The game will move to Oct. 18 from Oct. 19 as part of the plan adopted by the Big Ten starting with the 2017 season to play several Friday night games each year — a plan that changed almost as soon as it was announced.
The league declared in the fall of 2016 that starting in 2017, as part of its new TV contract, it would play three non-conference games on Friday and three conference games on Friday each season. While schools like Michigan and Penn State were adamant about not playing Friday night home games, Ohio State was more open to it and said it would host a Friday night game once every three seasons, usually in mid-October. The Buckeyes also said they were fine with Friday road games.
And then in 2017, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith backed off that stance, saying he didn’t believe Ohio State would be part of any Friday night games. The Ohio High School Athletic Association was one of the groups that had made it clear it didn’t like the idea of the Buckeyes playing on Friday night.
Northwestern, it turned out, also pushed back hard when it was scheduled for two Friday night games in 2017, and both those games were moved back to Saturday. The league as a whole backed off from its initial six-game Friday commitment.
Only five Friday night games were played in 2017, just one of them a conference game. In 2018, four Friday games were played, two of them conference games.
So what happened now?
We’re going to assume this falls under the category of “sometimes you must do what TV wants you to do.”
Schools like Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana should be happy to play on a Friday and get a little extra exposure. Ohio State gets exposure whenever it plays.
But Nebraska played one Friday game in 2017. Penn State played one in 2018. Now, TV wants the rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship game on a Friday in 2019. Both schools are off the week before the Friday game, which will help with the short week.
Sometimes, TV wins.
Ohio State last played at Northwestern in 2013, when the No. 4 Buckeyes beat the No. 16 Wildcats 40-30 in an ABC primetime matchup that served as one of the biggest home games in Northwestern history.
OHIO STATE 2019 SCHEDULE
Aug. 31 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 7 Cincinnati
Sept. 14 at Indiana
Sept. 21 Miami, Ohio
Sept. 28 at Nebraska
Oct. 5 Michigan State
Oct. 12 Off
Oct. 18 at Northwestern
Oct. 26 Wisconsin
Nov. 2 Off
Nov. 9 Maryland
Nov. 16 at Rutgers
Nov. 23 Penn State
Nov. 30 at Michigan