First of all, one thing college football fans really need to remember is that a team’s non-conference portion of the schedule is generally made out years in advance. Of course, the NCAA made it even more difficult for athletic directors and head coaches five years ago when they instituted a 12th game, starting with the 2006 season.
Since Jim Tressel took over as head coach in 2001, the Buckeyes have faced a ranked non-conference opponent seven out of the last nine years.
During Tressel’s tenure, Ohio State has taken on No. 12 UCLA (2001), No. 10 Washington State (2002), No. 17 Washington (2003), No. 24 North Carolina State (2003), No. 2 Texas (2005 and 2006), No. 1 USC (2008), and No. 3 USC (2009).
In those two seasons when the Buckeyes did not face a ranked non-conference foe, they did play on the road against Washington and N.C. State, who were both previously ranked.
For the 2010 season, Ohio State will host Miami-Fla., a team that’s more than likely going to start out in the top 10. The Buckeyes return the favor and travel to Sun Life Stadium to take on the Hurricanes in 2011.
For the next eight years following (2012-2019), Ohio State has four home-and-home series (i.e. two teams meet twice, once at each team’s respective home field) in the books with the likes of California, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Of those four teams, three of them should be in the top 25 to start out this season.
Again, though, it’s really a crap shoot. You can’t really predict how these programs will fare down the road, but it’s still a very probable that all four will still be in the upper echelon of college football.
Another thing that college football fans need to realize is that it’s a sport driven on the economics of the game. While Ohio State will take on a highly-ranked Miami team in September, they also play Marshall, Ohio, and Eastern Michigan.
It’s all about money. In all likelihood, those three teams signed one-year contracts, which means the Buckeyes do not travel to their home fields. Plus, all three of the schools are a less than three hours by bus to Columbus. Ohio State gets their home games (eight this season), while those three get a decent paycheck ($400,000-500,000) while keeping their costs down with such a short trip.
Still think Ohio State’s 2010 football schedule is weak? Let’s take a look at others, like Alabama.
Kudos to the Crimson Tide for scheduling Penn State, but they also host San Jose State, a team that went 2-10 last season. After Penn State, Bama plays at Duke, which hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1989 and hasn’t won one since 1960. It’s also Bama’s first true road game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) opponent since 2002.
Later in the season, Alabama will play Georgia State, a school that has never fielded a football team until this year, ever! In the history of the school! Located in Atlanta, GSU has been around since 1913, but this is their first year of intercollegiate football and are in Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA).
In fact, 10 out of the 12 Southeastern Conference schools take on at least one opponent from the FCS, which seems to be a growing trend and is troubling. There are, at last count, 120 teams that play in the FBS. It also seems hard to believe that these schools can’t fill in their schedules entirely of Division I-A teams.
While you may still think Ohio State’s schedule is weak, three of their four non-conference opponents went to a bowl game last season and none of them play in Division I-AA.
Now, if we can just get a 16-team playoff for the FBS teams where some of those games are played in the elements of the North during December and January, instead of in places like Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, and California, then we’ll be all set.