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Column: Can we stop scheduling college football games a decade in advance?

College football has to have a better way of scheduling non-conference games than it currently does.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Oklahoma at Ohio State Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just a couple days ago, Ohio State and Oregon announced they would be playing in the 2032 and 2033 seasons. The Buckeyes and Ducks were originally scheduled to play last year in Eugene, and this year in Columbus. While Ohio State and Oregon will be playing at Ohio Stadium in September, last year’s trip to Eugene was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if the country wasn’t dealing with COVID-19, it’s likely the game in Eugene would have been delayed or cancelled because of wildfires in the area last September.

Before I dive into Ohio State’s future non-conference games, I do have an issue with future scheduling that I was hoping the pandemic was going to change. Why are we still scheduling non-conference games a decade in advance? In the fall we had teams willing to play each other with not much more than a week’s notice. BYU and Coastal Carolina put together a game in just a few days, and it wound up as one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Obviously I know more time than a week is needed to schedule a non-conference contest when times are normal. I also don’t think we have to schedule as far in advance as we currently are. Why can’t we schedule games that are going to be played two or three years down the road?

I remember when California and Ohio State agreed to a home-and-home series. When they did, the Golden Bears were a solid team, usually winning anywhere between 8-10 games in the year. By the time the teams met in Columbus in 2012, Cal was at the end of the Jeff Tedford era, and the next season when the Buckeyes traveled to Berkeley, Cal would finish the year with a 1-11 record in Sonny Dykes’ first year as head coach of the Golden Bears.

Scheduling so far in advance just gives games more time to fall apart. We saw it with a few matchups Ohio State had scheduled with a couple SEC schools in the past, and I; sure there will be more changes to non-conference games in the future. If we shorten the scheduling windows, there is a greater probability games will be played, and schools won’t have to waste money on buyouts.

I know there are logistics that schools have to get into place when hitting the road for non-conference games. With so many players and staff to schedule travel arrangements for, college football teams can’t quite put matchups together as quickly as college basketball can. But, it doesn’t take 10 years to schedule flights and put together hotel arrangements. We are in the 21st century where everything is at our fingertips. We can do better than the current scheduling structure.

Whenever an attractive non-conference game is announced, I always tell myself I’m going to go to it. Then years pass and I forget about it and by the time it comes around, I don’t end up going. Or in this case of the 2020 Oregon game, it gets cancelled. If games were only scheduled a couple years in advance, I’d probably have a little more motivation to finalize plans to go to those games. For others, a whole lot of life can happen in between, whether it is because of kids, work, or other variables.

Basically what I’m saying is stop making us wait so long for games we want to see. These days the attention span for most isn’t very long. By the end of this sentence we’ll have something new we are either celebrating or raging against. College football scheduling needs to change with the times. Hopefully we see the way games are scheduled change sooner rather than later.

Future non-conference games against Power 5 schools

Notre Dame
2022 in Columbus/2023 in South Bend

Ohio State holds a 4-2 edge against Notre Dame, with the Buckeyes winning the last four meetings. Ohio State won the last meeting between the two schools, beating the Notre Dame 44-28 in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. The last regular season meetings between the schools came in 1995 and 1996. Ohio State won 45-26 in Columbus in 1995, and followed that win up with a 29-16 win over the Fighting Irish in South Bend the following year.

2024 in Seattle/2025 in Columbus

The Buckeyes and Huskies have become familiar with each other over the last few decades, meeting six times since 1993. Ohio State holds a 9-3 edge all-time against Washington, winning the last four meetings. The last time these schools met was in the 2019 Rose Bowl, which marked the first time the Buckeyes and Huskies met in a bowl game.

2025 in Columbus/2026 in Austin

Ohio State will be looking to get back to .500 against Texas when the schools matchup in Columbus in 2025. The Longhorns have won two of three meetings with the Buckeyes, with all three matchups coming between 2005-2009. Texas squeaked out a victory in Columbus in 2005 on their way to winning a national title, and Ohio State responded with a 24-7 victory in Austin the following year. Texas broke the tie in the series with a 24-21 win in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

Boston College
2026 in Columbus/2027 in Chestnut Hill

When Ohio State and Boston College square off in 2026, it will be their first meeting since 1995. The Buckeyes have won all three meetings with the Golden Eagles. After a tight first meeting in 1989, Ohio State won the next two meetings by a combined score of 53 points. Former Ohio State assistant Jeff Hafley is the current Boston College head coach, and it will be interesting to see if he is able to build a win in Chestnut Hill, or if he has left for greener pastures by then.

2027 in Columbus/2028 in Tuscaloosa

Aside from Ohio State’s win in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl on New Years’ Day night in 2015, Alabama has dominated the series with Ohio State, winning the other four matchups. Even though these two schools aren’t scheduled to play until 2027, that doesn’t mean we won’t see them battle before then, as both teams are a fixture in the College Football Playoff.

2030 in Athens/2031 in Columbus

Ohio State and Georgia were originally scheduled to meet in 2020 and 2021, but those meetings were called off because of an agreement between the Big Ten and PAC-12 that was also called off. This will be the first time the Buckeyes and Bulldogs have met in the regular season. The only meeting between the schools came in the 1993 Citrus Bowl, with Georgia downing Ohio State 21-14. Much like Alabama, Ohio State could see Georgia in the College Football Playoff before they square off in 2030.

2032 in Eugene/2033 in Columbus

Hopefully when 2032 rolls around we aren’t in the middle of another pandemic. As long as schedules don’t change, it will mark just the second trip to Eugene by the Buckeyes. Ohio State has won all nine meetings with Oregon. With both teams being strong in their conferences, it’s not out of the possibility that we could see them matchup in the Rose Bowl before then, or possibly even the College Football Playoff.