- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Last week, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Associated Press that the Buckeyes planned to scale back their games against MAC opponents and beef up nonconference schedules to get ready for the four-team playoff.
The first possible evidence of that arrived today, as the Ohio State announced it would play a home-and-home series with TCU in 2018 and 2019. While we can't know how good the Horned Frogs will be in six years, Gary Patterson has turned them into a program with staying power, as TCU ranks fifth among FBS teams with 97 wins the past 10 years. TCU's recent climb paved the way for the school to be accepted into the Big 12.
Relations between the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short time, too. The schools had tentative plans to open the 2009 season in Columbus, but Ohio State refused to give TCU a return game. In 2010, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee lumped then-undefeated TCU and Boise State into his infamous "Little Sisters of the Poor" comment, saying they didn't play a hard enough schedule to deserve a shot at the title.
Now, Ohio State will go to TCU first in this home-and-home deal and views the Horned Frogs as a way to upgrade its schedule. In this week's Associated Press Top 25, the No. 12 Buckeyes are ranked three spots ahead of TCU.
Ohio State is also scheduled to play Cincinnati in 2018 in what has the makings of a pretty good nonconference slate, especially if another major-conference opponent is added. TCU is the only opponent booked so far for the 2019 nonconference schedule. Remember that Ohio State, like other Big Ten schools, was told to reserve some space for the Big Ten/Pac-12 series that fell apart this summer.
Going to Texas for a game also can't hurt Urban Meyer's future recruiting efforts, as he has made it known that he will hunt nationally for players. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is full of big-time prospects every year, and Meyer will be able to promise Texas prospects a game in their home state.
We'll wait to see how the rest of Ohio State's future schedules shape up. But this looks like a good start, and an improvement on the very bland nonconference slate the Buckeyes played last month.
22hDavid M. Hale