Ohio State football has six games left in the 2021 regular season. It'd be understandable if you had only circled/underlined/SWAK'd the three that prudence would deem most necessary to pay close attention to: a triumvirate of top ten opponents named Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan. Maybe you've set aside other life commitments to keep those weekends free, with the acknowledgement from your friends and loved ones that you might just have to miss the boat on Ohio State taking on Indiana in favor of a bris that simply can't be rescheduled.
And you're not exactly happy about having to do so, but you feel less nervous about skipping an Ohio State football game because against the refuse of the Big Ten, Ryan Day and company should have everything well in hand.
That's dumb and wrong!
My guess is that most people reading this don't need to be reminded to listen to that voice in their head that keeps screaming at them about imminent doom, but if you're young enough to consider the 2018 Purdue game an unrepeatable blip on the radar and also are dumb enough to have forgotten about the Iowa loss the year before, allow me to disabuse you of that notion. In 2007, Ohio State student Johnny Ginter sat angrily in the stands for a long, long after No. 1 Ohio State blew it against Juice Williams and the Illini, and vowed that he'd never view any game as a given. He then broke that vow multiple times since, and it has bitten him in the ass.
And maybe that's a rite of passage for fans of Ohio State football. Watch long enough and Purdue or Illinois or Michigan State or whoever will eventually beat the Buckeyes (despite being three touchdown underdogs), and you just kind of have to deal with it forever.
But you know what? Not this season, man! Not us! We're not gonna get got, like Iowa fans did yesterday! Here's how Ohio State can avoid the three trap games left on their schedule:
INDIANA (OCTOBER 23RD)
Stop the quarterback. The Hoosiers have a not-terrible defense, which means that your latent anxiety can safely ignore that and instead worry about the potential return of Michael Penix, Jr. from injury. Jack Tuttle was in at quarterback against Michigan State and threw it 52 times for a grand total of 188 yards, which of course sets up Penix to return next week and pass for 500 yards or something stupid. This stupid thing must not be allowed to come to pass. Plus, it's a night game? Get the hell out of here.
NEBRASKA (NOVEMBER 6TH)
Scott Frost is probably going to get fired at the end or middle of this season, which I'm hoping doesn't engender any kind of "Win One For The Gipper" feelings in the Cornhuskers by the time Ohio State rolls into town. Score big and score early; the longer the game goes on with an indeterminant outcome, the more Nebraska might start to believe that this is the one game in 2021 that they'll enjoy remembering.
PURDUE (NOVEMBER 13TH)
I hate this! I hate everything about this! A game against a supposedly mediocre team right before a two-week gauntlet to end the season? And it's the Boilermakers? If I'm Ohio State, the move here is to make sure that highlights from 2018 are played on a loop in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and do everything possible to ward off whatever horrible karmic realignment that the universe might foist upon them in the middle of November.
The long and short of it is that this is truly a six-game season going forward. 2021 is already creeping into bonkers 2007-ish territory, and if Ohio State wants to make some noise in the playoff it will have to avoid getting snakebit in the most devastating way possible.