Ohio State will play a November night game. It's just not the one most expected — or wanted.
The Buckeyes have three night games in 2014 — two at home versus Virginia Tech and Illinois and one on the road at Penn State.
Ohio State played a record two night games at Ohio Stadium last season — and three overall — after head coach Urban Meyer pressed for more games under the lights. Recruiting was the impetus, with Meyer wanting a raucous atmosphere to showcase for recruits.
Meyer and Co. will get the same opportunity again in 2014.
Ohio State will host Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 and Illinois on Nov. 1 with both games getting an 8 p.m. time slot. ESPN will televise the Virginia Tech game. ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2 will carry the Illinois game.
On Oct. 25, the Buckeyes will travel to State College, Pa. for an 8 p.m. start against Penn State. The game will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2.
Athletic director Gene Smith told Eleven Warriors last year that he prefers the Buckeyes play more night games at home than on the road.
“My concern now is we’re always playing two on the road and one at home, which means our guys get home at 3 in the morning twice a year," Smith said last April. “That’s not just a competitive disadvantage but also a student-athlete welfare issue. So we need to have two at home and one on the road as opposed to suffering the other side of that.”
The night-game scene at the Horseshoe has earned a reputation for being one of the toughest venues in college football. Ohio State is 11-3 all time in night games at Ohio Stadium. The 2014 season marks the seventh consecutive year with at least one night game in Columbus. The first night game was a 10-7 win over Pitt in 1985.
Five of the top 10 largest crowds in stadium history, including the top two —Nebraska in 2012 (106,102) and USC in 2009 (106,033) — were night games.
Ohio State has played a total of 64 night games (kickoff after 5 p.m. local time) and has a record of 42-22.
The Virginia Tech game was originally scheduled for Sept. 20 before being switched last October to Sept. 6. After being approached by ESPN, both schools agreed to make the change.
There were murmurs of a possible night game at Michigan State on Nov. 8. But unless it’s on BTN, which is highly unlikely, the Buckeyes and Spartans will kick off at noon or 3:30 p.m.
“That would be Michigan State’s call. They would call us and ask if we would be willing to do it [at night], and I'd probably say yes,” Smith told The Toledo Blade in March. “[Michigan State] would get the first call. If they feel like they can handle that up there, then we’d be supportive of it.
“A lot of times you have to defer to the operations locally. If we were playing them here, we would do it. I think we could handle that magnitude of a game. That’s technically the second Saturday in November, but you’re only talking by a couple of days.”
The Big Ten Conference will announce the BTN primetime schedule next week.
The season opener at Navy in Baltimore will start at noon and be televised by CBS or CBS Sports Network.