Big Ten rankings: Who is the biggest threat to Ohio State’s conference crown?

Justin Fields of the Ohio State Buckeyes (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Justin Fields of the Ohio State Buckeyes (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Justin Fields, Ohio State Buckeyes
Justin Fields, Ohio State Buckeyes. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Who is the biggest threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten?

The Ohio State Buckeyes have been the most dominant team in the Big Ten for a long time. Since 2010 the Buckeyes have won five conference championships — four outright — and the last three. From a recruiting perspective, there is no comparison.

The Buckeyes 2020 class was top in the conference and ranked fifth in the nation, according to the 247Sports Team Rankings, and it included three five-star recruits. The second-ranked team in the conference — the Michigan Wolverines — was 13th with no five-stars.

Since Urban Meyer took over as head coach, the Buckeyes began to pull away from the rest of the conference, especially in recruiting. Ryan Day has continued this trend since taking over last season as head coach.

Are there any programs that can challenge the mighty Buckeyes? Here are three who might come close to doing just that.

3. Biggest threats to Ohio State in the Big Ten: Michigan

There is nothing right now that says that the Michigan Wolverines could beat Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won eight in a row against their bitter rivals to the north. The Wolverines have won only once this decade.

So how did the Wolverines make this list? First, Michigan is a top-four team in the conference. They’ve won 10 games three of five seasons since Jim Harbaugh has been the head coach. Despite not recruiting at the level Ohio State recruits, Michigan recruits better than anyone else in the conference.

If Michigan wants to contend and knock off Ohio State this season, two things have to happen.  First, the Wolverines need elite offensive line play. That was a staple of both Stanford’s and the 49er’s offense when Harbaugh coached at both places.

The offensive line play has been good at, but not elite. That might be the most significant issue behind Harbaugh’s lack of success against the elite of his conference. Second, Michigan needs quarterback play.

Whether it is Joe Milton or Dylan McCaffrey, the Wolverines need better quarterback play than they got from John O’Corn, Wilton Speight or Shea Patterson. This season marks the return of Chris Evans to the program. That upgrades the running back room.

Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell also return at the receiver. They return a defense that will be good again this season. All of that sounds nice, but to beat Ohio State, Michigan needs transformational quarterback play. Without that, they have no chance to be Ohio State.