Ranking the 2024 Ohio State football schedule

Things start out well, but the Buckeyes will still have some challenges to avoid along the way
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The end of May is always one of those areas on the calendar that draws my attention, as 1) college football magazines start to appear in stores, and 2) the networks begin to announce the kickoff times for the early season games. It is the latter point that leads me to rank the 2024 Ohio State opponents, from my perception of easiest to most difficult.

Before I proceed too much further, I want to emphasize that this upcoming Ohio State is not one of the most difficult that the Buckeyes have ever faced. Ohio State has the advantage of playing their first three games at home, before having to take to the road at the end of September. More on that below.

12. Akron: 08/31/2024, 3:30pm ET kickoff, CBS

No disrespect to the Zips, but the fact that the oddsmakers have already established a betting line of -50.5 favoring the Buckeyes should give everyone an idea as to how this one will go. Ohio State usually has an impressive home opener, and this one should be no exception.

11. Western Michigan: 09/07/2024, 7:30pm ET kickoff, The Big Ten Network

Kind of a surprise for the Buckeyes to get a night game with this one, but here's another one where the Buckeyes should be heavily favored. Western Michigan finished 4-8 in 2023, losing 48-7 at Syracuse and 41-10 at Iowa, in games last season.

10. Marshall: 09/21/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

In 2023, Marshall went to the Scooter's Coffee Frisco Bowl, losing 35-17 to UTSA, to wind up 6-7. Ohio State has played Marshall twice, surviving a nail-biter in 2004 (24-21), and then dominated the Thundering Herd in 2010, 45-7. Something tells me that this game will be more like the 2010 game when it is all done.

9. at Michigan State: 09/28/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

This game used to be a down-to-the-wire affair, but it has been lopsided heavily in Ohio State's favor ever since the Buckeyes lost a heartbreaker at home in 2015 that cost them a chance at repeating as national champions. New Michigan State head coach Jonathan Smith was a terrific choice to help rebuild the Spartans, but this seems likely to be another game that the Buckeyes will dominate.

8. Purdue: 11/09/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

If this game was in West Lafayette, I would probably rank it higher in terms of difficulty for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes have had their issues playing there over the years. Purdue finished 4-8 in 2023, and second-year head coach Ryan Walters will have his hands full trying to get the Boilermakers into bowl contention this upcoming season.

7. Indiana: 11/23/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

The Hoosiers have hit the reset button, hiring Curt Cignetti to take over the program. Cignetti achieved success at James Madison, Elon, and IUP in previous coaching stops, but the Hoosiers are going to take some time to get back to the level of respectability that they briefly had in the Tom Allen era.

6. at Northwestern: 11/16/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

The Wildcats were a surprise team in 2023 under David Braun, concluding their season with a 14-7 win over Utah in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl, to finish 8-5. Ohio State does not know what time kickoff will be, but the Buckeyes do know that they will be playing the Wildcats in Wrigley Field for this one.

5. Nebraska: 10/26/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

Matt Rhule has the Cornhuskers pointed in the right direction and should be able to get Nebraska back into a bowl game this season. Look at Nebraska's schedule - UTEP, Colorado, N. Iowa, Illinois, at Purdue, Rutgers, and at Indiana, before the game versus Ohio State. It will not be surprising if Nebraska is undefeated coming into Ohio State for this one.

4. Iowa: 10/05/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

Cue all the snickering about Iowa's offense, but the Hawkeyes finished 10-4 in 2023. New Iowa offensive coordinator Tim Lester will do what he can to get the Hawkeyes to have a consistent offensive attack, but longtime Ohio State fans will acknowledge that Kirk Ferentz's teams have been traditionally strong defensively and on special teams. This should be a good test for Ohio State before they have to go on the road to Oregon (more on that below).

3. at Penn State: 11/02/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

Perhaps I am in the minority with this opinion, but I am going to be on the record as hoping that this game will be the FOX "Big Noon Kickoff" game when it is eventually announced. Yes, Ohio State has won in Beaver Stadium every time since the 2016 season, but a night game "White Out" environment would only amplify Ohio State's difficulty in winning this game.

2. Michigan: 11/30/2024, 12pm ET kickoff, FOX

Maybe this ranking will come as a surprise, but "THE GAME" is not, in my estimation, the most difficult game on Ohio State's 2024 schedule. Is it the game that Ryan Day, Jim Knowles, James Laurinaitis, Emeka Egbuka, Jack Sawyer, etc., are most focused on? Absolutely. Do I believe that the Wolverines will be an easy game for the Buckeyes? Not at all. This game could determine which team will be in The B1G Championship Game, and that leads me to...

1. at Oregon: 10/12/2024, Kickoff and network TBD

Oregon is highly ranked by most of the preseason prognosticators, and this game in Autzen Stadium should be one of the biggest games of the college football season. Ohio State will be making its first trip to Oregon since 1967, and the Buckeyes will be looking to avenge their 35-28 home loss from the 2021 season.

At this time, Ohio State is actually a +1 underdog to Oregon in this game. It would not surprise me if this is the first time that these two teams will play this season, but not the last, as The B1G will match up the top two teams in the conference championship game on December 7th in Indianapolis.


Twelve games and it will be interesting to see if my rankings of difficulty wind up being accurate or wildly off the mark. \No matter, the college football season is getting closer and closer to kickoff on August 31st.