Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer before Saturday's game against Maryland. The Buckeyes are likely to play four of five Big Ten road games at night, and likely all of their conference home games during the day. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
COLUMBUS — By the time the Big Ten season is finished, Ohio State likely will have played four of its five road games at night – which is far too many as far as Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is concerned.
The No. 9 Buckeyes will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Nebraska on Saturday, their third road game at night this season. Further, OSU’s Nov. 4 game at Iowa is also likely to be a night game at Kinnick Stadium.
Meyer said Wednesday that so many night starts away from home is asking too much of the players.
“I understand TV contracts are kind of ruling, but when you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road,” Meyer said. “I talked to [director of athletics] Gene Smith about it and I’m going to bring it up to our commissioner, [Jim Delany]. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at four o’clock in the morning four times. You don’t do that.”
Depending on the start time and location, Ohio State’s return flight typically touches down between 4 or 5 a.m. Sunday after a road game at night.
From Meyer’s vantage point – and from many players as well – night games are difficult on the routines of the players.
“Night games are fun, but at the same time, you get back super late and it throws off our sleeping,” left tackle Jamarco Jones said. “You can’t really get much sleep because we still have to come in and practice that day. It isn’t fun at all, really.”
Game times are determined through the Big Ten’s lucrative television contracts, which make league games available for primetime slots.
Meyer advocated for playing a maximum of two night games on the road per season.
“In my opinion, very strong opinion, when I start thinking about players and what’s expected of them during the week, if you can’t recover, you don’t get those hours back,” Meyer said. “I’m talking about academically, I’m talking about just your body, and the student-athlete welfare. They should not play four night games on the road.”
KICKING WOES: Meyer lamented last week – after OSU allowed a long kick-return touchdown to Maryland – that Ohio State was “the only team in the country” who couldn’t find someone to kick the ball down the field. Going into this week, Meyer said he thinks the Buckeyes have the issue solved.
“I don’t want to blame the kicker; it’s the coaching,” Meyer said. “We’re making some adjustments and we’ll see how it goes.”
MORE TO GO: Receiver Binjimen Victor has 14 catches this season, and four of them went for touchdowns. Victor has caught touchdowns in back-to-back games and has emerged as perhaps OSU’s most dangerous receiver.
Still, Meyer said the 6-foot-4 true sophomore has not yet come close to reaching his potential.
“It’s amazing to say this, but we’re not even scratching the surface of his ability level,” Meyer said. “He’s got so much more left. We haven’t seen near the ceiling for what he has ability-wise.”