Yes, in the day and age of everything being online, there are still college football preview magazines that hit the newsstands this time of year. OK, so yeah — you can get digital copies of them, but I happened to be picking up some milk and fabric softener the other day and ran across the magazine section. Yes, I stopped.
And yes, I picked up the Athlon Sports 2021 College Football Preview magazine and purchased it to make my ever-escalating grocery bill that much more. But hey, it’s fun to peruse through and there’s something about having the magazine out way-too-long on the coffee table this fall and beyond.
I immediately flipped to the preseason rankings to see where Athlon had this year’s version of the Ohio State football team, and yeah, it was right about where every other publication and media outlet had them, inside the top five.
But what does Athlon say about the Buckeyes in 2021?
NEXT … Athlon’s preseason ranking of Ohio State
No. 4 – Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day fires up his team during warm-ups prior to the Big Ten Championship football game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
What Athlon Says
“Anyone looking for evidence about how close the Buckeyes are to Alabama in college football’s upper echelon might be tempted to look at last year’s national title game, do the math and see that the gap is four touchdowns. That’s how bad things were in the 52-24 championship beatdown. That outcome stung the OSU contingent, but a more appropriate measuring stick will come this year, when head coach Ryan Day heads down his depth chart of five-star recruits and finds replacements for many top-flight players who are gone from Columbus this season. If Day is able to take what will be one of the youngest teams in the nation and turn it into another 12-0 or 11-1 steamroller, then we could be seeing Bama North.”
NEXT … What we say
Athlon’s take on Ohio State
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day talks to his team during a timeout in the NCAA football game at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa. on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.
Ohio State Faces Penn State In Happy Valley. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
What We Say
Everyone is looking at least year’s result in Miami and drawing conclusions on how big the gap is between Alabama and Ohio State. Look, let’s get it out of the way first; Bama was clearly the better team, and deserved to win that game. However, OSU was missing players because of COVID-19 and injury, had an abbreviated preseason and slate of games to improve, and still got as far as it did.
Despite what everyone’s bad-take head coach Dabo Swinney, there was a very big disadvantage to not playing a full schedule, let alone being able to practice because of the Big Ten’s flip-flopping and early pull of the ripcord on last year. With more game time, more practice, and more availability of players, that game is much closer.
That being said, 2021 is a year of transition for Ohio State. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will have a bevy of weapons to utilize, so the offense will be fine. It’s more on the defense to get the right spackling and paste to repair some issues from last season. This team should be a top-five ballclub, but it’ll only be a national title-contending one if the defense comes around.
NEXT … The rest of Athlon’s Top 25
Athlon’s preseason college football top 25
4. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Iowa State
10. North Carolina
12. Notre Dame
15. Arizona State
19. Penn State
24. Coastal Carolina