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Ohio State 2016, 2017 football schedule: Big Ten 9-game slates set

It's probably way too far out to prognosticate over who has a tough and who has an easy schedule in 2016 and 2017, but when has that ever stopped us before?

Season opener??
Season opener??

Contrary to popular missives about "Big Ten speed", the conference amongst the first to release their 2016-2017 conference schedules. These are particularly interesting since 2016 is the first year of the nine game conference schedule. All East teams, including Ohio State, will play five conference home games in 2016 and in every even numbered year, and four conference home games in the odd years.

2016 Crossovers

East Division

Indiana: Nebraska, at Northwestern, Purdue (protected)
Maryland: Purdue, Minnesota, at Nebraska
Michigan: Wisconsin, Illinois, at Iowa
Michigan State: Wisconsin, Northwestern, at Illinois
Ohio State: at Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska
Penn State: Minnesota, at Purdue, Iowa
Rutgers: Illinois, at Minnesota, Iowa

West Division

Illinois: at Rutgers, at Michigan, Michigan State
Iowa: at Rutgers, at Penn State, Michigan
Minnesota: at Penn State, at Maryland, Rutgers
Nebraska: at Indiana, at Ohio State, Maryland
Northwestern: at Michigan State, Indiana, at Ohio State
Purdue: at Maryland, Penn State, at Indiana (protected)
Wisconsin: at Michigan, at Michigan State, Ohio State

Here we see the impact of parity based scheduling at work. Provided Northwestern continues on their upward trajectory, it looks like the Buckeyes may have drawn the three top teams from the West division in 2016, although they'll get at least two of them at home. Michigan will avoid Nebraska and Northwestern, while Penn State will avoid all three of the current "top dogs" of the West.

2017 Crossovers

East Division

Indiana: Wisconsin, at Illinois, at Purdue (protected)
Maryland: at Minnesota, Northwestern, at Wisconsin
Michigan: at Purdue, Minnesota at Wisconsin,
Michigan State: Iowa, at Minnesota, at Northwestern
Ohio State: at Nebraska, at Iowa, Illinois
Penn State: at Northwestern, at Iowa, Nebraska
Rutgers: at Nebraska, at Illinois, Purdue

West Division

Illinois: Rutgers, Indiana, at Ohio State
Iowa: at Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State
Minnesota: Maryland, Michigan State, at Michigan
Nebraska: Rutgers, Ohio State, at Penn State
Northwestern: Penn State, at Maryland, Michigan State
Purdue: Michigan, at Rutgers, Indiana (protected)
Wisconsin: Maryland, at Indiana, Michigan

A roadtrip to Nebraska is never easy, but at Iowa and Illinois are probably not the worst matchups the Buckeyes could see. Michigan goes to Wisconsin but gets potentially more manageable games with Purdue and Minnesota.

Here are Ohio State's 2016 and 2017 schedules in their entireties:

2016 Ohio State football schedule

9/3 - vs Bowling Green

9/10 - vs Tulsa

9/17 - at Oklahoma

10/1 - Rutgers

10/8 - Indiana

10/15 - at Wisconsin

10/22 - at Penn State

10/29 - Northwestern

11/5 - Nebraska

11/12 - at Maryland

11/19 - at Michigan State

11/26 - Michigan

12/3 - Big Ten Championship Game

2017 Ohio State football schedule

9/2 - at Indiana

9/16 - Oklahoma

9/23 - at North Carolina***

9/30 - at Rutgers

10/7 - Maryland

10/14 - at Nebraska

10/28 - Penn State

11/4 - at Iowa

11/11 - Michigan State

11/18 - Illinois

11/25 - at Michigan

12/2 - Big Ten Championship Game

*** = On the road in an odd year; could get rescheduled/canceled Gene Smith's clarified that the 2017 date with UNC is still on.

While the Buckeyes may have dodged a bit of a bullet with what looks like more favorable league schedules for 2014 and 2015, they'll certainly get payback in what could be a *very* difficult 2016 slate, hitting all of the heavy hitters in the Big Ten, plus a road trip to Oklahoma.

Wisconsin, another team that probably even had a more pillow-soft Big Ten slate for 2014-2015 than Ohio State, will get an even harder slate for 2016, proving that what goes around, eventually comes around. I guess.

Also, per ESPN, Ohio State will apparently play at Indiana in the season opener in 2017. If you wanted earlier Big Ten conference games, well, now you're going to get them. 2017 also includes a few Big Ten games in week 3 of the season.

Of course, by 2017, Purdue and Illinois could suddenly by nine win teams, Wisconsin could fail to adapt to a new coaching situation, and who the heck else knows. Either way, should be some wild rides for the years ahead for the Buckeyes.