Waking up this morning knowing today was supposed to be Ohio State’s season opener pic.twitter.com/ayEdNM2f3I— Gene Ross (@Gene_Ross23) September 3, 2020
Today is a tough day for Buckeye Nation. Ohio State was scheduled to kickoff their 2020 season today with a trip to Champaign to take on Illinois, but the Big Ten decided to scrap those plans just a few days after the revised scheduled had been released. Instead, the only college football games being played tonight see Central Arkansas playing at UAB and South Alabama taking on Southern Mississippi.
Since we won’t be watching the Buckeyes and Fighting Illini battle, I figure we could take a look at some of the memorable recent Ohio State season openers. Since I have lived in Columbus since 2005, I’m only going to include season openers from the last 15 years.
Miami (OH) v. Ohio State - 2005
Even though it wasn’t a competitive game, this season opener will have a special place in my heart since it was the first-ever Ohio State game I attended at Ohio Stadium. Since I was still a couple weeks out from moving into off-campus housing, I drove down from Western New York on Friday and stayed at a hotel near campus. The weekend had even more people in the capital city than normal because a USA-Mexico World Cup Qualifier was also being played at Crew Stadium on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes dominated the Red Hawks, scoring the first 34 points of the game on their way to a 34-14 win. Plenty of questions would remain though, as not only was Vince Young and Texas next up on the schedule, but quarterback Troy Smith was suspended for this game. We would see how missing Smith for this game would impact the Buckeyes in the following week, as Ohio State struggled to find consistency at quarterback against the Longhorns.
Navy v. Ohio State - 2009
For the rest of the college football world, this was an exciting way to start the season. For Ohio State, it was pure torture. The Buckeyes never trailed in the game, but they weren’t able to put distance on the Midshipmen.
A 29-14 lead early in the fourth quarter was the biggest margin Ohio State could create. Navy scored two touchdowns in a four-minute span to cut the gap to 29-27, and had a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversion with 2:23 left in the game. Brian Rolle intercepted the two-point attempt and took it to the house to secure a 31-27 victory.
Marshall v. Ohio State - 2010
There wasn’t anything really memorable about Ohio State’s 45-7 win over the Thundering Herd. By halftime, the Buckeyes led 35-7, leaving no doubt in the result. Terrelle Pryor tossed three touchdowns, while Brandon Saine rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout victory.
What made this game so memorable was when it was held. The season opener against Marshall was Ohio State’s first mid-week game since the 1997 season opener, when they defeated Wyoming. The Thursday game in 2010 allowed Ohio State to be on the same schedule as the Miami Hurricanes, who they would square off with the following week.
Miami (OH) v. Ohio State - 2012
Why is another blowout of the Red Hawks memorable? It was the first game of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State. Braxton Miller threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 161 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Devin Smith made quite an impression on his new coach with a ridiculous touchdown catch early in the second quarter.
The win to open up the 2012 season would be the first of 24 straight victories to open up Meyer’s time in Columbus.
Ohio State v. Navy - 2014
There was plenty of questions for Ohio State heading into this game. Just a few weeks before, Braxton Miller announced he would miss the season due to a shoulder injury, leaving redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett to start for the Buckeyes. Barrett held his own, throwing for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
It’s pretty rare to see the Buckeyes start the season somewhere else than Ohio Stadium, but Ohio State was up to the task against a pesky Navy team. The Buckeyes trailed 14-13 early in the third quarter, but found their rhythm, scoring 21 of the last 24 points scored in the game. While Ohio State would lose the following week, we all know how this season ended.
Ohio State v. Virginia Tech - 2015
The intrigue for this game was incredible. Not only was Virginia Tech the highest-profile team the Buckeyes have started the season with in quite some time, but this contest was played on Labor Day. Add in the Buckeyes entering this season with questions on who was going to start at quarterback, with Cardale Jones eventually getting the nod over Barrett.
Ohio State started this game with two touchdowns in the first half of the first quarter, with the second being an 80-yard Ezekiel Elliott touchdown run. Virginia Tech would recover to take a 17-14 halftime lead, but Ohio State would take control thanks to two 50-yard touchdowns from Braxton Miller, with one of those touchdowns being created thanks to one of the best spin moves you’ll ever see.
While the season as a whole was a disappointment, since the loaded Buckeye squad lost to Michigan State later in the year to dash their playoff hopes, the win over the Hokies was tons of fun to watch. Not only was the atmosphere of Lane Stadium great to see, but it was one of the few games during the year in which it felt like the Buckeyes played up to their potential.
Ohio State v. Indiana - 2017
A Thursday night season opener against a conference foe on the road. It was like a trifecta of weird back in 2017. Indiana had given Ohio State fits at times in recent prior matchups, which led some to put the Buckeyes on upset alert. Those people were looking like geniuses at halftime, where Ohio State held just a 14-13 lead.
The Buckeyes would come out of halftime firing, scoring 29 unanswered points to earn a 49-21 victory. Along with the victory, we saw the debut of J.K. Dobbins, who was called on because of an injury to Mike Weber. The freshman would rush for 181 yards, while Barrett added 304 yards passing and three touchdown passes.
The last two season openers for Ohio State has seen Ryan Day at the helm, first as interim head coach in 2018 in a 77-31 win over Oregon State. Last year, Day was coaching in his first game as official head coach, and we saw the Buckeyes handle their business against Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic.
While we definitely aren’t getting a September opener this year, and likely not getting a season opener at all, it will just make the next season opener — whenever that happens — even sweeter.