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Ohio State football caught a break (or two) with recently announced 2024 schedule

The Buckeyes will play eight home games in 2024, while avoiding the likes of USC and Wisconsin as part of their soft(er) away slate.

Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alright folks, let’s talk about next year’s Ohio State football schedule! No, no, no... not next season, because the 2023 campaign has yet to kick off. I mean the calendar year, 2024. Too far into the future? Not interested? Too bad, because it is the middle of June, and these OSU (football/basketball) content streets are quiet. Plus, I think that the recently announced 2024 schedule is quite interesting. And quite favorable to the Buckeyes.

Last Thursday, it was announced that Ryan Day’s squad (or not? wide-eyes emoji) is scheduled to play eight games in The Shoe in 2024. Opponents for those games include Southern Mississippi, Western Michigan, Marshall, Northwestern, and Rutgers. Illinois, Iowa, and TTUN are also scheduled to visit Columbus, but I think it’s fair to say that Ohio State will not be playing host to a murderer’s row of college football’s elite.

So how about the 2024 away schedule? Will the Buckeyes be visiting hostile grounds in Year 1 of the bi-coastal Big Ten expansion? Well, no, not really. And I am completely on board with that. While OSU is scheduled to travel to Happy Valley for what I assume will be a raucous white-out, the team’s other road trips include a short one to East Lansing (Michigan State), a seemingly easy one to Minneapolis (Minnesota), and a sunny one to Pasadena (California, UCLA). That’s right, Ohio State’s first B1G game against a Cali team will take place in the Rose Bowl, their home away from home.

While I am not a big fan of the Buckeyes’ early bye week in 2024 (September 14), beggars can’t be choosers. Inferior non-conference opponents and the referenced bye should result in a stress-free opening month. Beyond that, OSU could not have asked for a better setup in ’24. Illinois and Iowa, while certainly respectable, have not posed much of a threat to Ohio State in recent seasons. Sure, both former B1G West teams will continue to play hard-nosed defense and try to fall into the endzone a few times on offense, but I just can’t take either one seriously. Get back to me when the Hawkeye disciples, Bert Bielema included, embrace modern football.

Mark me down as not believing the Illinois hype
Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As for Northwestern and Rutgers, c’mon, why even bring those teams up? I respect the heck out of both Pat Fitzgerald and Greg Schiano, but their squads are simply inferior. OSU getting them at home pretty much equals two additional bye weeks. In fact, mark my words right now: One of these future games will forever be known as the ‘Air Noland Arrival Game’. That’s how confident I am in at least one 50-point blowout.

Ohio State’s most difficult home game in 2024? Obviously, The Game against TTUN. But getting TTUN at home is always a win... Even when it’s a loss. Despite last year’s debacle, the Buckeyes have fared well against the Wolverines in Columbus, dropping just two rivalry games at The Shoe since 2000. We know that these two teams will match up (at least once) each and every year until the end of time, so no further breakdown is needed.

Regarding the difficulty (or lack thereof) of scheduled road games in 2024, OSU made out like a sneaky bandit. Similar to Illinois and Iowa, Michigan State, and Minnesota could be considered dangerous by some, but not by me. I see those teams on the schedule, and I see an easy win for the Buckeyes. This is not 2015 (MSU reference), and the Gophers are... the Gophers. Again, no disrespect, but Ohio State is in a different class.

There is a first class joke to be made here somewhere...
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Now, the trip to Happy Valley (Penn State) will likely be a matchup of two elite teams, and who knows with UCLA. But OSU has won three straight on the Nittany Lions’ home field, and I would prefer a roadie in/at the Rose Bowl – as opposed to ‘The Coliseum’ – 11 times out of 10. Plus, let’s face it, USC might be a national title contender in 2024 whereas UCLA has been more of a Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl sort of team. No offense to Tony the Tiger or Dante Moore, incoming freshman quarterback for the Bruins. Both are studs.

And these are the teams Ohio State will play in 2024. Notice that I made no mention of Wisconsin or possibly ascending Maryland. USC was only brought up for comparison purposes. So the Buckeyes definitely dodged a few future, figurative bullets in ’24, which will not always be the case. Because in theory, there could be a season in which OSU plays TTU, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, likely only one of the Cali schools, AND a tough non-conference opponent. That certainly sounds like a tough road to hoe.

While the 2024 season is still a long way away, some might find it fun to imagine a future championship run. It is not very often that Buckeye Nation looks at an upcoming season/schedule and believes it to be easy. And I am not saying that 2024 is going to be all lollipops and rainbows, but the Big Ten will only grow stronger with the additions of USC, UCLA, Luke Fickell, Matt Rhule, etc. Meaning, if a future season looks just a tad bit easier for Ohio State on paper, we as fans should embrace it.

So go ahead and book your travel to Atlanta for January 20, 2025... What’s the worst that could happen?