The last two seasons have seen the Buckeyes narrowly miss out on the College Football Playoff. The reason for the lack of an Ohio State presence has been – for the most part – thanks to a pair of embarrassing performances in Iowa City and West Lafayette.
Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes checked in at No. 5 before the start of the 2017 bowl season and this past year they were slotted at No. 6. Even a close loss to Iowa (as opposed to a 31-point bloodbath) would almost certainly have had Ohio State in the top four of the playoff rankings. The same can perhaps be said for the 49-20 loss at Purdue, but it's no guarantee it would have finished ahead of both Oklahoma and Georgia.
It's been a bit baffling, but the annual one-game dud has been a real thing over the last few years. Obviously this is something Ryan Day will look to avoid in his first season at the helm in Columbus, but a late-September trip to Lincoln seems destined to be the one that gets folks a bit uneasy in 2019.
|SAT, AUG. 31||FLORIDA ATLANTIC||5-7||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 7||CINCINNATI||11-2||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 14||INDIANA||5-7||MEMORIAL STADIUM (BLOOMINGTON, IN)|
|SAT, SEP. 21||MIAMI (OHIO)||6-6||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, SEP. 28||NEBRASKA||4-8||MEMORIAL STADIUM (LINCOLN, NE)|
|SAT, OCT. 5||MICHIGAN STATE||7-6||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|FRI, OCT. 18||NORTHWESTERN||9-5||RYAN FIELD (EVANSTON, IL)|
|SAT, OCT. 26||WISCONSIN||8-5||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 9||MARYLAND||5-7||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 16||RUTGERS||1-11||HIGH POINT SOLUTIONS STADIUM (PISCATAWAY, NJ)|
|SAT, NOV. 23||PENN STATE||8-4||OHIO STADIUM (COLUMBUS, OH)|
|SAT, NOV. 30||MICHIGAN||10-3||MICHIGAN STADIUM (ANN ARBOR, MI)|
Scott Frost had a rough start to his tenure as Nebraska's head coach. The home opener against Akron was cancelled due to inclement weather and the Cornhuskers then proceeded to lose their first six contests. The losing streak included home defeats against Colorado and Troy.
The team bounced back nicely during the second half of the season with a 4-2 record as it became clear that Frost at least had things heading in the right direction with plenty of young talent; especially at quarterback with sophomore-to-be Adrian Martinez.
Frost's career as a head coach spans just three years following his six seasons in which he helped to lead Oregon's potent attack as the wide receivers/quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. His first year at UCF saw the Knights finish 6-7 before leading the team to a 13-0 campaign in 2017.
Last November we saw Nebraska head to Columbus as a 22.5-point underdog, but it was anything but easy for the Buckeyes to pull out the victory over the then 2-6 Cornhuskers. Ohio State led 16-7 in the first half before a trio of turnovers gave Frost a Co. a 21-16 halftime lead. J.K. Dobbins led the way in what was one of his finest performances. The sophomore tailback ran for 163 yards and three scores as the Buckeyes came out on top by a score of 36-31. A little too close for comfort.
The Huskers other late-season loss? How about a respectable 31-28 defeat at Kinnick Stadium. Nebraska missed a bowl game and while the value of the added practices and preparation would have been huge for the young squad, it was still a strong finish in Lincoln.
Frost is losing his top rusher in Devine Ozigbo and wideout in Stanley Morgan Jr., but Maurice Washington and J.D. Spielman should step in to fill the voids there. The Husker defense was also hit with some departures, especially at linebacker and safety. Overall, another offseason of development for Martinez may be the most exciting thing for fanbase.
Another exciting (and terrifying) piece is the addition of Kentucky all-purpose back Wandale Robinson. The one-time Buckeye target has an eerily similar skill set as Purdue's Rondale Moore, and the early enrollee could be a big-time impact guy from day one in Lincoln.
As far as the Buckeyes are concerned, here in late-January there are plenty of questions that need to be answered before we can really start to speculate too far into the future. The Justin Fields waiver process is certainly right at the top of the list right now. We'll then get some more answers this summer regarding the other pressing questions; namely the offensive line and linebacker pecking orders.
The Sept. 28th matchup is bound to cause a bit of uneasiness around the fanbase. The road trips to Iowa and Purdue were hardly recognized as the past seasons' biggest challenges, and the same can be said for this year's game at Nebraska. Recent history is likely to change that perception a bit, however.
The Buckeyes' most dangerous non-conference game is likely the Sept 7th showdown with Luke Fickell and the Bearcats. A Friday night Big Ten game on the road against Northwestern is going to have a weird feel to it, and that one could certainly present a challenge as well. Ohio State gets Wisconsin and Penn State at home and the season culminates with a trip to Ann Arbor in late November.
But the journey to Memorial Stadium could be the one to watch closely early on as Ryan Day looks to avoid a third-straight season with a conference road loss that could be a back-breaker for the team's playoff hopes.