Early schedule snapshot: Ohio State

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

In what has become a trend, Ohio State once again will play the Big Ten's premier nonconference game this season as USC visits Columbus on Sept. 12. Here's a look at the Buckeyes' full 2009 slate.


Sept. 5 Navy

Sept. 12 USC

Sept. 19 Toledo (at Cleveland)

Oct. 31 New Mexico State

My take: The Buckeyes' philosophy of scheduling one national showcase game and three revenue-generating contests holds true again this season. USC provides an excellent barometer for a young Ohio State team trying to regain its swagger in big games. A win against the Trojans could put the Buckeyes in the BCS title mix. A home loss, and especially a lopsided one, would reinforce the perception about Ohio State and the Big Ten. So there's definitely risks and rewards with the game, which makes it more exciting for players, coaches and fans. Navy is a well-respected team that should provide Ohio State a nice Week 1 test. The Buckeyes won't have any trouble with Toledo or New Mexico State.


Sept. 26 Illinois

Oct. 3 at Indiana

Oct. 10 Wisconsin

Oct. 17 at Purdue

Oct. 24 Minnesota

Nov. 7 at Penn State

Nov. 14 Iowa

Nov. 21 at Michigan

Byes: Michigan State, Northwestern

My take: Aside from the trip to Beaver Stadium -- the last place Ohio State lost a Big Ten road game (2005) -- the schedule favors Jim Tressel's squad. The Buckeyes open with three of five at home and make trips to arguably the league's two worst teams in Indiana and Purdue. Should Ohio State knock off USC, it could be 8-0 heading to Happy Valley. November won't be easy with games against Penn State, Iowa and archrival Michigan, which should be much improved by the time Ohio State visits the Big House. So it's important the Buckeyes avoid October stumbles. Though the Buckeyes have dominated Michigan State this decade and Northwestern for several decades, they won't mind having two teams that finished in the league's upper half off of the 2009 slate.