COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The days when Ohio State regularly entertained a Mid-American Conference school may be coming to an end because of the new FBS playoff system.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the four-team FBS playoff may mean fewer games against MAC teams.
"We're changing our philosophy because we're obviously going to move into a playoff structure that I don't think all of us really understand yet, how the committee's going to work," Smith said earlier this week. "Many of us are assuming it's going to work similar to the (NCAA tournament) basketball committee, so your non-conference schedule will come into consideration as they evaluate whether or not you're going to be one of those final four teams."
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play MAC members Buffalo in 2013, Kent State in 2014, Northern Illinois in 2015 and Bowling Green in 2016 -- all at Ohio Stadium. Because of the iffy status of the playoffs and the number of Big Ten games Ohio State might play, the schedule is incomplete starting with the 2017 season. The Buckeyes' website only lists two games so far for 2017.
The Buckeyes have played MAC teams almost annually since ending a 58-year span without meeting an Ohio or MAC team in 1992. Ohio State has played MAC teams 20 times since then, sometimes two in the same season, as was the case in 2011.
The Buckeyes have had numerous close calls against MAC teams, including a 27-22 victory a year ago over Toledo. Ohio State has paid upward of $1 million for MAC schools to provide opposition.
Smith said the committee that will decide the final four teams in the playoffs starting in 2014 will take into consideration strength of schedule, meaning the Buckeyes likely will go for more name-brand opponents from big conferences.
"As we move to 2018 and out, because we're all set for our games through 2017, we're looking at a different scheduling format," Smith said. "So we'll still play a MAC school on occasion, but not nearly as much as we have in the past."
The MAC includes six schools from Ohio who have provided the majority of opposition for Ohio State from the conference: Ohio, Toledo, Bowling Green, Akron, Kent State and Miami (Ohio).
MAC teams beat four opponents last Saturday from Bowl Championship Series conferences that are automatic qualifiers for major bowl slots.