10 Best Football Colleges in Ohio in 2023

Football colleges in Ohio combine academics and sporting activities, creating a fine balance between sporting and intellectual learning.

Football is more than just a sport where you run around the field, score a goal, or win a match.

For student-athletes, it’s a sense of belonging to a team, having the opportunity to compete at high-level competitions, the joy of the fans cheering on you, and above all, the excitement that emanates from you while you play.

Attending a good football college that adequately combines academics, social life, and football career development is the goal of every student and their parents.

Football is the number one favorite sport in the state of Ohio. As such, Ohio has some A-list football colleges established to help nurture young athletes and provide an opportunity to become pro footballers.

Are you interested in applying to football colleges in Ohio? We have taken the necessary prerequisite in curating a list of Ohio’s 10 best football colleges.

Does Ohio have Football Colleges?

As the state of Ohio is home to many professional and college sports teams, football is one of the most-rated sports in the state.

Ohio has some of the best football colleges with existing football programs, providing an avenue for student-athletes to develop their footballing skills.

These football programs are continually noted as one of the most valuable outcomes of college football.

Also read, 10 Best Football Colleges in Illinois

How many College Football Teams are in Ohio?

Ohio has eight (8) National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football teams, divided among three different conferences. 

These college football teams include Ohio State Buckeyes, Miami RedHawks, and Ohio Bobcats.

Does Ohio have Ivy League Schools?

The Ivy League schools are some of the most sought-after institutions in the world. These eight private Northeastern schools are known for their selective admissions process, academic excellence, and, most especially, their promising career opportunities.

Like many states in the United States, unfortunately, Ohio has none of its colleges and universities as a member of the Ivy League.

Nonetheless, some highly notable institutions in Ohio are considered the best in Ohio and around the world. In no particular order, here’s a list of these universities.

  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Kent State University
  • Ohio University
  • Miami University
  • Bowling Green State University 
  • University of Dayton
  • Ashland University 
  • Cleveland State University
  • Mount St. Joseph University 

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What are the Best Football Colleges in Ohio

Searching for colleges and universities with a strong football culture could be quite strenuous for both parents and their wards.

As developing their football skills isn’t the only reason for applying to such colleges, getting to a university that combines both academic and sporting activity, especially football, may be difficult as there are numerous universities with a deficiency in one or both.

To maintain balance, we have sourced from some of Ohio’s best football colleges. 

1 The Ohio State University (OSU)

This is one of the best universities in Ohio. If you’re looking for the ultimate college football experience, it’s hard to beat Ohio State University. 

The Ohio State Buckeyes, the official athletic team for the university, competes in the Big Ten Conference and holds one of the strongest rivalries in American sports with the University of Michigan Wolverines.

 In 2019, the NCAA found that Ohio State had an average home attendance of 103,383 fans, a very impressive fanbase. 

The Buckeyes have eight national championships, 38 conference titles, and have gone undefeated in 10 seasons, a dream for so many college football teams. 

The school also has some of college football’s most memorable traditions, including the “Script Ohio” marching band performance and the Victory Bell rung after every home win.

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2. Miami University 

Founded in 1809, this is the second oldest university in Ohio and the 10th oldest university in the United States.

Informally known as Miami of Ohio, Miami’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I sports teams are called the RedHawks; the program offers 18 varsity sports for men and women. They compete in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in all varsity sports except ice hockey, which competes in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

The RedHawks play in Yager Stadium, a 24,286-seat football stadium on campus. The current head coach is Chuck Martin, named head coach on December 3, 2013. 

The RedHawks compete each year against the Cincinnati Bearcats for the Victory Bell, a tradition that dates back to 1888. The Battle of the Bricks is also played annually against the Ohio Bobcats.  

The RedHawks have successfully secured 22 conference titles to their name. The official colors are Miami Red and White, and the mascot is known as Swoop the Redhawk.

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3. Bowling Green State University

The University is located in Bowling Green, Ohio. As one of the notable research institutes, the university has nationally recognized programs and research facilities in the natural and social sciences, education, and arts, to mention a few.

Bowling Green’s athletic teams are known as the Falcons. The university participates in NCAA Division I as a member of the Mid-American Conference, part of the Football Bowl Subdivision. 

The Falcons’ main rivals are the Rockets of the University of Toledo. The official colors of the college football team are Orange and Brown, with Freddie and Frieda Falcon as the Mascots.

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4. Ohio Dominican University

Go, Panther!!! The Ohio Dominican University takes great pride in combining academics and sporting activities to create a balance for the students.

Located in Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio Dominican teams, nicknamed the Panthers, compete in the NCAA Division II as members of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC).

The University joined the GMAC on July 1, 2017. Ohio Dominican originally joined the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2010 as part of the transition to NCAA Division II from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The official colors of the university’s athletic team are Black and yellow. 

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5. Ohio University

Located in Athens, Ohio, this university is the oldest as it was established on February 18, 1804.

With Rufus the Bobcat as its mascot, Ohio’s athletic teams are called the Bobcats and compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I level as charter members of the Mid-American Conference.

Ohio’s university football team has participated in 13 bowl games through the 2019 season and won 5 MAC Football Championship 

Peden Stadium, built in 1929, is the oldest football venue in the MAC and among the oldest in the nation, serves as the official stadium for Bobcats both in training and football games. The stadium has a seating capacity of 24,000.

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6.  Kent State University

Established in 1910, Kent State is the third largest university in Kent, Ohio, United States.

Kent State’s athletic teams are called the Golden Flashes, and the university’s colors are shades of navy blue and gold, officially “Kent State blue” and “Kent State gold.”

The university sponsors 16 varsity athletic teams who compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I level, with football in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Kent State is a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East division and has been a member of the conference since 1951. 

The university athletic facilities are mainly on campus, featuring the 25,319-seat Dix Stadium and the 6,327-seat Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, one of the oldest arenas in Division I college basketball.

Some notable athletic alumni include: Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach and five-time national champion head coach Nick Saban, former Missouri Tigers head football coach Gary Pinkel, 2003 British Open Champion, and current PGA member Ben Curtis, and former New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson.

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7. University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is a public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 1819 as Cincinnati College, it is the oldest institution of higher education in Cincinnati. It has an annual enrollment of over 44,000 students, making it the second largest university in Ohio.

The university competes in 19 Division I (NCAA) sports, and its athletics teams are known as the “Bearcats.” Since July 1, 2013, they have been members of the American Athletic Conference (The American). 

Nippert Stadium is home to the Cincinnati Bearcats football program. The official colors are Red and Black, and the mascot is known as The Bearcat.

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8. Kenyon College

As one of the best Universities and Ohio’s oldest private institution in Gambier, Ohio, Kenyon College strives to help nurture the athletic skills of its students.

The college’s sports teams, which compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), were referred to as the Lords and Ladies until May 2022, when a new mascot, the Owls, was announced. 

At various points in the past, the teams were also known as the “Mauve,” “Purple,” “Purple and White,” “Fighting Lords,” “Pioneers,” and simply as “Kenyon.” Their colors are purple, white, and black, with gold often added as an accent.

In 2006, Kenyon opened the $70 million Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC), a 263,000-square-foot (24,400 m2) building that houses an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two basketball courts, and eight squash courts, a weight room, a 200m track, four tennis courts, and other facilities. Field hockey, football, and men’s lacrosse are played at McBride Field, which has a seating capacity of 1,762.

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9. Ohio Wesleyan University 

Founded in 1842 by Methodist leaders and Central Ohio residents as a nonsectarian institution, Ohio Wesleyan University is a university for all students irrespective of religion or race.

Ohio Wesleyan participates in the NCAA’s Division III as a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) member. The University’s athletic team is known as the Battling Bishops.

Ohio Wesleyan competes in 25 varsity men’s and women’s sports. The newest sports, men’s wrestling, and women’s rowing, begin competition during the 2018–2019 academic year. The official school colors are Red and Black.

Ohio Wesleyan has won five NCAA Division III Championships. In addition, Ohio Wesleyan’s varsity athletic teams have been NCAC champions over 100 times, leading the Denison Big Red and the Kenyon Owls.

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10. Denison University 

As one of the earliest colleges established in the former Northwest Territory, Denison University was founded in 1831. 

The college’s intercollegiate athletic team, Big Red, competes in the North Coast Athletic Conference, fielding 24 varsity teams in the NCAA Division III. Historically, the college has a strong rivalry with Kenyon College Swim & Dive. Denison is a member of the Five Colleges of Ohio and the Great Lakes Colleges Association.

As a part of the 10-member conference, Denison boasts of a league-record of 11 Dennis M. Collins Awards, which are given to the NCAC school that performs best across the conference’s 23 sponsored sports: 11 for men and 12 for women. 

Denison University has won nine consecutive All-Sports Awards. The University also boasts of 49 NCAA postgraduate scholars and 87 Academic All-Americans.

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What are the Division 1 (d1) Football Colleges in Ohio? 

The Division 1 (d1) level has the best football programs in Ohio. D1 college football teams are classified in one of two subdivisions: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)

The most elite teams are found in the FBS subdivision. These schools are allowed to give out 85 full-ride scholarships, and usually attract four-star and five-star recruits at the top of their game. 

On the other hand, FCS college football teams are extremely competitive in their own right, with their fair share of five-star and four-star athletes. FCS football teams can give out a maximum of 63 scholarships and can split up their scholarship money however they want

Here’s a list of some of the  D1 football colleges in Ohio.

University of Akron

  • Team: Akron Zips
  • Location: Akron
  • Subdivision: FBS

Bowling Green State University

  • Team: Bowling Green Falcons
  • Location: Bowling Green
  • Subdivision: FBS

University of Cincinnati

  • Team: Cincinnati Bearcats
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Subdivision: FBS

University of Dayton

  • Team: Dayton Flyers
  • Location: Dayton
  • Subdivision: FCS

Ohio University

  • Team: Ohio Bobcats
  • Location: Athens
  • Subdivision: FBS

Ohio State University

  • Team: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Location: Columbus
  • Subdivision: FBS 

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What are the Division 2 (d2) Football Colleges in Ohio?

Student-athletes who want to partake in high-level competitions but also prefer a more balanced approach to sports and academics should consider Division 2 (D2) schools.

D2 colleges and universities are also perfect for student-athletes who may prefer a smaller campus, or the opportunity to get playing time for all four-year duration.

The Division 2 (D2) football colleges in Ohio are as follows;

Ashland University 

  • Team: Ashland Eagles
  • Location: Ashland
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Cedarville University

  • Team: Cedarville Yellow Jackets
  • Location: Cedarville
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Central State University

  • Team: Central State Marauders 
  • Location: Wilberforce
  • Conference: SIAC

University of Findlay

  • Team: Findlay Oilers
  • Location: Findlay
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Lake Erie College

  • Team:  Lake Erie Storm
  • Location: Painesville
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Malone University

  • Team: Malone Pioneers
  • Location: Canton
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Notre Dame College

  • Team: Notre Dame Falcons
  • Location: South Euclid
  • Conference: Mountain East

Ohio Dominican University

  • Team: Ohio Dominican Panthers
  • Location: Columbus
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Tiffin University

  • Team: Tiffin Dragons 
  • Location: Tiffin
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Ursuline College

  • Team: Ursuline Arrows
  • Location: Pepper Pike
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Walsh University

  • Team: Walsh Cavaliers
  • Location: North Canton
  • Conference: Great Midwest

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in California

What are the Division 3 (d3) Football Colleges in Ohio?

Although the lowest division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), it also serves as the largest division in terms of the number of schools and student-athletes that participate in the annual competition.

However, D3 football college primarily focuses on academics and offers no athletic scholarship.

The state of Ohio has about 21 D3 football colleges. These football colleges include

Baldwin Wallace University

  • Team: Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets
  • Location: Berea
  • Conference: Ohio

Capital University

  • Team: Capital Comets
  • Location: Bexley
  • Conference: Ohio

Denison University

  • Team: Denison Big Red
  • Location: Granville
  • Conference: North Coast

John Carroll University

  • Team: John Carroll Blue Streaks
  • Location: University Heights
  • Conference: Ohio

Kenyon College

  • Team: Kenyon Lords and Ladies
  • Location: Gambier
  • Conference: North Coast

Mount St. Joseph University

  • Team: Mount St. Joseph Lions
  • Location: Cincinnati
  • Conference: HCAC

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What are the Best Junior Colleges in Ohio for Football?

In Ohio, a junior football college is a two-year post-secondary college whose main objective is to provide academic, vocational, and professional education for its students.

The best Junior colleges for football in Ohio, arranged in alphabetical order, are:

  • Bryant and Stratton College, Solon
  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cincinnati 
  • Clark State Community College, Springfield 
  • Columbus State and Community College, Columbus 
  • Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland
  • Edison Community College, Piqua
  • Hocking College, Nelsonville
  • Lake land Community College, Kirtland
  • Lorain Community College, Elyria
  • Owens Community College, Toledo
  • Sinclair Community College, Dayton
  • Terra State Community College, Freemont 

This will also interest you: 10 Best Football Colleges in Texas

How to Join a Football Club in Ohio

The apex of every student-athlete or young footballer’s career belongs to their chosen football club.

Although joining a football club may prove difficult, studies have shown that young athletes are usually overwhelmed with finding the right ways to join a football club.

Home to the Buckeyes football team, the state of Ohio has some of the best football clubs, and listed below are ways to ensure your membership in a football club.

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in the UK

Join a Football Academy

Young talents fail to understand the importance of a football academy. It’s not enough to have natural talent; these talents have to be developed properly so that you can become a professional footballer.

Football academies will teach you how to play as a team member, control your impulses in the field of play, and accurately understand the rules of the game of football.

Some of the best football academies in Ohio include Ohio Elite Soccer Academy, Toledo Football Academy, and Sporting Padula Soccer Academy.

For Further reading, click: 10 Best Football Colleges in Georgia

Get a Trusted Football Agent

In the football industry, getting a football agent is one crucial necessity to get into a football club. Agents also serve as scouts for their clients.

An agent’s work is to search for football clubs, draft documents and ensure that the offers these clubs propose are convenient for you.

You must be ready to pay the cost to get a good football agent.

Belong to a local Team

Local teams are always grassroots breeding grounds for young talents, and scouts are always affiliated with these local teams searching with eagle eyes for only the best.

Always be your best in joining a local team and maintain good connections with the coaches. You are sure to get picked.

Own a Social Media Account

In this digital age, you should never underestimate the power and influence of social media. Football clubs in Ohio have social media pages on all major platforms.

You should use this to your advantage as a young footballer with prospects. Always post yourself displaying your skills, and tag these clubs if necessary. With luck on your side, you will be picked.

Attend Open Day Trials

The major motive for these trials is for clubs to scout the best players. Once attending these trials, always be confident, especially in displaying your football skills.

It should be pointed out that scouts from each professional football club are always present seeking young talents.


In enjoying your college experience, you should consider that selecting the best college football is solely in your hands.

As such, ensure that you carefully select the colleges and universities that offer the right proportion of academic work, social life, and football skill development.

Good luck!

Also Read: 10 Best Football Colleges in Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions 

How many college football programs are in Ohio?

The state of Ohio has about 28 college football programs.

How many scholarships do D1 football colleges get?

Division 1 FBS teams can give athletes a maximum of 85 full-ride scholarships. The 85 FBS scholarships are headcount scholarships, which means every athlete who receives a scholarship at the DI FBS level gets a full-ride scholarship.

What is the minimum GPA for a Division 1 scholarship?

The minimum GPA you can have to be considered an early academic qualifier for D1 is a 2.3 GPA, and a 980 SAT combined score or 75 ACT sum score.

Does Ohio State University belong to the Ivy League?

Unfortunately, Ohio State University does not belong to the Ivy League Schools.


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