It’s officially the off-season for Ohio State and the rest of college football, but we’ll continue to make regular lookaheads for the next season.
OK who are we kidding? We will always look to 2021 as we near spring and then summer conditioning, until the beginning of the next glorious time when we see scarlet and gray on a TV or streaming device near you.
With that in mind, ESPN’s David Hale released a ranking of all college football teams and what tier he holds for next year. Levels range from worst level 10 (for UConn and Kansas) to level 1, which involves five national title contenders.
As always, we’re interested in where the world’s leading sports program provider has the state of Ohio in all of these gadgets, and we’re pretty sure you are, too. As a bonus, we’ll let you know where the other Big Ten teams are too.
Here. We. Walk.
ESPN Tier 10 – UConn and Kansas
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Kansas and UConn
OKAY. Kansas and UConn aren’t in the Big Ten, but we have to mention how awful these two programs are. If it was basketball, we could be into something. It is not and we are not. At the very least, Big Ten schools aren’t bad enough that they have to have their own grade. So yes – there it is.
ESPN Tier 9: “Yikes”
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If Illinois hadn’t actually won a few Big Ten games in recent years, it might have teamed up with Kansas and UConn. Instead, the Illinois are known only as the worst team at the conference. Ouch! Maybe “Bert” Bielema can turn things around, right? It’s almost like it’s time to take the fight to Fightinglassung.
ESPN Tier 8: “They Are Not Going To Make Us Say Bad Things About The Army.”
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Purdue and Rutgers
Things have gotten so bad in West Lafayette that the boilermakers have been thrown together with Rutgers, who had been at the conference without a win for just two years in a row. We don’t know if it’s more about the rise of the Scarlet Knights under Greg Schiano or if Purdue appears to be in free fall. In either case, both will fight hard, but mostly fall short. Will 2021 be the same?
ESPN Tier 7: ‘The CV Builders’
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If your team can beat the Golden Gophers, it’s a pretty good win, but that’s about it. After a year of what looked like PJ Fleck had his boys row these boats towards the open water, the ship ran aground last year. Will the water be choppy again next season?
ESPN Tier 6: “Let’s Go Crazy”
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Maryland, Michigan State and Nebraska
The Terps, Cornhuskers, and Spartans have been doing well at some point over the past five years, but fail to achieve consistent results in the field. All three have the option to add players to the program, but something isn’t clicking yet. Maybe they’ll spin for the best in 2021, or maybe things will stay the same. The jury is not yet occupied.
ESPN Tier 5: ‘High floor, low ceiling
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Indiana and Northwest
These two programs are what they are. There are built-in drawbacks, but both are above average and near winning a massive game. The problem is that they just don’t have the athletes to compete. But watch out for the Hoosiers in 2021 as Tom Allen is moving the program in the right direction.
ESPN Tier 4: “High ceiling, low floor”
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What used to be the bluest blue blood program, the Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh have not yet lived up to expectations. Nonetheless, he’s secured a shiny new contract, so there’s a good chance Michigan will underperform again, despite having more than enough talent to beat anyone who isn’t Ohio State. The program appears to be in a rinse and repeat cycle of doom.
ESPN Tier 3: “Teams, we’ll be spending a lot of time trying to make sure who doesn’t get into the playoffs.”
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Iowa and Wisconsin
These teams were so close together and playing solid enough to be talked about in a few years. Iowa can play with almost anyone, but down to the level of your opponent. Wisconsin just doesn’t have the playmakers across the board to beat the really good teams. That has a good chance of being the case for both of them again next season, but if history is any indication, both of them will stumble somewhere along the way to deflate fans’ illusions.
ESPN Tier 2: “Knock on the door”
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Without the Buckeyes, the Nittany Lions might have enlisted in a college football playoff or two in recent years. Take the final season and toss it out the window in some insane pandemic season. This team still has enough talent to make a bit of noise when they only pass a game or two a year that held them back. And yes, James Franklin has a problem in the state of Ohio, but so does every other team in the Big Ten.
ESPN Tier 1: ‘Championship Favorites’
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Who is this? You know who it is. There isn’t much to say here. The state of Ohio has won four Big Ten championships in a row and will do it again in 2021, despite losing some key pieces. It’s Big Ten again and college football playoffs or bankruptcy for this team, like it has been in Columbus for a while. This could be the year another team sneak up from the conference and get it done, but it’s unlikely.