"When we get to the 20s, we'll schedule some Ohio schools. It will happen"
-Ohio State AD Gene Smith, via USA TODAY
The Buckeyes only have two other games currently scheduled in the future against other Ohio schools:There's a 2016 showdown with Bowling Green, and a 2019 game against the Cincinnati Bearcats. After not playing an in-state foe from 1933 to 1991, Ohio State had faced one in 18 of the last 23 seasons.
With the move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule in 2016, and with the presumed focus on strength of schedule for the college football playoff providing an incentive to toughen up schedules, other Ohio squads aren't on future schedules as often, but Gene Smith says that won't be the case forever.
The Buckeyes don't have any open schedule spots until 2017, when they need a third team to join Oklahoma and UNLV. In the 2020s, the schedule is pretty open, with only a road game at Oregon scheduled in 2020 and a home date in 2021. 2022 and 2023 will feature matches with Notre Dame and Texas. Now take a moment and ponder how old you will be when these games happen, and contemplate your own fragile mortality.
"Ohio State's 2011 basketball team was one of the best to never win a national title"
The good folks at SI have made a 16 team bracket of some of the best college basketball teams to never win a title, and the 2011 squad, featuring Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, Jon Diebler and a 32-3 record, made the cut. Buckeye fans remember that even as that team ran roughshod on the Big Ten en route to a #1 AP ranking, an unlucky game against a Kentucky team stocked with future pros proved to be their undoing in the tournament.
This squad is unlikely to advance far in SI's tournament, as the Buckeyes were named a #16 seed against the #1 1991 UNLV Runnin' Rebels, one of the best college basketball teams ever. Ohio State is currently down in fan voting by a lopsided 85%-15%, and I can't personally disagree, but I'd stack this Ohio State team against several teams seeded above it, any day.
"We have signals for everything anyway"
-Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville, via Cincinnati.com
Despite Cincinnati's rather adorable efforts to try and gain a crowd advantage in Columbus, the crowd at Ohio State should have a loud, decidedly pro-Buckeye bent. With over 100,000 people yelling and screaming, it can create a very difficult place to play, especially for a team like Cincinnati that isn't used to playing in front of such large crowds. But is coach Tommy Tuberville worried? Nah. Once the ball is kicked, Tuberville says all routes use hand signals. Unless the Ohio Stadium crowd is planning on unleashing smoke bombs, the Bearcats should be okay there.
Tuberville also added that balance in their offense will be important, as Cincinnati is 99th in the country right now in rushing yards per game, at 123.5.
"The Bearcats do not start a single player less than three years removed from high school"
-Allen Trieu, Scout.com
It isn't a shock that when you look at the recruiting rankings, Ohio State boasts far more stars across the board than Cincinnati. Per Scout, on defense, Ohio State averages over four stars per athlete, while Cincinnati averages only 2.6. Ohio State's edge on offense is a little less pronounced, but still there, 3.63 to 2.72. Take away Cincinnati's two five star transfers in QB Gunner Kiel and LB Jeff Luc, and the difference is even more pronounced. Luc is also the only Bearcat starter that had an Ohio State offer.
One way that Cincinnati will try to mitigate that advantage is with their commanding experience advantage. Cincinnati has upperclassmen all over the field, as their defense averages four years removed from high school a player (compared to three for Ohio State). Experience versus raw talent will be an interesting subplot over the course of the game.
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