Michigan Will Be Ohio State’s Only Protected Annual Opponent As Big Ten Scraps Divisions

By Dan Hope on June 8, 2023 at 4:17 pm
Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Michigan in 2022

When the Big Ten goes divisionless in 2024, Michigan will be the only team Ohio State plays on an annual basis.

Under the Big Ten’s new scheduling model, which was announced by the conference on Thursday, Michigan will be the only protected rival for Ohio State. The Buckeyes will play all of the other 15 teams in the conference, which will include USC and UCLA next season, at least once every two years with at least one home game and at least one away game every four years, as the Big Ten will continue to play a nine-game conference schedule.

Most notably, that means Ohio State will no longer play Penn State every year. The Buckeyes will play the Nittany Lions in State College in 2024, but are not scheduled to play Penn State in 2025.

As a result of the new divisionless format, Ohio State will play only three of the same teams in both 2024 and 2025: Michigan, Illinois and Northwestern. All 16 Big Ten schools will play three of the same teams in both 2024 and 2025 regardless of how many protected opponents they have, with the non-protected opponents being considered “two-play” opponents that will alternate every two years.

The Buckeyes will play all three of those teams at home in 2024, when Ohio State will also host Iowa and Rutgers. Ohio State will travel to Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and UCLA in 2024.

USC will play its first conference game against Ohio State in 2025, when the Buckeyes will host the Trojans in addition to Indiana, Maryland and Nebraska. Ohio State will travel to Illinois, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin in the second year of the new Big Ten scheduling model.

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