An Early Look Ahead at Ohio State's Non-Conference Slate for 2019

By David Wertheim on February 16, 2019 at 8:45 am
Luke Fickell
Gary A. Vasquez- USA TODAY Sports

After several years in a row featuring marquee Big-12 opponents, Ohio State's non-conference schedule looks a little lax- at least on the surface.

The Buckeyes have three home out-of-conference games this year, and none of them come against Power-5 teams. The Buckeyes will take on Florida Atlantic in the season opener, followed by Cincinnati a week later, and Miami (OH) on Sep. 21 in week four.

Let's take a brief look at these games.

Florida Atlantic: Week One, Aug. 31

The Buckeyes will open their season in August against one of College Football's most notorious coaches: Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin, of course, was once the head coach at USC and Tennessee, but has settled in nicely in Boca Raton. In his first season at the school, Kiffin led the Owls to an 11-3 record, a conference championship, and a win in the Boca Raton Bowl.

His team did suffer a setback last year, finishing the season just 5-7, thus not being able to compete in a bowl game.

This season, the Owls return a good amount of talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Chris Robison, who will be a true sophomore. The Owls also bring back tight end Harrison Bryant, who caught 45 passes for 662 yards a year ago.

There is no doubt that with Kiffin's boisterous style of play, that this will be a fun one to watch in Ryan Day's debut as the full-time Ohio State head coach.

Cincinnati: Week Two, Sept. 7

Ohio State will see a familiar face the week after the opener when they take on Luke Fickell and the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Like Florida Atlantic, UC will return a ton of talent from a year ago, including quarterback Desmond Ridder. Running back Michael Warren, who rushed for 1,329 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago, will also return, as will senior tight end Josiah Degura, who caught 38 passes for 468 yards and five touchdowns.

All these skill players, as well as a stout defense, led the Bearcats to an 11-2 record and a victory over Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl.

An interesting note came a few weeks ago when Fickell was reportedly offered the West Virginia head coaching position, but declined it to stay at Cincinnati.

Now, Fickell will have a chance to beat the program that helped make him into what he is today in Columbus.

Miami (OH): Week Four, Sept. 21

While Ohio State will obviously be heavy favorites in all three of these contests, there is no doubt that they will be given the biggest point spread in this one.

In his five seasons at Miami, head coach Chuck Martin has never finished better than 6-6, and in their one bowl appearance during that time, the Redhawks lost.

It is interesting to note this statistic: in one-score games since Martin took over as head coach at Miami, the Redhawks are 7-20.

I am not expecting this game to be within one score, obviously, but it does mean that perhaps Miami has been a little better than their record would state.

Overall, while on the surface it may appear that Ohio State's non-conference schedule is extremely lackluster this year, the Buckeyes will have at least two interesting games, if not for the teams themselves, for the men in charge of them. Day vs. Kiffin and Fickell in his first two head coaching matchups as the permanent head honcho should be fun to watch.

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