Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2020

Examining where teams rank in terms of talent heading into the season

Recruiting is the foundation for winning national championships, competing for CFB Playoff berths or performing at a high level in college football. While recruiting rankings aren’t 100 percent accurate, there is plenty of truth in the rankings and evaluations by the experts. Additionally, with advances in technology to watch more prospects, along with more offseason camps, the rankings for prospects and classes as a whole are more accurate than they were just a few years ago. Since the start of the CFB Playoff era, all six champions have come from teams ranked inside of the top five in overall roster talent. It’s no secret what a program needs in order to win big at this level. Great coaching, support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and luck certainly helps, but talent on the roster (and player development) provides a significant head start in the race to win it all each season. 

 

Just how important are recruiting rankings and the overall talent evaluation? Alabama (No. 1) has won five national championships since 2009. Additionally, the Crimson Tide, LSU, Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State - the top five teams in this metric - have all played for or won a national title in the CFB Playoff era. Three teams from the SEC rank inside of the top four for 2020, with Ohio State (No. 3) and Clemson (No. 5) rounding out the top five. 

 

Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for the Power 5 schools, Notre Dame and BYU over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition. However, with a five-year window in place, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.

 

By Conference: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2020

Rk Conf Rk Team Conference '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 Avg W/L Conf.
1 1 SEC 2 1 7 1 1 2.4 66-6 36-4
2 2 SEC 1 2 1 3 7 2.8 54-15 30-10
3 1 Big Ten 5 14 2 2 4 5.4 61-7 40-4
4 3 SEC 4 5 15 7 3 6.8 51-14 29-11
5 1 ACC 3 10 6 16 10 9.0 69-5 38-2
6 4 SEC 7 11 12 9 9 9.6 42-24 22-18
7 1 Big 12 9 3 3 26 11 10.4 35-29 24-21
8 2 Big Ten 14 8 21 5 5 10.6 47-18 32-12
9 2 Big 12 11 6 9 8 20 10.8 58-10 41-4
9 5 SEC 8 9 14 10 13 10.8 44-20 27-13
11 6 SEC 6 4 17 12 18 11.4 40-25 21-19
12 2 ACC 22 18 11 6 2 11.8 38-26 21-19
13 3 Big Ten 15 13 5 15 19 13.4 49-17 32-12
14   IND 17 15 10 11 15 13.6 47-17  
15 7 SEC 10 12 20 17 14 14.6 35-28 16-24
16 1 Pac-12 12 7 16 19 28 16.4 41-24 26-19
17 3 ACC 13 28 8 13 21 16.6 40-25 25-15
18 2 Pac-12 55 20 4 4 8 18.2 42-24 32-13
19 3 Pac-12 16 16 13 22 29 19.2 47-20 30-15
20 8 SEC 18 17 19 21 26 20.2 29-34 16-24
21 4 Big Ten 20 19 22 23 24 21.6 28-34 18-26
22 4 Pac-12 21 21 39 14 16 22.2 44-22 30-15
23 5 Pac-12 32 44 18 20 12 25.2 25-37 18-27
24 9 SEC 39 22 31 30 6 25.6 30-31 14-26
25 10 SEC 27 24 27 24 31 26.6 38-27 18-22
26 4 ACC 19 32 23 27 35 27.2 31-32 19-21
27 3 Big 12 28 33 25 31 23 28.0 40-25 25-20
28 6 Pac-12 24 31 37 37 27 31.2 33-31 21-24
29 11 SEC 23 34 38 29 34 31.6 37-27 18-22
30 12 SEC 30 23 55 28 25 32.2 23-39 9-31
31 5 Big Ten 43 30 32 35 22 32.4 39-26 24-20
32 6 Big Ten 31 46 28 18 42 33.0 21-40 10-34
33 7 Big Ten 25 27 44 40 32 33.6 52-16 34-10
34 4 Big 12 54 35 30 39 17 35.0 36-29 22-23
35 7 Pac-12 29 43 34 33 36 35.0 46-21 28-17
36 5 ACC 72 26 24 25 41 37.6 40-26 24-16
37 6 ACC 41 29 26 52 49 39.4 36-28 18-22
37 5 Big 12 45 37 33 38 44 39.4 45-20 28-17
39 8 Big Ten 34 40 40 41 46 40.2 47-19 29-15
40 7 ACC 44 55 46 34 30 41.8 36-29 24-16
41 8 ACC 42 73 29 32 37 42.6 35-29 21-19
42 6 Big 12 36 49 35 57 39 43.2 38-25 25-20
43 9 Big Ten 37 42 36 58 48 44.2 38-26 19-25
44 8 Pac-12 38 41 43 70 38 46.0 33-30 17-28
45 13 SEC 50 36 42 50 53 46.2 30-32 14-26
46 9 ACC 26 52 51 46 59 46.8 27-34 16-24
47 9 Pac-12 35 45 52 36 69 47.4 29-34 16-29
48 10 ACC 61 47 61 47 33 49.8 32-31 14-26
49 7 Big 12 46 48 53 53 52 50.4 29-34 20-25
50 10 Big Ten 47 51 59 48 51 51.2 39-26 27-17
51 11 Big Ten 33 25 49 71 80 51.6 22-40 14-30
52 12 Big Ten 58 38 48 63 56 52.6 30-33 15-29
53 10 Pac-12 62 56 58 45 43 52.8 26-36 15-30
53 10 Pac-12 56 64 45 44 55 52.8 43-22 29-16
55 11 ACC 48 39 64 56 60 53.4 29-35 17-23
56 14 SEC 52 58 41 64 54 53.8 24-38 10-30
57 12 ACC 59 53 50 55 66 56.6 27-34 14-26
58 12 Pac-12 53 68 69 49 46 57.0 14-46 8-37
59 8 Big 12 49 67 74 51 45 57.2 27-35 15-30
60 13 ACC 60 54 60 65 58 59.4 33-31 15-25
61 13 Big Ten 64 61 57 42 74 59.6 13-47 4-40
62 9 Big 12 51 62 68 60 73 62.8 36-28 22-23
63 14 Big Ten 87 63 54 43 71 63.6 20-41 10-34
64 14 ACC 63 60 67 66 75 66.2 30-33 14-26
65 10 Big 12 57 65 62 68 89 68.2 9-51 3-42
66   IND 78 79 78 67 50 70.4 36-28  

 

Takeaways From Roster Rankings

 

* During the College Football Playoff era (since 2014), every champion currently ranks inside of the top five of the roster rankings going into 2020.

 

* Only two teams – Michigan State and Washington – rank outside of the top 16 in roster rankings and made the CFB Playoff. 

 

* Alabama has reeled in eight No. 1 recruiting classes since 2011.

 

* Georgia has closed the gap to Alabama for the No. 1 spot in the roster rankings. Prior to 2018, the Bulldogs had an average of 4.8 over a five-year window for recruiting rankings. Going into 2020, that number has been lowered to 2.8.

 

* Georgia has not finished below No. 3 in each of its last four classes.

 

* Auburn (No. 6) is the highest-rated team in roster talent to not have a CFB Playoff appearance.

 

* It just means more? The SEC takes 12 of the top 30 spots in the roster rankings, with four coming in the top six – Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Auburn.

 

* Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson are the only teams with fewer than 10 losses since the 2016 season.

 

* Ohio State holds a significant edge in roster talent over its Big Ten counterparts. Consider this: The SEC’s No. 6 team in the roster rankings is Texas A&M (No. 11 nationally). The No. 6 team in roster rankings in the Big Ten is Maryland at No. 32.

 

* Since 2017, both Michigan and Penn State have improved their roster talent. The Wolverines rank No. 8 (up from No. 14) and the Nittany Lions check in at No. 13 (up from No. 21).

 

* Clemson has passed Florida State for the No. 1 roster in the ACC according to recruiting rankings. The Tigers rank No. 5 nationally going into 2020 – a significant increase from their 2017 rank (No. 12).

 

* Florida tied for second nationally in roster rankings prior to the 2014 season. The Gators have slipped into a tie with Oklahoma for No. 9 going into 2020. However, coach Dan Mullen has reeled in back-to-back top-10 classes.

 

* The 2020 season is a critical one for coach Tom Herman at Texas. The Longhorns aren’t hurting for talent. This program has reeled in three consecutive top-10 classes and ranked No. 3 in back-to-back years (2018-19).

 

* Although Texas has the No. 1 overall roster in the conference, six Big 12 opponents have more overall victories than Texas from 2016-19.

 

* USC ranked No. 6 in the roster rankings prior to the 2017 season. However, the Trojans have fallen to No. 18 and no longer hold the top spot in the Pac-12.

 

* Washington has inked three consecutive classes ranked No. 16 or higher.

 

* Similar to its rival USC, UCLA is also trending in the wrong direction. The Bruins ranked No. 13 in this article in 2017 but have fallen to No. 23.

 

* Since 2010, Nebraska has signed only one class (2014) that ranked outside of the top 30.

 

* South Carolina, Nebraska, UCLA and Ole Miss are the only four teams in top 25 roster talent that have a losing record since 2016.

 

* Wisconsin ranks No. 33 in the roster rankings but has won 52 games since 2016. Only Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama have more overall wins in that span.

 

* Oklahoma and Texas are the only Big 12 teams to rank inside of the top 25 for roster talent.

 

* Only three ACC teams – Clemson, Florida State and Miami – rank inside the top 25 of roster talent for 2020.

 

* Georgia Tech is a program on the rise under coach Geoff Collins. The Yellow Jackets brought in the No. 26 haul for 2020, which is easily the program’s highest ranking over the last 11 classes.

 

* Virginia Tech’s 2020 class rated No. 72 nationally, which dropped the program to No. 36 overall. Prior to 2017, the Hokies ranked No. 28 overall in roster talent.

 

* Purdue ranks No. 51 nationally, but this team is likely to move up the list in future seasons. Coach Jeff Brohm has inked two standout classes (No. 25 in 2019 and No. 33 in 2020). Those classes are weighted down a bit by the No. 80 haul in ’16.

 

* Utah checks in at No. 35 nationally in roster rankings prior to 2020. That’s a significant jump after ranking No. 45 prior to 2017.

 

* Minnesota has moved to No. 43 in roster talent after reeling in three consecutive classes ranked inside of the top 45.

 

* Arizona signed the No. 43 class in 2016 and the No. 45 haul in ’17. However, the Wildcats have ranked No. 56 or worse in three consecutive classes.

 

* New Arkansas coach Sam Pittman deserves credit for salvaging his first class in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks finished No. 30 nationally, which isn’t too far of a drop from the No. 23 rank in 2019.

 

* North Carolina’s 2020 class finished No. 19 overall. That’s the best haul by the Tar Heels since a No. 19 finish in 2011.

 

* Only five teams – Washington State, BYU, Northwestern, Wake Forest and Kansas State – have an overall winning record since 2016 outside of the top 50.

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