ESPN took a glimpse into the unknown and released its latest edition of its future power rankings on Tuesday. The list takes a look at the programs best positioned for success over the next three years and four Big Ten made it into the top 25.
A panel of ESPN experts graded schools based on five weighted categories: Coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path and program foundation. Three Big Ten programs ranked inside the top 10 and one team barely made the list.
Ohio State came in at No. 2 after being dethroned by defending national champion, Alabama. The Buckeyes ranked tied for first in the coaching and recruiting categories and were graded in the top five of each category.The panel seemed particularly impressed by coach Urban Meyer’s hiring of defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, in particular. Ohio State’s worst category was its path to a title due to the increasingly competitive Big Ten East, which is one of the best divisions in college football.
Fittingly, Ohio State’s top two division rivals also made the top 10.
Not far behind was arch-rival Michigan, which was ranked No. 5 by ESPN’s panel, a 10-spot jump from last season. The Wolverines scored highly in coaching, recruiting and foundation, but were docked points for their current talent. A major reason for Michigan’s surge up the list was the presence of Jim Harbaugh, who has brought a brand new identity to the program. With high praise comes high expectations and Harbaugh will have to beat rivals Ohio State and Michigan State in his second year.
Speaking of the Spartans, they came in at No. 10. Michigan State ranked third in coaching, a true testament to the job Mark Dantonio has done in East Lansing, Mich. Dantonio ranked only behind championship-winning coaches Nick Saban and Meyer. The Spartans didn’t rank as highly in current talent or recruiting, but that hasn’t stopped them from competing in the past.
Nebraska barely made the list at No. 25 despite going 6-7 a season ago. The Cornhuskers return a ton of talent offensively and the program’s foundation is still one of the best in the country. Coach Mike Riley does have a tough task ahead of him on the recruiting trail, however. Nebraska isn’t exactly a brand name anymore and the region isn’t a pipeline for elite talent. This forces its program to stretch its resources to find talent across the country. Still, making the top 25 is an indication that things are looking up in Lincoln, Neb.