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Indiana No. 10 in ESPN way-too-early 2021 season rankings

The 2020 college football season has been over for less than 24 hours, but it already appears likely that Indiana will carry some hype into 2021.

ESPN released its way-too-early Top 25 for 2021 on its Twitter account Monday and slotted the Hoosiers at No. 10. That put them second among Big Ten teams behind Ohio State at No. 5 after the Buckeyes’ loss to Alabama in the national championship game.

The first official polls won’t come out until August, but even online rankings that come out in January give a decent sense of how programs are viewed heading into the offseason. If the Hoosiers are ranked that high in official preseason polls, it would be a landmark moment for Indiana, which hasn’t been ranked in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 since it began the 1968 season ranked No. 13 following its undefeated regular season and Rose Bowl loss in 1967.

The Hoosiers expect to return most of the roster that went 6-2 this season with wins over Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin but lost to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl. They finished No. 12 in the final Associated Press poll. Among the players who are certain to return are All-Big Ten quarterback Michael Penix, All-Big Ten wide receiver Ty Fryfogle and All-American cornerback Tiawan Mullen.

ESPN ranks Clemson as its preseason No. 1 team followed by national champion Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State. Other Big Ten teams in the Top 25 include No. 12 Iowa, No. 17 Wisconsin and No. 22 Penn State.

Indiana is scheduled to open the 2021 season on Sept. 4 at Iowa.

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