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Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2020

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Football

Nick Saban, Alabama Crimson Tide Football

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.

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* 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.