With Ohio State's grueling 2019 schedule, Ryan Day won't be able to ease into his first season as a head coach.
Next year's Buckeyes face a tough slate, and the nine-game conference lineup does them no favors. There isn't a titanic non-conference matchup, but overall, the schedule features six teams that are bowling this December and January.
Here's a quick breakdown of what Day and Ohio State take on next year.
|SAT, AUG. 31||FLORIDA ATLANTIC||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 7||CINCINNATI||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 14||INDIANA||MEMORIAL STADIUM (BLOOMINGTON, IN)|
|SAT, SEP. 21||MIAMI (OHIO)||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 28||NEBRASKA||MEMORIAL STADIUM (LINCOLN, NE)|
|SAT, OCT. 5||MICHIGAN STATE||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, OCT. 19||NORTHWESTERN||RYAN FIELD (EVANSTON, IL)|
|SAT, OCT. 26||WISCONSIN||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 9||MARYLAND||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 16||RUTGERS||HIGH POINT SOLUTIONS STADIUM (PISCATAWAY, NJ)|
|SAT, NOV. 23||PENN STATE||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 30||MICHIGAN||MICHIGAN STADIUM (ANN ARBOR, MI)|
Day's first game will force him into a coaching matchup with Lane Kiffin, and finally, the real reason Urban Meyer retired is revealed. He was scared.
After a surprising 11-3 campaign in 2017, Kiffin and the Owls came back down to earth this season, going 5-7 and losing four of their last six. FAU played two ranked teams this fall (Oklahoma and UCF) and lost both by an average of five touchdowns.
Past and present will collide in Week 2 when Luke Fickell brings his surging Cincinnati squad to Columbus.
It isn't a marquee matchup like Texas, USC or TCU, but the Bearcats will present a legitimate early test. Fickell's team showed enormous growth in his second season, going 10-2 and earning a Military Bowl matchup with Virginia Tech.
Cincinatti will have its two-year starting quarterback Desmond Ridder and an 1,100-plus yard, 17-touchdown tailback in Michael Warren to challenge an overhauled Buckeyes defense.
Indiana was supposed to better than it was this season. The Hoosiers were 4-1 when they came to Columbus to face off against the Buckeyes, and after falling 49-26, they went on to lose six of their final seven games and failed to become bowl eligible.
This matchup will be the first road game of the season for Ohio State.
There are some games that mean more than others. This game, however, does not mean more than any other.
The Buckeyes will round out their unspectacular non-conference schedule with what's destined to be a nooner against a MAC squad that hasn't finished a season better than .500 since 2010.
When College Gameday comes to town for this one, here's to hoping they have Urban Meyer on as the celebrity guest picker.
If Scott Frost continues the momentum of his rebuild in Lincoln, this should be one of the most entertaining games of the season.
Frost's first year at the helm of his alma mater could have been smoother, but injuries and attrition spoiled any chance of that. The Cornhuskers lost their first six games of the season, but rallied in the second half of the season to put together four wins. During that stretch, Nebraska gave Ohio State a fight in Ohio Stadium, but ultimately fell 36-31.
Michigan State couldn't avenge the worst loss Mark Dantonio had ever suffered as the head coach in East Lansing.
The Buckeyes absolutely drilled the Spartans in 2017, taking out their frustrations from the Iowa upset in a 48-3 rout. Those are the kind of losses Dantonio bounces back from, but the Buckeyes invaded Spartan Stadium and came away with a 26-6 win last month.
A rematch of the Big Ten title game will go down in Evanston after the first of Ohio State's two mid-season bye weeks. And the last time the Buckeyes traveled to play Chicago's Big Ten School, it was a banger.
ESPN's Scott Van Pelt still references this game as one of the most wild come-from-behind covers in history, and he's right. And rest assured there will be dozens of Wildcat fans in attendance hoping for a different outcome next year.
The Buckeyes didn't get great luck in their cross-division matchups this year as they drew Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin. Those three teams are expected to compete for the West Division title.
Fortunately for Ohio State, it avoids the most hostile environment of the three. Camp Randall has always proven a tricky place for the Buckeyes to play, but Wisconsin hasn't won in Ohio Stadium since 2004.
Outside of Rutgers, Ohio State hadn't beaten a Big Ten team so soundly as it did Maryland leading up to this year's matchup. In the four matchups from 2014-2017, the Buckeyes had beaten the Terrapins by an average of nearly 40 points per game.
That narrative was flipped on its head a few weeks ago, when Maryland pushed Ohio State to overtime in one of the wildest games of the season. The Buckeyes survived 52-51 thanks to that errant throw to a wide-open receiver on a two-point attempt.
When Maryland visits Ohio Stadium next November, it'll be commandeered by new head coach Mike Locksley.
The Big Ten's punching bag will serve as Ohio State's final tuneup before the all-important close to the season.
The Buckeyes have absolutely manhandled the Scarlet Knights in their five matchups, winning each contest by a combined score 271-27. Rutgers has won just seven Big Ten games since joining the league in 2014, and despite diminishing returns with Chris Ash as head coach, the former Ohio State defensive coordinator has been given another year with the program.
After a two-year break, the Big Ten has returned to its method of scheduling an absolute bonkers game for Ohio State right before Michigan week.
In 2015 and 2016, the Buckeyes had to take on rivals in back-to-back weeks to close out the season. Those matchups came against playoff-contender Michigan State. Next year (and in 2021) the Buckeyes will face off against (sort of) rival Penn State.
Ohio State has won the last two matchups in dramatic, come-from behind fashion. If next year's game is remotely as interesting, the Buckeyes could head into Michigan Week running on fumes.
This is it guys. This is the year Michigan does the dang thing. Or at the very least, that's what everyone will say when Day takes his Ohio State squad north for the regular-season finale.
Even though 2018 was supposed to be Jim Harbaugh and Michigan's year, Ohio State flipped the script in historic fashion, hanging 62 points on the top-ranked defense in a convincing 23-point win that wasn't really that close.
With Meyer gone, Harbaugh absolutely has to come away with a win against the Buckeyes, at home, in 2019. But if he can't, Day's first season as the head man at Ohio State will be a success regardless of what happens in the previous 11 games.