We won’t know who will be playing in next year’s College Football Playoff for quite some time, but it’s never too early to speculate on potential candidates. According to ESPN, there are 10 teams labeled as “top contenders” for next year’s field.

Two of those teams come from the B1G, per ESPN’s Heather Dinich. One of those is Ohio State — which you probably easily guessed after back-to-back appearances. The other team? You might need a couple guesses to get it right.


Following the Hoosiers’ 6-2 season in 2020, ESPN is tabbing Tom Allen’s team as an outside threat to earn one of the four bids next season. Indiana’s only regular season loss in 2020 was to Ohio State.

In Dinich’s ranking, she has Ohio State listed as the No. 5 team to reach the College Football Playoff next season. Here’s her “reason for optimism for the Buckeyes in 2021:

Ryan Day’s recruiting. Over the past five recruiting cycles, Ohio State has lured in the No. 2-ranked class three times and the No. 5 class once. The staff has loaded up on offensive linemen and receivers, and there is plenty of young talent at quarterback. They’ll need it, as Justin Fields and Trey Sermon have announced they are entering the NFL draft, and more could follow. The Buckeyes got a boost with the announcement earlier this week that Chris Olave will return.

The Hoosiers are further down on the list, coming in at No. 10. Here was Dinich’s “reason for optimism” for the Hoosiers:

Potentially 19 starters return on offense and defense, including Big Ten receiver of the year Ty Fryfogle and receiver Whop Philyor, who led IU in total receptions with 54. Indiana’s defense held Big Ten opponents to 20.3 points per game last year, but will have a new coordinator in Charlton Warren, who was previously the defensive backs coach at Georgia. He’ll inherit a talented secondary.

Ohio State defeated Indiana 42-35 in the 2020 regular season. The Buckeyes went on to finish 7-1 with a trip to the national title game. The Hoosiers were 6-2 with a loss to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl to end the year.

You can view the complete Top 10 on ESPN.com (subscription required).