 26 nationally in yards allowed (318.8 yards per game) behind redshirt junior linebacker Paddy Fisher and senior defensive end Joe Gaziano.

The real concern, though, is the team’s lack of offense. The Wildcats are averaging just 14.4 points per game, which ranks 128th in the country. Only Akron and Rutgers have worse numbers. The team’s only win was a 30-14 victory over UNLV, and Clemson transfer quarterback Hunter Johnson has not lived up to expectations in an offense that has too often looked vanilla and conservative.

On the year, Johnson has completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 367 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Junior Aidan Smith has also played, though he has connected on less than 50 percent of his throws for 273 yards with a score and four picks.

Simply put, the offense has been awful, with the only bright spot being redshirt freshman Drake Anderson, who has rushed for 366 yards and three touchdowns on 74 carries.

Ohio State is on a seven-game win streak against the Wildcats, with Northwestern’s last victory over the Buckeyes coming 15 years ago in Evanston. It’s a shame that this rematch of last year’s league title game doesn’t have the oomph it looked like it could carry back in the preseason.

The only way this could really work out for Fitz and crew is if they manage to play their very best game of the season and keep it close into the fourth quarter. That’s a very tall task, though Fitzgerald is 48-35-1 against the spread when his ‘Cats are underdogs.

Still, it’s tough to envision a scenario in which the Wildcats hang close enough to have a chance at some late-game heroics like we used to see from the Cardiac ‘Cats of the past. But, as the saying goes, that’s why they play the games — ones that should always be played on a Saturday.