OSU Schedule Countdown: Tie for 10th

With Ohio State's fall camp just weeks away, BuckeyeSports.com is ranking the most intriguing games on the schedule. The series begins at the bottom with a trio of September opponents and will continue with one opponent each weekday over the next two weeks.

Ohio State fans won't have to wait long to see the defending champs in a juicy matchup, but the Buckeye faithful might want to sit out the rest of September after OSU travels to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech in the season opener. The trifecta of Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan has all the visual appeal of Buzz McCallister's girlfriend, leaving no other choice but to put them in a three-way tie for last place in the list of Ohio State's most interesting matchups of the season.

T-10: Hawaii
Nickname: Rainbow Warriors
Conference: Mountain West Conference
Stadium: Aloha Stadium (50,000)
Head coach: Norm Chow (fourth year, 8-29)
Record against Ohio State: First meeting
Returning starters: eight offense, six defense
2014 record: 4-9 (3-5 MWC)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: N/A (2015), No. 96 (2014), No. 80 (2013), No. 107 (2012), No. 82 (2011)
Who to watch: QB Max Wittek, LT Ben Clarke, WR Marcus Kemp, WR Quinton Pedroza, NT Kennedy Tulimasealii

Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
There are a couple of interesting storylines here. Well, not really, but it is the first home game of the season and presumably the one where Ohio State will celebrate its 2014 College Football Playoff title. Plus there’s at least a chance that you get to see Hawaii do the Haka as well as a chance they wear this amazing uniform.

Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
If we’re going by talent alone, Hawaii is unquestionably the worst team on Ohio State’s schedule in 2015. All the preseason annuals seems to agree that there are at least 100 FBS teams better than the Rainbow Warriors, who are averaging less than three wins a season under Norm Chow. If you factor in Ohio State’s short rest (the Buckeyes will be coming off a Monday night game) and Hawaii’s travel (the Warriors play six time zones away), there’s a legitimate chance this is the ugliest game of the season.

T-10: Northern Illinois
Nickname: Huskies
Conference: Mid-American Conference
Stadium: Huskie Stadium (23,595)
Head coach: Rod Carey (third year, 23-6)
Record against Ohio State: 0-1 (35-12 in 2006)
Returning starters: five offense, eight defense
2014 record: 11-3 (7-1 MAC)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: No. 72 (2015), No. 103 (2014), No. 91 (2013), No. 105 (2012), No. 90 (2011)
Who to watch: QB Drew Hare, MLB Boomer Mays, CB Paris Logan, C Andrew Ness, DE Perez Ford

Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
Over the past few years, Northern Illinois could have been a solid Big Ten West team. The Huskies beat Northwestern in 2014 and Iowa and Purdue in 2013 – all on the road. That counts for something, right?

Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
Unlike the matchup against Hawaii, there won’t be any championship celebrations or hakas in this one.

T-10: Western Michigan
Nickname: Broncos
Conference: Mid-American Conference
Stadium: Waldo Stadium (30,200)
Head coach: P.J. Fleck (third year, 9-16)
Record against Ohio State: First meeting
Returning starters: nine offense, seven defense
2014 record: 8-5 (6-2 MAC)
Scout.com recruiting rankings: No. 59 (2015), No. 56 (2014), No. 99 (2013), No. 93 (2012), No. 112 (2011)
Who to watch: RB Jarvion Franklin, WR Corey Davis, QB Zach Terrell, LT Willie Beavers, KR Darius Phillips,

Why This Matchup Could Be Higher:
The Broncos are on the upswing under Fleck, whose Row The Boat mantra has made for some great quotes and solid results. Fleck is one of college football’s most entertaining quotes, so the week leading up to the game should be a fun one. He was an Ohio State assistant under Jim Tressel, which gives the game another fun angle. But more than anything, WMU is a better team than Hawaii and should give Ohio State a better game.

Why This Matchup Could Be Lower:
Northern Illinois is probably better than them, for starters.


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