As we count down the days to the return of football, here’s a look at the non-Big Ten teams Ohio State will tangle with in 2018:
1. The Buckeyes’ first opponent could be their worst of all.
Oregon State was terrible last year (1-11) and probably will still be terrible this year.
The Beavers have a new head coach (alumnus Jonathan Smith) who looks like a good hire as an OSU grad who worked under the esteemed Chris Petersen at Washington.
(The other top contenders for worst opponent are also not really Big Ten teams: Tulane, Rutgers and Maryland.)
2. There is something interesting about Oregon State, though.
Beavers defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar spent the last three seasons at Wisconsin. That means he knows how to coach effective linebackers and has some familiarity with Ohio State’s scheme.
It probably won’t be enough to save Oregon State (No. 127 in defensive S&P+ last season), but it could complicate things, especially early when the Buckeyes will also still be feeling things out in all likelihood.
Openers are often weird anyway, but maybe this is a reason not to take whatever the points in what is sure to be a massive spread.
3. TCU should be good, but not Oklahoma good.
Ohio State faces the Horned Frogs (11-3 last season) in week three (after a visit from Rutgers), and things could get pretty interesting on the “neutral” field in Arlington, Texas.
TCU ranks as the Buckeyes' fourth-best opponent according to S&P+ thanks to what is expected to be a typically good defense for head coach Gary Patterson.
The Horned Frogs (21st in Phil Steele’s power poll) will be breaking in a new quarterback, likely to be highly regarded Shawn Robinson, who could take TCU to new heights on that side of the ball.
4. Tulane (5-7 last season) could be really good on offense but really bad on defense.
The third nonconference foe for Ohio State comes to Columbus on Sept. 22.
Phil Steele rates the Green Wave 96th while they check in 98th in S&P+.
Third-year coach Willie Fritz is known for his innovative offenses, and he’ll have an experienced, dual-threat quarterback in senior Jonathan Banks.
S&P+ projects Tulane to have the No. 41 offense and 122nd defense.
5. This slate should serve the Buckeyes well.
Oregon State provides an easy opener, TCU beefs up the resume without being as risky as playing a true blue blood and Tulane might be just good enough to keep the Buckeyes interested a week before a trip to Penn State.
Adding a test beyond conference play is good, but the College Football Playoff committee announced last year there’s no point in overdoing it when they chose Alabama over the Buckeyes even though the Crimson Tide didn’t beat anybody.