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Multiple Big Ten Teams Featured in ESPN Post-Spring Rankings

The ESPN post-Spring rankings have been released. In what assumes to be a big year for the Big Ten, six programs land in the top 25.
ESPN Post-Spring Rankings

The Worldwide Leader in Sports just released its way-too-early post-Spring top 25 rankings. As expected, it’s littered with the top Big Ten programs of 2024. In typical pre-season fashion, eight SEC teams were ranked, followed by the Big Ten’s six. Five ACC programs, five Big 12 programs, and Notre Dame round out the poll.

Six Big Ten Teams Land on the ESPN Post-Spring Rankings

2. Ohio State

Trailing only Georgia, Ohio State lands at the top of the list. For the third year in a row, the Buckeyes finished 2023 11-2. Most notably they have now dropped back-to-back-to-back games to Michigan. Over the last two years, the Buckeyes have followed up their loss to their rival with a loss to an SEC foe in a bowl. Despite that negative momentum, expectations are still sky-high. In each year of Ryan Day‘s tenure, Ohio State has been in the conversation. With an expanded College Football Playoff, it’s almost a sure thing that the Buckeyes play some extra games.

Ohio State is set to have a top-five defense yet again in 2024. If the offense led by transfers Will Howard and Quinshon Judkins can improve upon last year’s performance, the ceiling is high.

4. Oregon

A newcomer to the Big Ten will have something to say about the future of the conference. Oregon was one of the top programs in the nation last year, winning 12 games and only losing to CFP National Runners Up, Washington. Dan Lanning has the program humming and is set to make the expanded CFP behind Dillon Gabriel.

Gabriel’s receiver unit is considered the second-best in the nation despite having to replace Troy Franklin. The Ducks have recruited at a high level under Lanning and did a great job in the portal this offseason. The Ducks face off against just two teams on the ESPN post-Spring rankings and they get Ohio State at home.

10. Michigan

The Wolverines round out the top 10 after taking the program’s first National Championship since 1997. If there is a Big Ten team that has to replace an exorbitant amount of production, it’s Michigan.

The program lost head coach Jim Harbaugh to the NFL as well as a slew of seniors and early entrants to the NFL Draft. Despite this, new head coach Sherrone Moore has his team in the thick of things. The schedule makers were not kind to the Wolverines as they drew Texas, Oregon, USC, Washington, and Ohio State all in one season. The reprieve is that three of the five are at home.

12. Penn State

James Franklin‘s tenure at Penn State has been marred by being right there but never took hold. Since the program won the Big Ten in 2016, Penn State is 3-11 against Ohio State and Michigan. All three wins were over Michigan and none have been since 2020.

Even then, the Nittany Lions are expected to compete yet again. Drew Allar is developing slowly and will need to take a jump in 2024 to truly lead this program to the promised land. Defensively, Penn State should remain among the elites despite losing talents like Adisa Isaac and Chop Robinson.

Oddly enough, if the Nittany Lions end up 12th, they’ll miss out on the expanded CFP assuming the Group of 5 representative is ranked lower.

23. Iowa

Once again, the Iowa Hawkeyes are among the top ESPN post-Spring rankings. The questions from the last few seasons will remain for 2024. How far can the Hawkeyes’ defense carry the team? The Iowa defense has been among the best in the nation but the offense has quite literally been the worst.

Iowa added a quarterback transfer from Northwestern to compete with Cade McNamara. The Hawkeyes will have to travel to Ohio State. However, their tougher games against Iowa State (rivalry), Troy (the best Sun Belt team over the last two years), Washington, Wisconsin, and Nebraska are all at home.

25. USC

USC is going to be an interesting case to watch. For the first time in a while, Lincoln Riley is heading into a season without a quarterback projected to win the Heisman. They’ll have to replace Caleb Williams and MarShawn Lloyd on offense but Miller Moss gave the Trojans a taste of what’s to come with a big Holliday Bowl win over Louisville.

The question with USC is going to be the defense and it has improved enough. Despite having Williams at quarterback, the USC defense was helpless in 2023 and lost far too many games.

In addition to these six teams, Wisconsin and Washington received votes and just missed out.


ESPN Post-Spring Rankings
Photo courtesy: Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA TODAY NETWORK


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