Making their debut appearance into Ohio Stadium on Halloween at 12pm EST, courtesy of The Big Ten Network, will be New Mexico State. Yes, that same New Mexico State that was written by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports as being the worst football program in America this past summer.
A few weeks ago, Trey Bradley of The Bleacher Report wrote an article detailing how The Big Ten was barely BCS worthy. Keep in mind, this article was written before Ohio State lost to unranked Purdue, throwing Ohio State's season into a seemingly endless cycle of analysis and criticism of Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor, and anyone else who has anything to do with Ohio State football.
Are there any other Ohio State fans out there besides me who feel playing New Mexico State will actually hurt Ohio State's program in the long-run? The reputation of Ohio State football has been taking a beating nationally...well, since Ohio State took this beating about three years ago.
It is bad enough Ohio State played Youngstown State back in 2007...but then Ohio State played Youngstown State again in 2008. Here are some of the other cupcakes Ohio State has played the last few seasons - Akron. Kent State. Ohio University. Troy - well, maybe I should take it easy on Troy. I mean, the mighty Florida Gators played Troy earlier this season, and everyone knows that every team Florida plays gets their best shot.
Getting back to Ohio State, and The Big Ten in general, playing weak non-conference games are what is hurting the conference in terms of reputation, as well as the aforementioned rankings. I believe Pete Fiutak of collegefootballnews.com made an excellent point last spring when he suggested The Big Ten play ten conference games, with two non-conference games. How better would Ohio State's schedule look if Ohio State played Michigan State and Northwestern, rather than Toledo and New Mexico State?
In order for Ohio State's reputation to improve, Ohio State needs to win the big games, such as the game earlier this season against USC. In the meantime, Ohio State can start to regain some measure of respect by simply not scheduling games like the one coming up this Saturday.