Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the conference office did the Buckeyes a solid today.
On Wednesday, the Big Ten office announced an updated football schedule for the 2022 season. Very rarely do conference offices make schedule changes this late in the game, but given all of the complications and cancelations that resulted due to Covid-19 in 2020, they felt it necessary to make some tweaks in order to maintain some balance for teams who play on an annual basis, with one team playing back-to-back contests on the road, rivalry games being canceled, and other forms of pandemic related disruptions.
As always, there are a ton of moving parts in these schedules, and there will still be some games moved from their scheduled Saturdays to select Thursdays and Fridays throughout the season. But, just in case you feel the need to have your eyes go completely crossed, here is the entire 2022 Big Ten football scheduling matrix.
Now, let’s get to the most important part of this discussion; how it impacts Ohio State. The previous version of the 2022 slate was not overly difficult from top to bottom for OSU, but it did have a treacherous opening one-two punch when the Buckeyes got to B1G play.
In both the original and updated schedules, Ryan Day’s squad had eight home games and four road games; a favorable quark in the conference’s rotation and OSU’s non-conference plans. But, following the three non-B1G home games to open the season — which obviously went unchanged as they are beyond the purview of the conference office — Ohio State was supposed to dive into Big Ten play with back-to-back games on the road against Penn State (Sept. 24) and Michigan State (Oct. 1).
That is no longer the case as the Buckeyes will now kick off their conference campaign by hosting Wisconsin (Sept. 24) and Rutgers (Oct. 1) before taking that trip to East Lansing. All of OSU’s opponents and the locations of those games remain the same in the updated schedule, it is just their placement on the calendar that was juggled. So Ohio State will still have to travel to Happy Valley, but that game is now back on Halloween weekend (Oct. 29 to be exact), as it was in 2020, and as I believe it should be in perpetuity.
I mean, come on, that game is always a house of horrors, no matter how good the teams are, and when it’s played in State College, most of the fans dress up like ghosts anyway, so it seems like a perfect fit.
But in addition to not opening the B1G schedule with road games against two high quality divisional opponents, another Buckeye benefit from the updated schedule is that they play five-straight home games to kick off the season and have an open date before hosting the reigning Big Ten West champion Iowa Hawkeyes on Oct. 22.
The late-October back-to-back pairing of Iowa and at Penn State appears to be the toughest combination of games on the Buckeyes’ slate — not that pre-season expectations ever end up being completely accurate — and then OSU follows it up with a trip to Evanston, Ill. on Nov. 5 to face Northwestern. Those games against PSU and NU are the only example of consecutive road games for the Buckeyes in 2022.
After OSU gets home from their trip against Chicago’s Big Ten Team™️, they host Indiana and visit Maryland before welcoming their rivals back to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 2018. While the game against the Terps remains as previously scheduled, originally, Ohio State’s penultimate home game of the year was against Wisconsin. But as it currently sits, the last time before The Game that the Buckeyes will face a team coming off of a 2021 winning conference record will be when they host the Hawkeyes in mid-October. Not a bad way to get right before the reigning champs come to town.
All-in-all, the Big Ten office did Ohio State a solid with this updated schedule; no brutal gauntlet to open the conference season, an open date before hosting the defending west division champs, a manageable November before Rivalry Week. If I didn’t know better, I would think that the conference office wants the Buckeyes to do well.