As teams hit summer break and keep an eye toward training camp, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at some of the key schedules across the country. To no surprise, Ohio State’s schedule is of particular interest with the Buckeyes among the favorites in the national championship odds.

With great odds come high expectations, but that’s nothing new around Columbus. The expectations at Ohio State are always to win the B1G and compete for a national title, and that’s especially true coming out of a disappointing 3-year stretch for the program.

In spite of talent-rich rosters every season, Ryan Day has lost 3 straight games to Michigan and has not captured the conference title since 2020. Now, the pressure is at an all-time high after an offseason of change, including the addition of Chip Kelly to the coaching staff and some ultra-elite transfers.

So, which opponents have a chance to take down Ohio State, and which games should be relatively easy for the Buckeyes this fall? Here’s an in-depth look at the schedule throughout the season, ranked by easiest opponents to most difficult.

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vs. Akron (Aug. 31); vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 7); vs. Marshall (Sept. 21)

We won’t spend a lot of time looking at the nonconference schedule for Ohio State. After wrapping up its home-and-home series with Notre Dame, the Buckeyes should breeze through the early portion of the season with games against Akron, WMU and Marshall.

Ohio State is 10-1 all-time against those teams, and the only loss to Akron came prior to 1900. Since 2000, Ohio State is 6-0 against this trio, and none of those teams have the kind of roster or depth that will be able to keep things close this fall.

Strength of difficulty: Cakewalk

at Michigan State (Sept. 28); vs. Indiana (Nov. 23); vs. Purdue (Nov. 9),

From 2011-16, Michigan State went 3-3 against the Buckeyes with an average margin of victory of 5 points between the two teams in those 6 games. However, it has been all OSU since 2017 with the Buckeyes blowing the Spartans out every time. This game is in East Lansing, but Jonathan Smith is in his first year trying to rebuild the program post-Mel Tucker.

Indiana’s fortunes have been even worse with Ohio State winning 28 straight in the series since a tie in 1990. The Hoosiers kept things close in 2020 when there were no fans and Michael Penix Jr. was IU’s QB, but even a spirited effort last fall resulted in a 20-point win by OSU. Curt Cignetti is also a new head coach to the B1G, but even as a coach “who wins,” he will need some time to get this thing rolling.

Purdue, for all its success in big games at West Lafayette, has been blow out twice by the Buckeyes under Ryan Day, and this year’s game comes in Columbus. Even if Ryan Walters gets things trending upward, this is not the year for the Boilermakers to stun the Buckeyes.

Strength of difficulty: B1G cakewalk

vs. Iowa (Oct. 5); vs. Nebraska (Oct. 26); at Northwestern (Nov. 16)

Iowa is moving forward with a new offensive coordinator this season, but it’s hard to imagine Brian Ferentz alone was the offensive plague of the Hawkeyes. Without an offense, an elite Iowa defense can only do so much. Ohio State gradually wore down the Hawkeyes in 2022 before winning 54-10, and DraftKings has the Buckeyes -24 in this season’s matchup. Fans can take advantage of those odds by using Tradition’s DraftKings Ohio bonus code.

Nebraska is an interesting matchup after the two sides have not faced off since 2021. The Huskers held the Buckeyes to a 26-17 win in that matchup, but that game also came in Lincoln. Even if Dylan Raiola is the answer at QB, it’s hard to imagine a true freshman QB making plays against an elite OSU defense.

Northwestern (at Wrigley Field) is a tougher game to project for various reasons. Under normal circumstances (and if it were played in Columbus), it’d be easy to circle this one as another blowout. But simply playing this one in Wrigley, at a point in the season when I expect Ohio State to be focusing on roster health, could lead to some more conservative playing time decisions and a closer than expected game.

Degree of difficulty: Tense moments early but a comfortable win in the 4th

at Penn State (Nov. 2)

No one needs a refresher on the dangers of playing in Happy Valley. Though the Nittany Lions have not beaten Ohio State since 2016, they have continually played the Buckeyes tight in the series. And, for all the pressure facing Day’s program, the same can be said for James Franklin at Penn State.

Depending on how the early portion of the season plays out, Penn State could find itself in “desperation mode” by the time Ohio State comes to town. If the Nittany Lions view this as a Playoff elimination game based on their record, it could lead Penn State to pull out all the stops.

Degree of difficulty: Tread lightly

at Oregon (Oct. 12); vs. Michigan (Nov. 30)

With all due respect to Michigan, a road trip to Eugene could prove to be Ohio State’s toughest game of the season. FanDuel certainly thinks so, though the Buckeyes are a slim 1.5-point road favorite ahead of the season. Fans can use Tradition’s FanDuel Ohio promo code to get rolling.

The degree of difficulty in facing Dan Lanning’s Ducks is twofold. Oregon is among the favorites in the Big Ten Championship odds, and the game comes on the road, giving Ohio State an ultra-elite opponent on the road in the middle of the B1G slate.

Meanwhile, nothing needs to be said about The Game. Even with the changes in Ann Arbor, Michigan will be eager to keep its winning streak rolling, and the Wolverines will be playing with the confidence of a national champion and 3-game winning streak in the rivalry.

Degree of difficulty: 10/10

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