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Copyright 2014 The Columbus Dispatch
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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

At least one tradition in college football will remain the same this year: The Ohio State-Michigan game to end the season will kick off during the day.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said the game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines won't move to prime time on Nov. 29, even though OSU is already scheduled to play a record five night games this season.

"Dave Brandon, the athletic director at Michigan, and I constantly have conversations that that should not be a night game, and it will not be a night game," Smith said. "It won't be (at night) this year, nor in following years."

Ohio State announced yesterday that its home game on Sept. 13 against Kent State will start at noon and be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, leaving the Buckeyes with undetermined kickoff times for home games against Michigan and Indiana (Nov. 22) and road games against Maryland (Oct. 4) and Minnesota (Nov. 15).

Smith said those four games will start during the day, although start times might not be determined by television until about two weeks before their dates.

The Buckeyes will play an unprecedented three home night games, including the home opener on Sept. 6 against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. They also play Cincinnati at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27 and Illinois at 8 p.m. on Nov. 1.

"I don't know what the magic number is in regards to the number of night games you should have," Smith said. "Keep in mind: Two of our night games are on the road. We have three at home. Those are the ones I worry about the most.

"We have fans who travel in, who drive in. That's an issue. I get a couple of emails on that issue: 'I hate night games. I'm not coming to night games.' I apologize, but the reality is there's a novelty to (night games) that's pretty cool. A lot of our fans love them."

Nighttime road games will be against Penn State (8 p.m. on Oct. 25) and Michigan State (8 p.m. on Nov. 8), a rematch of last season's Big Ten championship game.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has lobbied the Big Ten for more prime-time games, in part to help recruiting. The conference doesn't officially limit its members in terms of how many night games it can schedule.

"We could play every home game at night if TV wanted it, but we're not doing that, obviously," Smith said.

The Big Ten has historically avoided night games in November, primarily because of weather concerns. That tradition will go by the wayside with the Buckeyes twice playing in prime time that month.

But the Michigan game will remain a daytime staple.

"We have really been firm on that," Smith said. "I think our (TV) partners understand our position. We haven't gotten any pressure this year at all. As people change, we'll probably end up getting pressure down the road. But we're not changing. We think that game should be played in the daytime, and we're going to keep it that way."

Stadium on schedule

Smith said renovations at Ohio Stadium are on schedule to be completed before the home opener.

A new FieldTurf surface is being installed. The south stands are being expanded by about 2,600 seats. A lighting system is being added above the east and west sides of the stadium, and the 1922-vintage concrete is being waterproofed.

tjones@dispatch.com

@Todd_Jones

2014 Ohio State schedule

Aug. 30: vs. Navy (at Baltimore), noon

Sept. 6: Virginia Tech, 8 p.m.

Sept. 13: Kent State, noon

Sept. 27: Cincinnati, 6 p.m.

Oct. 4: Maryland, TBA

Oct. 18: Rutgers, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 25: at Penn State, 8 p.m.

Nov. 1: Illinois, 8 p.m.

Nov. 8: at Michigan State, 8 p.m.

Nov. 15: at Minnesota, TBA

Nov. 22: Indiana, TBA

Nov. 29: Michigan, TBA

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