BuckeyeGrove - ESPN Football Power Index ranks Ohio State No. 5 for 2021 season
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ESPN Football Power Index ranks Ohio State No. 5 for 2021 season

Just like most of you (and us as well), ESPN is already looking forward to the 2021 college football season before spring training has even ended for many programs around the country.

ESPN's Football Power Index measures a team's "true strength" on a net points scale that weighs its projected point margin against its average opponent on a neutral field. Aside from the FPI rating, ESPN also projects wins and losses for each team in the country, as well as percentages estimating how likely it is for a given team to make the playoff, reach the national championship and win it.

Needless to say, Ohio State ranked quite well in just about every ESPN FPI projection compared with the rest of the field, and we've taken the liberty of breaking down exactly where the Buckeyes are slated in a number of categories.

How far will can the Buckeyes' next starting QB lead them in 2021?
How far will can the Buckeyes' next starting QB lead them in 2021? (USA Today Sports)

FPI score: 20.5 (No. 5)

With an FPI metric of 20.5, Ohio State has the fifth-best score in the country, sitting behind only Alabama (28.0), Oklahoma (26.6), Clemson (23.5) and Iowa State (22.8).

The Buckeyes finished the 2020 season ranked No. 2 in the final AP Top 25 Poll, which is also where they were slated in the preseason AP Poll prior to the brief cancellation of the Big Ten football season.

ESPN FPI top 10
Rank Team FPI Final AP Poll rank (last season)

No. 1



No. 1

No. 2



No. 6

No. 3



No. 3

No. 4

Iowa State


No. 9

No. 5

Ohio State


No. 2

No. 6

Texas A&M


No. 4

No. 7



No. 7

No. 8

Miss State



No. 9

Okla State


No. 20

No. 10

Penn State



Projected wins/losses: 10.8-1.9

ESPN's simulations predict that Ohio State will win 10.8 games and lose 1.9 in the coming season. The sum does not equal a whole number because of the differing number of games in different simulations, according to the ESPN website.

Ohio State went 7-1 a year ago after the Big Ten season was shortened to eight-plus-one schedule, although the Buckeyes had three conference games canceled before their three-game postseason run.

Outside of this past year, Ohio State has not won less than 11 games in a season since 2011, when the Buckeyes went 6-7 with Luke Fickell at the helm as interim head coach.

Win out: 11.0%

In only 11 percent of ESPN's simulations did Ohio State win its entire conference slate in the 2021 season, including a conference championship game.

Ohio State has won out against Big Ten competition in each of the past two seasons for a combined record of 20-0 against conference foes. The Buckeyes have won 25 straight games against Big Ten opponents dating back to the 2018 season.

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Six wins: 100.0%

There was not a single simulation in which the Buckeyes did not win six games in the 2021 according to ESPN, and in fact, the program has not won fewer than six games since John Cooper's first Ohio State team went 4-6-1 in 1988.

The last time Ohio State won exactly six games in a football season was the aforementioned 2011 season, which featured the most Buckeye losses (seven) in Ohio State single-season history.

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Win division: 71.3%

Ohio State was projected to win the Big Ten East Division in 71.3 percent of ESPN's simulations. Since the conference added a 12th team in 2011, allowing two divisions to be created a conference championship game to be played, the Buckeyes have won their division six out of 10 times, including the past four years in a row.

Win conference: 53.7%

Ohio State has won the conference the past four years running.
Ohio State has won the conference the past four years running. (USA Today Sports)

ESPN gives Ohio State a better chance than not to win the Big Ten conference as a whole, which it has done in each of the past four seasons straight.

Ohio State has won the conference championship game five times since 2011, having only lost in the game in 2013, and not reaching the game at all in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Chance to make playoff: 45.0%

It's nearly a coin flip whether or not Ohio State reaches the CFP in 2021 according to ESPN, which gives just three teams a better chance than the Buckeyes (Alabama, Oklahoma and Clemson).

Ohio State has reached the playoff in each of the past two seasons, and four times in the seven seasons in which the CFP has been in existence.

The Buckeyes are 3-3 in CFP competition, with two national championship game appearances and one title.

Make national championship: 18.3%

ESPN gives Ohio State the fifth-best odds to make the national championship game in 2021, after losing in the final game of the 2020 college football season to Alabama 52-24 in January.

The Buckeyes have been to two national title games in the CFP era, and five since the dawn of the BCS back in 1998.

Win national championship: 7.9%

The Buckeyes, who are 2-3 in national championship games combining both the BCS and CFP eras, were given a 7.9 percent chance of winning it all by ESPN's FPI simulations.

Ohio State last won the national championship in 2014, defeating Oregon, and also won the BCS title against Miami (FL) in the 2002 season.