Ohio State's new football schedule for the 2020 season has been announced.
As part of a 10-game, Big Ten-only regular season schedule announced by the conference on Wednesday, Ohio State is now scheduled to begin its season on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Illinois, while its game against Michigan has been moved up to Oct. 24 and its new regular-season finale will be played against Iowa on Nov. 21.
|THURSDAY, SEPT. 3
|@ ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
|SATURDAY, SEPT. 12
|RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
|SATURDAY, SEPT. 19
|@ PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
|SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
|SATURDAY, OCT. 3
|SATURDAY, OCT. 10
|SATURDAY, OCT. 17
|@ MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
|SATURDAY, OCT. 24
|SATURDAY, OCT. 31
|@ MARYLAND TERRAPINS
|SATURDAY, NOV. 7
|@ PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
|SATURDAY, NOV. 14
|SATURDAY, NOV. 21
|SATURDAY, NOV. 28
|SATURDAY, DEC. 5
|BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Assuming the Ohio State-Illinois game is played as scheduled, it will be the fourth time Ohio State has opened its football season on a Thursday. The Buckeyes previously played Thursday openers at home against Wyoming in 1997 and against Marshall in 2010 and on the road at Indiana in 2017. Ohio State is already scheduled to play a Thursday road opener again next season at Minnesota.
Over the course of the season, Ohio State is set to play five home games at Ohio Stadium and five road games at other Big Ten venues, assuming all games are able to be played as scheduled. Should that happen, it will be the first time Ohio State has ever played 10 regular-season games (not including the Big Ten Championship Game) against Big Ten opponents in one year.
The new schedule includes three bye weeks for each team, including a uniform bye week on Nov. 28, giving the conference the flexibility to move the start of the season back as needed and reschedule games over the course of the year. The Big Ten Championship Game is still scheduled for Dec. 5 as of now, but could be moved back as far as Dec. 19, according to a release by the Big Ten on Wednesday morning.
Big Ten teams are permitted to begin camp this week; as a result of its season opener being moved up by two days, Ohio State is expected to begin fall camp on Thursday.
Wednesday's announcement by the Big Ten, which was the first conference to announce it would move to conference-only schedules for the 2020 season on July 9, falls in line with the rest of the Power 5 conferences which are all now set to play either 10 or 11 regular-season games with no more than one non-conference game this year. The Pac-12 and SEC are both also set to play 10-game conference-only schedules, with their seasons set to begin on Sept. 26, while the ACC plans to play 10 conference games and one non-conference game beginning Sept. 12 and the Big 12 plans to play nine conference games and one non-conference game beginning in “mid-to-late September.”
Before the cancellation of non-conference games, Ohio State was originally scheduled to play its first three games against Bowling Green, Oregon and Buffalo on Sept. 5, 12 and 19. Ohio State's conference-only schedule now includes a Week 3 game at Purdue in addition to its nine originally scheduled Big Ten opponents.
While the new schedule also remains subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Wednesday's schedule release does not serve as a guarantee that the season will start as scheduled now, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has said playing conference games only gives the Big Ten the necessary flexibility to adjust its schedule over the course of the season as needed, increasing the chances that they will be able to play at least a partial football season this fall.
“If we're able to play in September and something occurs in late September or early October, we can pause,” Smith said last month. “We can hit the pause button and provide a window of opportunity for our student-athletes not to be put at risk. We can move games. If we're scheduled to play somewhere else and an outbreak occurs in that environment and that school has to shut down, then we can change games. The flexibility – I can't say that enough – is significant.”
Smith acknowledged in a statement on Wednesday, however, that Wednesday's schedule release does not guarantee that football will be played this fall.
“This is not a final decision that there will be an athletics season; it is the next phase in our responsible planning process with the Big Ten Conference to be prepared if we are able to have an athletics season,” Smith said. “The final decision will be made in the coming weeks in consultation with local, state and federal authorities.”
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said the same during an interview with BTN on Wednesday.
“I feel comfortable as we sit here today, but it's a fluid situation,” Warren said. “There's no guarantee that we will have fall sports or football season, but we're doing everything we possibly can that if we're so blessed to be able to have fall sports, that things are organized and done in a very methodical and professional manner.
“It would be purely speculation for me to sit here today and say, ‘This is what percent I think we'll have a season.’ I know from my standpoint, I'm taking this entire process, this entire journey on a day-to-day basis. I'm staying focused, I'm staying prayerful to do the right thing, and I look forward to hopefully one day being able to turn around and say that we did everything we could in the Big Ten to keep our student-athletes healthy and safe both mentally and physically during this journey, and that we learned a lot during this process, and that we created an environment that they know is safe for them to compete in intercollegiate athletics.”
The Big Ten did not announce schedules for any of its other fall sports on Wednesday, but the start dates for those sports have been postponed through at least Sept. 5.
“Administrators, coaches, and conference staff have been working daily to create schedules that provide the appropriate levels of flexibility to respond in real-time to necessary changes,” the Big Ten's statement reads.