The Crimson Tide will play in Columbus in 2027 and the Buckeyes will go to Tuscaloosa in 2028.
Nonconference football games don’t get bigger than this.
Ohio State will play Alabama in a home-and-home series in 2027 and 2028.
The Crimson Tide will come to Ohio Stadium on Sept. 18, 2027. Ohio State will go to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to play Sept. 9, 2028, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The visiting team will receive a $1 million payment for both games.
"Usually, there’s no financial compensation with a home-and-home, or historically with Ohio State there has not been that element except when it’s a neutral site or maybe a sponsor-contracted event," Ohio State deputy athletic director Diana Sabau told The Dispatch.
If a team backs out of the games, the fee will be $3 million to the other school. Sabau, who oversees the football program at OSU, said that steep amount serves as a testament to the desire to follow through with the series.
"Absolutely, 100 percent, both teams want to make this happen," she said.
Sabau said she has been working since last summer on the series with her Alabama counterpart, senior deputy athletic director Finus Gaston. They have served together on the College Football Playoff advisory board.
"We’ve just had these conversations and we got to a point where we got serious with it," Sabau said.
The series will be the first regular-season games between the schools since they met in the Kickoff Classic on Aug. 27, 1986, at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The teams have never played on each other’s campus.
Ohio State and Alabama have played four times, all at neutral sites. Alabama won the Kickoff Classic as well as the 1978 Sugar Bowl and 1995 Florida Citrus Bowl.
But the Buckeyes won the most important of their games, a semifinal of the inaugural College Football Playoff. Underdog Ohio State overcame a 21-6 deficit to defeat the top-ranked Crimson Tide 42-35 at the New Orleans Superdome. Ohio State then routed Oregon for the 2014 national title.
Along with Clemson, the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide have been the top teams in the CFP era. Under coach Nick Saban, a former OSU assistant, Alabama is 157-23 in 13 seasons. He has won five national titles for the Crimson Tide, the last in 2017. Saban will be 75 years old when Ohio State plays Alabama in 2027.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day will be 48. Sabau said Day was happy with the series.
"Our student-athletes want to play the best competition, and play that elite level early helps you get ready (for the rest of the season)," Sabau said.
Ohio State has not played a Southeastern Conference opponent in the regular season since playing LSU in a home-and-home series in 1987 and ’88. Ohio State will play at Georgia in 2030 and host the Bulldogs in 2031.
Alabama last played a road game against a northern school in 2011 at Penn State.
The Buckeyes’ other upcoming marquee nonconference opponents include Oregon (away in 2020 and home in 2021), Notre Dame (home in 2022 and away in 2023), Washington (away in 2024 and home in 2025), and Texas (home in 2025 and away in 2026).