Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2014

Which teams have the most talented rosters heading into the 2014 season?

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. 

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.

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