Ohio State Set to Face 18 of the Nation’s Top 100 Players Based on Ratings from EA Sports College Football 25

By Garrick Hodge on July 11, 2024 at 8:35 am
Will Johnson
Junfu Han/USA TODAY Network

Ohio State will be tasked with competing against nearly a fifth of the nation's top 100 players during the 2024 regular season.

Five of Ohio State's 12 opponents for the upcoming year had at least one player featured in EA Sports College Football 25's top 100 individual player rankings released on Wednesday. All of them are among the 31 players from the Big Ten who made the top 100, the most of any conference, followed by the SEC with 29 while the ACC and Big 12 each had 15.

Eight players from Ohio State cracked the list, the most of any school nationwide. In this article, however, we'll take a look at the top-100 players OSU will go up against during the regular season, sorted by their schools in order of when the Buckeyes will play them. Each player is listed with their position (as listed in EA Sports College Football 25), class, overall rating in the game and overall ranking among the top 100 players. 

Iowa (4)

  • Jay Higgins, middle linebacker, senior, 94 OVR (No. 16)
  • Sebastian Castro, free safety, graduate student, 92 OVR (No. 38)
  • Nick Jackson, right outside linebacker, graduate student, 90 OVR (No. 86)
  • Xavier Nwankpa, strong safety, junior, 90 OVR (No. 97)

OSU doesn't face a top-100 player until its fifth game of the season, but Iowa will head to Columbus with four players with a 90 overall grade or higher. As you'd expect from the Hawkeyes' reputation, all four of those players are on defense, as Iowa should have one of the nation's top defensive units again in 2024.

The top-rated player for Iowa, Higgins was a first-team All-American last year after recording 171 total tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, five pass deflections and an interception. He was named the Preseason Defensive Player of The Year ahead of the 2024 season by Phil Steele.

Oregon (5)

  • Dillon Gabriel, quarterback, senior, 92 OVR (No. 30)
  • Tez Johnson, wide receiver, senior, 91 OVR (No. 59)
  • Jabbar Muhammad, cornerback, senior, 91 OVR (No. 65)
  • Evan Stewart, wide receiver, junior, 90 OVR (No. 85)
  • Josh Conerly Jr., left tackle, junior, 90 OVR (No. 95)

While Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten this season, there's no shortage of expectations for Oregon either. The Ducks could be ranked as high as No. 3 in the preseason polls and are one of the few rosters in the country that can successfully attempt to compare themselves to the Buckeyes. Oregon also gets OSU at home this season in a pivotal showdown on Oct. 12 at Autzen Stadium.

Three of the Ducks' five top-100 players transferred to Oregon this offseason: Evan Stewart from Texas A&M, Jabbar Muhammad from Washington and Dillon Gabriel from Oklahoma. 

Tez Johnson set an Oregon single-season school record with 86 receptions in 2023 as he racked up 1,182 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns. Gabriel will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders as the Ducks try to contend for their first national title in program history. With the Sooners last year, Gabriel passed for 3,660 yards, 30 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Penn State (3)

  • Abdul Carter, defensive end, junior, 91 OVR, (No. 47)
  • Kevin Winston Jr., strong safety, junior, 91 OVR (No. 57)
  • Nicholas Singleton, running back, junior, 91 OVR (No. 64)

Perhaps no team is more thankful for a 12-team playoff than Penn State. The Nittany Lions have consistently fielded a strong program, but haven’t been able to get over the Ohio State or Michigan hurdle. The Nittany Lions only draw the Buckeyes of those two this season in a Nov. 2 clash in Beaver Stadium.

Penn State has a formidable one-two rushing attack with Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen, but only Singleton cracked EA Sports’ top-100 list. Singleton ran for 752 yards on 171 carries with eight touchdowns a season ago. 

The Nittany Lions finished as the No. 3 scoring defense in the country in 2023 and should be strong defensively again in 2024. Abdul Carter (49 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six pass deflections, an interception last year) and Kevin Winston Jr. (60 tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception, five pass breakups in 2023) are the Nittany Lions’ top two defensive stars.

Purdue (1)

  • Dillon Thieneman, free safety, sophomore, 90 OVR (No. 83)

Raise your hand if you thought Purdue would have a player crack the nation's top 100 players. Ok, some of you are probably lying. 

Nonetheless, there’s good reason to be familiar with standout safety Dillon Thieneman, who was the FWAA Defensive Freshman of The Year in 2023. Thieneman recorded a whopping 106 total tackles, two forced fumbles and six interceptions as a true freshman for the Boilermakers last season. OSU hosts Purdue on Nov. 9.

Michigan (5)

  • Will Johnson, cornerback, junior, 96 OVR (No. 1)
  • Mason Graham, defensive tackle, junior, 95 OVR (No. 8)
  • Colston Loveland, tight end, junior, 92 OVR (No. 33)
  • Donovan Edwards, running back, senior, 91 OVR (No. 49)
  • Kenneth Grant, defensive tackle, junior, 91 OVR (No. 55)

Ohio State's most important game of the year will feature the top-rated player in the country per EA Sports' rankings in cornerback Will Johnson. Johnson had 27 tackles, four pass deflections and four interceptions en route to helping the Wolverines win a national title. 

Mason Graham joins Johnson in the top 10, slotting in at the No. 8 spot after he recorded 35 tackles, three sacks, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a pass deflection in 2023.

Donovan Edwards is one of three players on the game's cover but is the 49th-ranked player overall with a 91 rating. Tight end Colston Loveland is the Wolverines' top-rated offensive player in the game with a 92.

EA Sports College Football 25 releases on July 19 on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. The game will be playable on July 15 at 4 p.m. for those who preorder a deluxe edition of the game.

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