When Ohio State travels to Indiana Thursday night, it will mark the first season-opening game against a conference opponent since 1976, when the Buckeyes beat Michigan State.

Jack Park, a leading Ohio State football historian, checks in each week during the college football season with a retrospective about the Buckeyes.

Ohio State will open its 2017 football season Thursday evening at Indiana, the Buckeyes’ third season-opener away from home in the last four seasons. OSU outscored Bowling Green 77-10 at Ohio Stadium last year, won 42-24 over Virginia Tech at Blacksburg in 2015, and defeated Navy 34-17 at Baltimore in the 2014 season-opener.

This year will mark the first time Ohio State has opened against a Big Ten Conference opponent since defeating Michigan State 49-21 at home in 1976. OSU’s last away opener within the league was an impressive 21-0 victory at Michigan State in 1975.

Ohio State owns a very successful record of 111-12-4 over its first 127 season-openers. This week’s game will be just the 15th opener on the road.

A 42-0 home win over Akron in 2011 has been the Buckeyes’ last shutout in an opening game, while Penn State’s 19-0 triumph at Ohio Stadium in 1978 was the last time the Buckeyes have been blanked in their first game of the season. The 1978 game was 15 years before the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993. It also was Woody Hayes’ last of 28 seasons at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ last season-opening setback was a 23-12 loss to Miami in the 1999 Kickoff Classic at the New Jersey Meadowlands.

During Ohio State’s 1,273 games over its first 127 seasons from 1890 through 2016, the school has won three times while giving up more than 40 points. The most points by an opponent in a losing effort is Ohio State’s 52-49 victory at Indiana on October 14, 2012. This was Coach Urban Meyer’s first year at Ohio State and the Hoosiers were coached by Kevin Wilson. Ironically, Thursday night’s clash at Indiana will be Wilson’s first game as Ohio State’s new offensive coordinator.

The two other victories with the opposition scoring above 40 points were a 49-42 home triumph over Illinois on November 8, 1980, and a 42-41 victory at Michigan on November 30, 2013.

Ohio State opened its 1996 season on September 7 with a dominating 70-7 victory over Rice, before a sun-baked Ohio Stadium crowd of 93,479. Freshman wide receiver Michael Wiley, playing in his first collegiate game, scored three touchdowns the only three times he touched the football.

Wiley’s first score came on an impressive 49-yard reverse late in the second quarter, boosting OSU’s lead to 42-7 at halftime. His other two touchdowns were third-quarter post pattern receptions of 51 and 60 yards from quarterback Joe Germaine. Seven different players scored at least once, as the Buckeyes tallied on 10 of their first 11 possessions and rolled-up 632 yards of total offense.

Wiley’s unveiling brought back fond memories of Howard “Hopalong” Cassady’s freshman debut 44 years earlier. The 18-year-old redhead from Columbus Central High School scored three touchdowns in his first college game, leading Ohio State to a 33-13 season-opening home victory over Indiana on September 27, 1952.

Coach Urban Meyer enters 2017 with a very impressive five year record at Ohio State of 61-6 (91.0%). His 15-year career coaching record is 165-29 for a winning rate of 85.1% -- highest among all active major college coaches with 10 of more years at four-year schools.

Meyer currently is third all-time among major college coaches with 10 or more years. Knute Rockne of Notre Dame has the highest mark at 88.1% (105-12-5, 13 years), followed by Frank Leahy of Notre Dame and Boston College with 86.4% (107-13-9, 13 years).

Enjoy the 2017 season!