By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – My first reaction after seeing the Big Ten football standings since 2015 was to marvel at Ohio State’s dominance.
Maybe I should’ve been more appreciative of Iowa having the third best record overall, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off Ohio State’s 68-8 record, and its 89.4 winning percentage.
Wisconsin has the second best record since 2015 at 56-19, followed by Iowa (53-21), Penn State (53-22) and Michigan (49-22).
— TheWolverine.com (@TheWolverineMag) May 10, 2021
That is certainly good company for Iowa to be sharing, but nobody is keeping company with the Buckeyes, who have turned the Big Ten into the big one and the other 13.
TheWolverine.com posted the top five records on Twitter and tracked it back to 2015 because that’s when Jim Harbaugh was hired as the Michigan head coach.
Harbaugh was hired to restore his alma mater to dominance, but it just hasn’t happened as Michigan is 0-6 against Ohio State under Harbaugh.
The Big Ten often gets praised for its parity, and for its depth in football, and while that is true to a point, Ohio State has been distancing itself from the pack for quite a while.
It’s sort of like watching the 1973 Belmont Stakes with Ohio State pulling away as Secreteriat.
Since 2001, Ohio State has won two national titles and at least 12 games in a season 10 times.
Urban Meyer deserves much of the credit for the current surge because he took over in Columbus following a 6-7 season in 2011, and made an immediate impact. Ohio State finished 12-0 in Meyer’s first season, won a national title in his third season and finished 73-8 overall in his six seasons as head coach.
But even without Meyer, Ohio State’s dominance has continued under Ryan Day, whose record is 23-2 as head coach.
Ohio State has to break in a new quarterback, and has to replace a number of star players from last season.
But outside of Alabama and Clemson, no program reloads better than the Buckeyes.
It often comes down to a 4- or 5-star recruit replacing a former 4- or 5-star recruit.
From a competitive standpoint, Big Ten football is now too predictable in that it almost always comes down to who will finish runner-up to Ohio State.
And since the Buckeyes show no signs of slowing down, it’s up to the other Big Ten teams to narrow the gap.
I haven’t spent much time analyzing the Big Ten East Division for next season, but picking Ohio State is always a safe bet.
College football is a wonderful game, but there is a lack of parity at the top with Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson in a group by themselves.
Louisiana State rose to the top in 2019, finishing 15-0 overall, but then slipped to 5-5 in 2020.
Harbaugh was a hot commodity when he returned to his alma mater in 2015, and some thought he would do for Michigan what Meyer did for Ohio State.
But Harbaugh hasn’t come close to matching what Meyer did at Ohio State.
In fact, the gap between Ohio State and Michigan has only widened since Harbaugh took over.
Nov. 4, 2017 is a day that Iowa fans will cherish forever because that was the day Iowa stunned the nation by crushing third-ranked Ohio State 55-24 at Kinnick Stadium. It was surreal watching as a pretty good Iowa team dominated the Buckeyes pretty much from start to finish.
The teams haven’t met since then, and Ohio State fans probably consider the loss to Iowa in 2017 a fluke, or an aberration.
And maybe it was a fluke, considering Ohio State has won 13 of the last 15 games in series.
The Big Ten West Division looks up for grabs this fall with at least four teams worthy of consideration: Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Minnesota.
But it’s hard to envision any of those four teams beating Ohio State with the conference title on the line.
Me personally, I’m bored with Ohio State’s dominance, but also amazed by it, if that makes any sense.