When the Big Ten conference announced its new schedule format for the 2024 and 2025 football seasons, there were sighs of relief among the throngs of Richland County supporters of the OSU Buckeyes.
Though there were many changes, the OSU-Michigan rivalry will continue for the foreseeable future.
The conference itself is undergoing significant changes, marking a new era in college football. With membership extended to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC), 2024 is set to kick off a refreshed season with a 16-team roster and a departure from the traditional divisional format. This expansion also brings a taste of the West Coast to the Midwest, promising thrilling matches that will push the Buckeyes to prove their mettle.
The 2024 season also introduces the Flex Protect Plus model to the game plan. This model features a mix of protected and rotating opponents for universities, ensuring each team will face every other conference opponent at least twice — once on home turf, once away — in a four-year period.
But, of course, the Buckeyes have their sights set on a particular rival: Michigan. The Ohio State-Michigan matchup is among the 11 protected games that will continue to be played annually. These protected match-ups were handpicked to honor historic and geographic rivalries, as well as trophy games, ensuring the traditions of the Big Ten Conference remain strong even as the conference evolves.
With the protected match-ups and the rotating opponents, the Buckeyes will have their work cut out for them. Each season, they will play nine intraconference games, including annual grudge matches and new rivalries.
The Buckeyes are no strangers to the Big Ten Football Championship Game, and they will be aiming to top the overall conference standings once more in 2024. The winner of the season will be determined at this annual event, with tiebreaking procedures to be announced later.
The Big Ten Administrators Council carefully constructed the 2024 and 2025 opponent rotations with several considerations, including maintaining control and flexibility as the college football postseason format evolves, balancing annual travel by distance, regions of the conference, and time zones, balancing historic competitiveness and recent competitive trends, and maximizing television inventory each season.
While the dates for the 2024 football schedule are yet to be announced, one thing is clear: The Ohio State Buckeyes are ready for whatever the new season throws at them. The addition of UCLA and USC to the conference, the implementation of the Flex Protect Plus model, and the continuation of traditional rivalries make for an exhilarating season that Buckeye fans won’t want to miss.
Source, Photo: Big Ten Conference