Where does Athlon Sports have Ohio State ranked in its college football preview?

·4 min read

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

Two Ohio State football players named to ESPN's All-America Team
Two Ohio State football players named to ESPN's All-America Team

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

Big Ten football 2020 power rankings after week two - Buckeyes Wire
Big Ten football 2020 power rankings after week two - Buckeyes Wire

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

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Oklahoma

4. Ohio State

5. Georgia

6. Texas A&M

7. Iowa State

8. Cincinnati

9. Oregon

10. North Carolina

11. Florida

12. Notre Dame

13. Wisconsin

14. Miami

15. Arizona State

16. Iowa

17. LSU

18. USC

19. Penn State

20. Texas

21. Indiana

22. Washington

23. Louisiana

24. Coastal Carolina

25. TCU


ESPN predictive FPI for every team on Ohio State football's schedule in 2021

Ohio State football 2021 opponents ranked by ESPN Football Power Index
Ohio State football 2021 opponents ranked by ESPN Football Power Index

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