Way-Too-Early Rankings Roundup: Ohio State Receives Mixed Predictions From Experts, Ranking Between Second and Sixth in Top 25 Polls for 2023

With the 2022 college football season officially over, it’s time to direct attention to the 2023 season.

There’s no better way to do that than to talk about “way-too-early” top 25 rankings and look at Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff championship odds, so we decided to do just that.

We took a look at where Ohio State falls in the top 25 rankings from several college football news websites and how the Buckeyes compare to others across the country heading into 2023. We also look at what the sharps think of the Buckeyes and their chances to dethrone rival Michigan as winners of the Big Ten and Georgia as two-time defending national champions.

Let’s dive in.

Top 25 Rankings

Below are the top 25 rankings from six national college football news outlets: ESPN, The Athletic, Pro Football Focus, Sporting News, USA TODAY and Sports Illustrated.

With the 2023 season set to start in August – over seven months from Tuesday – outlets are split on where to put Ohio State in their rankings. The Buckeyes are placed anywhere from second to sixth, depending on the poll.

The most significant factors leading to Ohio State’s disparity in the rankings are the team’s question marks at quarterback and whether or not the Buckeyes will improve on defense in 2023. Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are expected to have a competition that will likely last into fall camp , while Jim Knowles’ unit looked much-improved for most of 2022 but crumbled against Michigan and Georgia.

Here is where each outlet ranked Ohio State and what the respective writers had to say about the Buckeyes heading into the new season:

ESPN: #2

The worldwide leader in sports ranked Ohio State the highest of any outlet we will feature in the article, placing the Buckeyes as the No. 2 teams in its rankings behind Georgia and in front of Michigan, Florida State and Alabama.

Mark Schlabach writes:

“It might have been a deflating end to the 2022 season, after the Buckeyes lost to rival Michigan for the second straight season and then fell to Georgia in a CFP semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But to suggest that Ohio State isn’t ‘t trending in the right direction under coach Ryan Day is laughable. The Buckeyes won 11 games this past season, despite playing without star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and tailback TreVeyon Henderson for much of the campaign. Henderson is expected back in 2023; Smith -Njigba has already declared for the NFL draft. Kyle McCord, who started against Akron in 2021, will battle Devin Brown for the starting quarterback job in the spring. Whoever wins the job will be surrounded by plenty of playmakers, including receivers Marvin Harrison Jr. . and Emeka Egbuka. Replacing Johnson and Jones on the offensive line will be a priority in the spring. The Buckeyes play road games at Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan in 2023.”

Rounding out the top 10: Penn State, USC, LSU, Oregon and Tennessee

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 14), Penn State (No. 6), at Michigan (No. 3)

The Athletic: #3

The Athletic (and later Pro Football Focus) gives the Buckeyes their next-highest ranking, placing Ohio State at No. 3 behind Georgia and Michigan and in front of LSU and Alabama.

Stewart Mandel writes:

“The quarterback job is up for grabs post-CJ Stroud, but the Buckeyes bring back WRs Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, and RBs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. Ohio State must replace its starting tackles. The defensive line should be strong with DEs Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau and DT Mike Hall Jr. returning, but the secondary must improve. Transfer S Ja’Had Carter, a three-year starter at Syracuse, should help.”

Rounding out the top 10: Penn State, USC, Florida State, Washington and TCU

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 11), Penn State (No. 6), at Wisconsin (No. 19), at Michigan (No. 2)

Pro Football Focus: #3

As mentioned above, Pro Football Focus also thinks Ohio State is the third-best team heading into 2023, placing the Buckeyes behind Georgia and Michigan. PFF has Florida State and USC as the two teams behind Ohio State that complete the top five spots.

Max Chadwick writes:

“Ohio State is likely losing quarterback CJ Stroud, who’s a projected top-five pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. His replacement will have the pleasure of throwing to Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, the two most valuable Power Five receivers this season according to to PFF’s wins above average metric. Harrison’s quarterback in high school, Kyle McCord, is the favorite to take over as the Buckeyes’ starter next season.” –

Rounding out the top 10: Alabama, Penn State, LSU, Tennessee and Washington

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 14), Penn State (No. 7), at Wisconsin (No. 24), at Michigan (No. 2)

Sporting News: #4

Sporting News sees three teams better than Ohio State heading into 2023. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 4 behind Georgia, Alabama and Michigan in the outlet’s top 25 rankings with Tennessee rounding out the top five.

Bill Bender writes:

There is a touch more pressure on Ryan Day this season, but the Buckeyes showed against Georgia that their heavyweight credentials are not expired by any means. Kyle McCord will have the first crack at the starting quarterback job if CJ Stroud turns pro, and the skill-position talent still features Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and TreVeyon Henderson. Edge rusher JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer lead the defense. Ohio State runs back the home-and-home with Notre Dame and Penn State comes to Ohio Stadium, but the circle-it-date remains the same. The Buckeyes haven’t lost three straight times to Michigan since 1995-97.

Rounding out the top 10: LSU, USC, TCU, Penn State and Washington

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 13), at Penn State (No. 9), at Wisconsin (No. 19), at Michigan (No. 3)

USA TODAY: #6

While ESPN, The Athletic, PFF and Sporting News see Ohio State as one of the best teams in college football heading into 2023, USA TODAY is not entirely sold on the Buckeyes just yet, ranking them No. 6 behind Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, Florida State and Penn State in its first preseason poll.

Paul Myerberg writes:

Picking the Buckeyes No. 6 and third in the Big Ten goes against recent history. They haven’t lost more than two games in a season since 2011 and are a combined 42-6 with Ryan Day as the full-time coach. But CJ Stroud is going to be very difficult to replace and there are still some outstanding issues with a defense that took a step forward in 2022 but cratered against Michigan and Georgia. The new quarterback will have three games to get settled before that huge matchup at Notre Dame on Sept. 23.

Rounding out the top 10: Notre Dame, Clemson, USC and Washington

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 7), Penn State (No. 5), at Wisconsin (No. 25), at Michigan (No. 2)

Sports Illustrated: #6

Like USA TODAY, Sports Illustrated also ranked Ohio State at No. 6 in its top 25 rankings. The latter has the Buckeyes behind Georgia, Michigan, LSU, Penn State and Washington.

Pat Forde writes:

The Buckeyes will be replacing two-time Heisman Trophy finalist CJ Stroud at quarterback. Even with capable candidates for the position, that’s a significant loss. But the best wide receiver in college football, Marvin Harrison Jr., will make that job easier—and he will have a lot of company at Wideout U, as usual. The defensive issues Jim Knowles brought last year to fix remain unfixed, after the Buckeyes gave up more than 40 points in each of their last two games and were outscored by a combined 39-6 in those fourth quarters. Ohio State has a pair of hugely talented defensive ends in JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer who need to become more consistent producers. A Sept. 23 trips to Notre Dame will be significant for both teams.

Rounding out the top 10: Alabama, USC, TCU and Florida State

Ranked opponents on Ohio State’s 2023 schedule: at Notre Dame (No. 11), Penn State (No. 4), at Wisconsin (No. 23), at Michigan (No. 2)

Big Ten Championship Odds

From 2017-20, Ohio State dominated its conference and won the Big Ten championship in four consecutive seasons. However, after losses to Michigan in the past two seasons, the Wolverines have started a run of their own, winning back-to-back conference championships in 2021 and 2022.

With Michigan returning JJ McCarthy, Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards and a slew of defensive talent next fall, the Wolverines would be the favorite to play for and win the Big Ten championship ahead of Ohio State for a third straight time in 2023. That’s what the top 25 polls featured in the article would indicate, at least.

In some cases – as in the USA TODAY and Sports Illustrated rankings – the Buckeyes are projected to finish behind Penn State in the Big Ten East division. In that instance, those outlets presumably expect the Buckeyes to fall to the Nittany Lions in Columbus on Oct. 21.

Should Ohio State defeat Penn State at the Shoe, it would still need to beat Michigan in the Big House on Nov. 25, something the Buckeyes haven’t done since the 2019 season in Ryan Day’s first year as head coach.

National Championship Odds

As a consensus top-six team in the early top-25 polls for 2023, the Buckeyes have as good a chance as anyone to win a national championship next season.

Ohio State has the third-best odds to win the College Football Playoff next January, according to betJACK, ranking behind only Georgia and Alabama and in front of USC, Clemson and Michigan.

betJACK NATIONAL TITLE ODDS

TEAM

ODDS

GEORGIA

+300

ALABAMA

+400

OHIO STATE

+500

USC

+800

CLEMSON

+1000

MICHIGAN

+1200

FLORIDA STATE

+2000

LSU

+2000

PENN STATE

+2000

NOTRE DAME

+2500

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