Skull Session: Ohio State-Youngstown State Could Be a Night Game, ESPN FPI Predicts the Buckeyes’ Season and Greg Schiano Says Time at Ohio State Made Him a Better Coach

By Chase Brown on May 23, 2023 at 5:00 am
Ryan Day

Death, taxes and Justin Fields lookin' fresh in photos. The three guarantees in life.

Let's have a good Tuesday, shall we?

 MAMMA MIA, HERE WE GO AGAIN. Stewart Mandel and Scott Dochterman of The Athletic published an article on Monday that predicted the 2023 college football TV schedule for Weeks 1, 2 and 3 nine days before television networks announce their selections and kickoff times on May 31.

While marquee matchups like LSU vs. Florida State, Colorado vs. TCU (Coach Prime's debut with the Buffaloes), Alabama vs. Texas and a handful of other contests are the “What to Watch For” when those announcements become official, Ohio State fans are more concerned about when and where their team is scheduled to face Indiana, Youngstown State and Western Kentucky. No need to fret, The Athletic had Buckeye Nation covered in its predictions article.

In Week 1, Mandel and Dochterman predict Ohio State and Indiana will battle at noon on Sept. 2 in Bloomington, Indiana, with the matchup to be televised on CBS – the Buckeyes' first appearance on CBS since their 1998 season opener against West Virginia. Overall, Ohio State has a 9-5-1 record on the network in 15 contests between 1982-98.

Sept. 2, 2023  Indiana Bloomington, IN CBS Noon
Sept. 9, 2023 Youngstown State Columbus, OH NBC 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16, 2023 Western Kentucky Columbus, OH TBD TBD

That's all good and well. I would love to see that. But then we arrive at Week 2, where Mandel and Dochterman believe Ohio State will host Youngstown State at 7:30 p.m. on NBC... Oof.

I understand my gameday experience differs from 99% of Buckeye fans. A 7:30 p.m. kickoff means I arrive at Ohio Stadium around 4:30 p.m. and don't leave the Shoe until at least 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., depending on the length of postgame interviews with Ryan Day and others. That said, the earlier the start time, the better for me.

I cannot deny the appeal of a kickoff under the lights inside Ohio Stadium. It's pretty sweet. But it's less sweet when that opponent is Youngstown State rather than USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Penn State or Michigan State. I don't know – as fans, would you really want to wait around all day and watch the Buckeyes crush the Penguins? I suppose we all have practice with Akron in 2021 and Toledo in 2022. Still, those games were forgettable the week after they happened. The Youngstown State matchup would fall in the same category.

At any rate, that's where Mandel and Dochterman have Ohio State's season opener with Indiana and home opener with Youngstown State on their predicted TV schedule. As for Western Kentucky, the writers did not have the Buckeyes and Hilltoppers listed on the national channels, which tells me they expect that matchup to end up on BTN. That is probably where it should be, as it will be an absolute bloodbath.

Reminder: Mandel and Dochterman did not report facts. Instead, they predicted future TV schedules, which means all of their prognostications are not set in stone and could turn out differently on May 31. 

 COMPUTERS LIKE THE BUCKEYES. In February, ESPN updated its Football Power Index for 2023, selecting Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama as the best teams with six months until the next college football season.

The Buckeyes were (and are still) the No. 1 team in the rankings with an FPI of 31.5, an expected record of 11.8-1.0, an 82.2% chance to make the CFP, a 57.2% chance to reach the CFP national championship and a 36.7% chance to win the title. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs were directly behind them, with LSU, Texas, Michigan and USC as the next-best programs.

With Ohio State as the No. 1 team overall, it is no surprise that the Buckeyes ranked first in the Big Ten in FPI for 2023. Still, let's look at some of the numbers of other programs in the conference for next season:

  • Ohio State – FPI: 31.5, Record: 11.8-1.0
  • Michigan – FPI: 21.4, Record: 10.0-2.1
  • Penn State – FPI: 17.5, Record: 9.3-2.7
  • Wisconsin – FPI: 12.3, Record: 8.6-3.8
  • Michigan State – FPI: 8.7, Record: 6.9-5.1
  • Minnesota – FPI: 7.7, Record: 6.5-5.7
  • Iowa – FPI: 7.3, Record: 7.4-4.8
  • Maryland – FPI: 5.6, Record: 6.6-5.4
  • Illinois – FPI: 5.5, Record: 6.8-5.4
  • Purdue – FPI: 4.4, Record: 5.4-6.7
  • Nebraska – FPI: 3.1, Record: 5.7-6.3
  • Northwestern – FPI: -1.1, Record: 4.9-7.2
  • Indiana – FPI: -2.9, Record: 3.9-8.1
  • Rutgers – FPI: -3.2, Record: 4.1-7.9

While the numbers and stats featured above are not new, ESPN updated its Matchup Predictor for each of Ohio State's 12 regular-season opponents last week, and those numbers and stats certainly are. Here is a look at what ESPN's computers think about the Buckeyes' chances to win each game in 2023:

  • At Indiana, Sept. 2 – 98%
  • Youngstown State, Sept. 9 – 99%
  • Western Kentucky, Sept. 16 – 99%
  • At Notre Dame, Sept. 23 – 79.3%
  • Maryland, Oct. 7 – 97.5%
  • At Purdue, Oct. 14 – 95.6%
  • Penn State, Oct. 21 – 88.4%
  • At Wisconsin, Oct. 28 – 89.1%
  • At Rutgers, Nov. 4 – 97.7%
  • Michigan State, Nov. 11 – 95.8%
  • Minnesota, Nov. 18 – 96.4%
  • At Michigan, Nov. 25 – 71.4%

Ohio State's 2023 season will be determined by its ability to take each game one week at a time. Then, of course, it will be defined by how it performs against the team that wears maize and blue in Ann Arbor.

Just beat Michigan, and the rest of those numbers and stats featured above (making the CFP, reaching the national championship and winning a title) will take care of itself. It really should be that straightforward. One can hope, at least.

 SCHIANO REFLECTS ON OHIO STATE. Greg Schiano will enter the fourth season of his second stint at Rutgers in 2023. Before he does that, the veteran football coach has made some rounds on that national media circuit, including a podcast interview on Next Up with Adam Breneman.

In that interview, Breneman asked Schiano about his time as an assistant at Ohio State. This allowed him to reflect on his experiences working for Urban Meyer and his relationship with Ryan Day. Here is what Schiano said about his tenure in Columbus:

"It was super. It was really good for me to go back and be an assistant coach after being a head coach for so many years. It's very different. And it really forced me to (say) is what I believed really true? Or did I forget what it really is like? And the answer was yes or no. So a lot of it is true. And some of it, I really forgot what it was like. And there were things that, you know, Urban did a great job at Ohio State. Obviously, look at the record. There’s certain things that he did that I didn’t agree with. But as I talked to our staff about, it’s all about vertical alignment. And Coach (Joe) Paterno used to say all the time, we’d argue things out in the staff meeting room, but at the end he said okay, this is it, and I took from him is now you have to go coach it or administer it like it’s your idea.

"But it’s like, because these guys, these players, they sniff that out right away if you don’t believe it. Players are smart and they play football. We’re coaching, they’re playing, they know when we’re passionate about an idea or when we’re just doing it because our higher-ups told us to. There were times I had to shut the door in my office a few times and convince myself that, 'OK, this was your idea.'

"Some guys are lifelong assistants, and they can handle it. Other guys get to a point in their career where they can’t. That was great for me. Because then coming back to be a head coach, I can think and say you know what, I remember how this made me feel at Ohio State. Am I perfect? No, as I am sure my assistants would say. But I do think I am a lot better of a head coach because of those experiences – because of the tough times I had in Tampa and because of the Ohio State experience. I learned a lot about recruiting from Urban. Urban was one of the elite, if not the elite recruiter in the country. So yeah, they’re all good experiences. And again, to end up back here, the situation and the circumstances that made that possible, I consider it a blessing."

Those words paint a better picture of Schiano than when he ran across the field at Ohio Stadium ready to throw hands with the entire Ohio State sideline after Jesse Mirco successfully converted a fake punt on fourth down with the Buckeyes up 49-10.

As mentioned above, Ohio State will travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, to battle the Scarlet Knights on Nov. 4. ESPN's Matchup Predictor claims the Buckeyes have a 97.7% chance to win that contest.

 GOT LINEBACKERS? Over the weekend, Ohio State football hosted a golf outing for former coaches and players at The OSU Golf Club. There, a Fearsome Foursome of Buckeye linebackers including James Laurinaitis, Anthony Schlegel, Bobby Carpenter and A.J. Hawk was created. Laurinaitis posted a photo of that quartet on Saturday.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Get Down On It” by Kool & The Gang.

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