The 2019 Ohio State football team is going to look a lot different from the one that just wrapped up its 2018 season.
Ryan Day is the new head coach, as you may have heard.
Dwayne Haskins is gone, replaced by Justin Fields. Four starting offensive linemen are gone, as is running back Mike Weber. Three of the top wide receivers will be new as well.
And that’s just on one side of the ball.
But Ohio State football is still Ohio State football, and that means they’re going to get the benefit of the doubt at this time of year.
A number of national outlets have released “way too early” or “a little less early, but still pretty darn early” preseason rankings. The Buckeyes rarely dipped too far outside of the top-5 in Urban Meyer’s seven seasons, and they’re back in that same general area again in Day’s first year.
CBSSports.com just released a “post-spring” rankings list. The Bucks are No. 6, behind only Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and LSU. Other Big Ten teams in the top-25 include No. 8 Michigan, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 20 Penn State, No. 23 Minnesota, and No. 24 Northwestern.
The Sporting News put out a list on Monday. OSU checks in at No. 5. The only teams ahead of them are Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Michigan is 9th, Penn State is 12th, Wisconsin is 21st, Northwestern is 24th, and Nebraska is 25th.
Wayne Staats from the NCAA put out his own rankings this week. The Buckeyes rank No. 3 on his list, behind only Clemson and Alabama. Michigan is No. 7, Penn State is No. 13, Wisconsin is No. 14, Iowa is No. 22, Northwestern is No. 24, and Nebraska is No. 25.
ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early Rankings” came out before spring football, but are along the same lines. Ohio State is ranked fifth, behind Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The Big Ten showed its potential depth in this poll as well, with No. 9 Michigan, No. 16 Penn State, No. 19 Northwestern, No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 22 Iowa, and No. 24 Nebraska all in the rankings.
The “Football Power Index” rankings that ESPN puts out were a lot less bullish on the Buckeyes. FPI is a computer metric that weighs past performance and recruiting rankings. But it also dings a team that lost its head coach or is replacing a quarterback and other offensive players.
OSU is No. 13 in FPI. Clemson is at the top of the list, followed by Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Florida, Auburn, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Penn State. That would put the Buckeyes in third place in the Big Ten East. It would also make them the seventh-best team in the SEC. Besides the No. 5 Wolverines and No. 12 Nittany Lions, Michigan State appears at No. 14, Wisconsin ranks No. 23, and Iowa is 25th.
Another computer-based system is much more optimistic on OSU’s chances. S&P+ uses recent history, returning production, and recruiting to rate teams. It has the Buckeyes No. 7 behind Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida. Michigan is 9th, Wisconsin is 11th, Penn State is 14th, Michigan State is 23rd, and Iowa is 25th.