'Just pure talent,' Urban Meyer says Michigan not Ohio State's Big Ten challenger

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Is this the year Jim Harbaugh makes it to Indy?

Urban Meyer isn't counting on it.

The path to the conference championship game in the Big Ten East goes through Columbus. And for the Buckeyes, Meyer says it goes through State College.

He said Penn State -- not Michigan -- is Ohio State's biggest challenger in the Big Ten this season.

"The rivalry’s always going to be there, and you better take that one as if it would be the Wolverines," Meyer said Monday on the Big Ten Network. "Everybody in Columbus, Ohio -- most importantly, everybody in that Woody Hayes facility -- the enemy is very clearly identified. That’s the Wolverines.

"However, with recruiting the last few years, with just the roster, I would have to go with Penn State."

The results the last few years would say the same. Ohio State is 34-3 in the Big Ten since 2016, winning the title each of the last three seasons. Penn State is second over that span, at 28-8. Wisconsin (28-9) is third, and Michigan (26-10) is fourth.

"Just pure talent, I would say the challenger of the East, and the challenger of the Big Ten, is Penn State," Meyer said. "Legitimately challenge to go to Indianapolis, you’ve got the big three. You’ve got the Wolverines, Penn State and Ohio State.

"I just think right now, it’s Penn State and Ohio State. One of those two teams will be in Indianapolis."

Penn State has gained the upper hand on Michigan in recruiting as well. James Franklin has secured four five-stars and 40 four-stars over the last three full recruiting cycles, compared to two five-stars and 35 four-stars for Harbaugh.

The Buckeyes are in a class of their own, with six five-stars and 43 four-stars over that period.

Naturally, the standings have reflected it.