The Cleveland Browns have been a pitiful excuse for a professional football team for the past two decades. Ohio State is a traditional college football powerhouse that routinely contends for national championships.
Since 1999, the Browns have had only one season in which they won 10 or more games. Ohio State has done it a dozen times, despite playing a shorter schedule. It’s fun to joke about the stark differences between these two Ohio teams, but the Buckeyes could never actually beat the Browns, right?
In reality, no. However, Public Policy Polling recently surveyed 1,248 Ohio voters and found that 57 percent believe the Buckeyes would best the Browns in a one-on-one matchup. From the press release:
This may be the greatest measure of what tough times these are for the Cleveland Browns: voters in the state think that in a head-to-head matchup, Ohio State would beat the Browns on the gridiron 57/23. It’s patently ridiculous to think a college team could beat even so hapless an NFL team as the Browns, but that’s where we are.
I can’t blame people for having no faith in the Browns, but the difference in competition between the NFL and NCAA is so significant that Cleveland would likely crush the boys from Columbus. Here’s why:
Those numbers, from a 2013 NCAA study entitled “Estimated Probability of Competing in Athletics Beyond the High School Interscholastic Level,” illustrate how truly difficult it is to get to the NFL. Every NFL team—even bad ones like Cleveland—are essentially All-Star teams made up of the best football players on the planet.
The Browns’ front seven was much-maligned last season, as the team ranked at the bottom of the league in every big defensive category. The Browns’ depth chart shows their starting front seven consisted of Randy Starks, Danny Shelton, Desmond Bryant, Paul Kruger, Karlos Dansby, Craig Roberston and Nate Orchard.
Starks was a first-team All-ACC selection at Maryland. Shelton was a first-team All-American at Washington. Kruger was an honorable mention All-American at BYU. Dansby was a first-team All-American at Auburn. Robertson was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection at North Texas. Orchard was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection at Utah. The only player who didn’t absolutely dominate at the college level is Bryant, but even he was a a second-team All-Ivy League selection.
When you think about the fact that pro football players are all bigger, stronger, faster and smarter then they were in college, you realize that even the worst NFL team would probably crush the best NCAA team. But, although logic clearly favors the Browns over the Buckeyes, we can’t blame Ohio fans for believing otherwise.
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