Ohio State Football: Ranking 2021 opponents by toughness

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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Akron Zips
Sep. 25 Columbus, Ohio

The Akron Zips are 1-7 all-time against the in-state Buckeyes. To find the one victory, travel back to the 19th century. In 1894, Akron bested Ohio State 12-6. In the 21st century, the teams have met three times with the last meeting occurring ten years ago, a 42-0 drubbing by the Buckeyes.

Akron will have a quarterback competition this year. Kato Nelson was the Zips’ starter for three seasons before missing all of last year due to injury. The fifth-year player will battle last year’s starter Zach Gibson.

The Zips could really use the services of running back Teon Dollard. Last season Dollard earned first-team All-MAC honors. However, his 2021 season is in doubt due to a felony weapons charge.

The Zip defense has several returning and experienced players on their defense. But their lack of playmakers will give them trouble on offense. This should be an easy victory for the Buckeyes.

Michigan State Spartans
Nov. 20 Columbus, Ohio

In the first half of the last decade, the Spartans were one of the toughest games on Ohio State’s schedule. The two teams met once every year between 2011 and 2015, one of the games for the Big Ten championship. All meetings were decided by 12 points or less with the Spartans winning three of them.

Since then, it has been all Buckeyes. The 2016 meeting was decided by a point, but the other games have been decided by an average of 32 points. The 2021 edition looks to be no different.

At this point in the season, the Spartans would have figured out who their quarterback is. It will not matter against the Buckeyes. The Spartans will struggle to get to bowl eligibility this season and traveling to Columbus will almost certainly be a loss.

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