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Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2014

Florida Gators

Love or hate football recruiting, it matters. Coaching, support staffs, financial situations and even a little bit of luck goes into winning football games, but having great players always helps too.

So recruiting rankings are just one facet of a deliberate and in-depth equation that helps Athlon Sports project the college football season every year.

When the staff sits down to hash out the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25 each year, recruiting rankings are as much a part of the discussion as returning starters, scheduling differences, coaching changes and historic trends. It all gets incorporated into what eventually becomes the best-selling college football preview magazine on newsstands.

My pick for the 2014 national championship is probably going to be Florida State versus Alabama. Nick Saban is the best coach in the nation, and Jimbo Fisher has quickly checked most boxes needed to earn a Hall of Fame induction. Both head coaches have a national championship on their resume — in fact, four of the five BCS titles — and both develop talent, call plays, prepare their team as well as any coach in the game today.

It doesn't hurt that they will have the best players in the nation as well. Alabama has won four straight recruiting national championships and Florida State returns the No. 2 roster in the nation — one that includes the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. 

According to the numbers, objectively, Alabama and Florida State will enter the 2014 season with the best depth charts in college football. Below is each roster in the major six leagues (plus Notre Dame, Boise State and BYU) based on average national recruiting ranking over the last five classes (according to 247Sports). Included is each team's win-loss record over the last four seasons.

 

Team

 

'14

'13

'12

'11

'10

Rank

W/L

Conf.

1.

Alabama

1

1

1

1

5

1.8

46-7

26-6

2t.

Florida State

4

10

3

2

9

5.6

45-10

26-6

2t.

Florida

9

3

4

11

1

5.6

30-21

17-15

4t.

LSU

2

6

14

7

7

7.2

44-9

25-7

4t.

Ohio State

3

2

5

6

20

7.2

42-10

26-6

6.

USC

11

12

9

3

3

7.6

35-17

23-13

7.

Texas

17

17

2

4

2

8.4

30-20

18-17

8t.

Auburn

6

13

11

8

6

8.8

37-16

19-13

8t.

Georgia

8

11

8

5

12

8.8

36-18

22-10

10t.

Oklahoma

14

16

12

13

4

11.8

43-10

27-9

10t.

Notre Dame

10

5

18

9

17

11.8

37-15

--

12.

Michigan

20

4

6

26

16

14.4

33-19

18-14

13.

Tennessee

7

24

20

14

8

14.6

21-28

7-25

14.

Oregon

21

19

13

12

13

15.6

47-6

32-4

15.

Texas A&M

5

9

16

35

18

16.6

36-16

20-13

16.

Miami

12

14

10

33

15

16.8

29-21

18-14

17.

Clemson

18

15

15

10

28

17.2

38-15

24-8

18.

South Carolina

16

20

17

16

30

19.8

42-11

23-9

19.

UCLA

19

7

19

45

10

20

29-24

19-17

20.

Stanford

13

51

7

22

22

23

46-8

31-5

21.

Washington

37

18

23

24

14

23.2

30-22

20-16

22.

Ole Miss

15

8

46

20

38

25.4

21-29

7-25

23.

Nebraska

35

22

30

17

26

26

38-16

23-9

24.

Virginia Tech

27

21

21

36

32

27.4

37-17

24-8

25.

Arkansas

30

23

28

21

36

27.6

28-22

14-18

26.

North Carolina

29

28

43

19

24

28.6

30-21

16-16

27t.

Oklahoma State

28

32

32

25

27

28.8

39-13

24-11

27t.

Penn State

24

30

48

31

11

28.8

30-20

20-12

29.

Mississippi State

38

25

22

34

29

29.6

31-21

13-19

30.

Michigan State

25

37

33

32

23

30

42-12

25-7

31.

Cal

48

39

34

15

19

31

16-33

9-27

32.

Baylor

26

27

27

46

39

33

36-16

22-13

33.

Texas Tech

41

46

25

18

44

34.8

30-21

14-21

34.

West Virginia

36

31

36

49

33

37

30-21

16-16

35.

Virginia

32

29

26

23

77

37.4

18-31

8-24

36.

Kentucky

22

34

50

37

45

37.6

15-34

4-28

37.

Missouri

39

43

31

57

21

38.2

35-17

20-13

38.

Arizona State

23

40

35

65

31

38.8

30-22

21-15

39.

TCU

42

35

29

30

62

39.6

35-16

22-12

40.

Louisville

47

36

45

29

50

41.4

37-15

20-9

41.

Rutgers

60

50

24

27

48

41.8

28-23

13-16

42t.

Pitt

44

33

42

58

34

42.2

27-25

15-14

42t.

Arizona

31

44

41

48

47

42.2

27-24

14-22

44t.

Iowa

53

58

40

28

35

42.8

28-23

15-17

44t.

Maryland

43

41

38

52

40

42.8

22-28

11-21

46.

Wisconsin

33

38

65

39

49

44.8

39-15

23-9

47.

Vanderbilt

45

26

47

56

54

45.6

26-25

12-20

48.

Utah

63

47

37

40

42

45.8

28-22

16-19

49.

Oregon State

61

45

44

43

46

47.8

24-26

17-19

50.

NC State

34

59

54

72

37

51.2

27-24

13-19

51.

USF

40

53

53

68

52

53.2

18-31

7-22

52.

Georgia Tech

54

76

52

44

41

53.4

28-25

19-13

53.

Indiana

51

42

56

55

69

54.6

15-33

6-26

54.

Northwestern

46

52

55

62

59

54.8

28-23

12-20

55.

Cincinnati

68

63

51

47

53

56.4

33-18

18-11

56.

Illinois

70

49

64

38

63

56.8

20-30

7-25

57.

Kansas

55

48

81

42

61

57.4

10-38

2-34

58.

Minnesota

57

66

59

54

55

58.2

20-30

10-22

59.

Boston College

52

87

71

41

43

58.8

20-30

12-20

60.

BYU

66

64

72

70

25

59.4

33-19

--*

61.

Kansas State

49

61

74

51

67

60.4

36-16

23-12

62.

Washington State

65

54

58

67

60

60.8

15-34

8-28

63.

Iowa State

56

60

67

59

64

61.2

19-31

11-24

64.

Purdue

72

62

49

75

51

61.8

18-32

9-23

65.

Colorado

76

68

39

64

65

62.4

13-36

6-29

66.

Houston

74

56

57

73

58

63.6

31-20

23-11

67.

Syracuse

50

73

61

61

73

63.6

27-24

14-15

68.

Duke

58

70

62

63

74

65.4

22-29

11-21

69.

Wake Forest

62

67

66

69

71

67

18-31

11-21

70.

Boise State

67

55

60

53

111

69.2

41-9

28-5

71.

UCF

59

81

101

50

56

69.4

38-15

25-7

72.

SMU

78

71

68

66

66

69.8

27-25

20-12

73.

East Carolina

75

69

79

71

85

75.8

29-22

22-10

74.

Temple

71

85

73

83

82

78.8

24-24

13-18

75.

UConn

105

65

70

80

78

79.6

21-28

13-16

76.

Tulsa

80

79

89

79

75

80.4

32-20

22-10

77.

Memphis

79

89

92

77

68

81

10-38

6-26

78.

Tulane

89

82

83

81

92

85.4

16-34

10-22

Who are the biggest overachievers?

Michigan State
The fifth-best roster in the Big Ten has delivered a Rose Bowl, Big Ten title and three seasons with at least 11 wins.

Kansas State
Bill Snyder's roster ranks 61st nationally in terms of talent but has consistently competed for Big 12 titles.

Wisconsin
Gary Andersen picked up where previous regimes left off on the field and might have actually improved UW off of it.

Stanford
Only the Ducks of Oregon have won more games than the 20th-best roster in the nation. Back-to-back Pac-12 titles.

BYU
Bronco Mendenhall has had a winning record every year since his first (9) and has six 10-win seasons. 

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Georgia Tech
Paul Johnson has never missed a bowl and consistently competes for ACC titles with 52nd-ranked roster in the nation.

Duke
The 13th-best roster in the ACC and 68th-best roster in the nation won 10 games and its division last year.
Arizona State
Todd Graham has established ASU as a top-tier Pac-12 team with middle-of-the-pack (No. 7) talent.

Missouri
The 13th-rated roster in the SEC just won the East and 12 games.

Baylor
Art Briles has improved this roster incredibly over the last few years and now has depth that he didn't have before.

Who are the biggest underachievers?

Texas
It boasts the top roster in the Big 12 (No. 7 nationally) but is just 18-17 in league play over the last four seasons. 

Florida
Eight losses with the second-ranked roster in the nation is completely unacceptable.

USC
There is a reason that there was a regime change just a month into the season in Los Angeles.

Tennessee
Derek Dooley had solid recruiting classes but couldn't deliver on the field. See USC above.

Cal
Jeff Tedford had no problems luring talent, leaving Sonny Dykes with plenty to work with in Berkeley.

North Carolina
Not an elite roster but very talented within the league and UNC hasn't lost fewer than three ACC games since 1997.

Miami
The time is now for Al Golden and the ACC's second-ranked roster.

Virginia
Wahoos rank 35th nationally — ahead of Missouri, Wisconsin and Kansas State to name a few. 

Arkansas
The Hogs had their worst season in the program's history despite ranking 25th nationally in terms of talent.
Kentucky
Uphill battle in the SEC but this group has the worst record of any "Big 5" school and is 36th nationally in talent.