The College Football Preseason Top 25 Re-ranked by Academic Strength

So you want to go to a good college, but you also want to cheer for a football team that wins on Saturday. Is there a best of both worlds when it comes to football and academics? Worry not. We’ve taken the schools with the top-ranked college football teams this upcoming season and re-ranked them by academic prowess.

 

How we ranked each college

To gauge which gridiron powerhouses also stack up in the classroom, we combined three metrics: U.S. News Best Colleges Ranking, the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR), and the AP Preseason Poll. The U.S. News ranking uses 16 indicators of academic quality to assess the educational value each college provides to its students. These indicators include admission test scores from the SAT and ACT, faculty strength, and financial resources. The GSR is the percent of athletes a school graduates. For our ranking, we used each school’s GSR for its football program in the most recent season for which data was available (2013-2014).

After turning each school’s GSR into a ranking, we combined all three rankings and sorted the schools accordingly. The final ranking rewards the top football schools that provide high quality academics and graduate most of their football players. For comparison, we also included each school’s SAT 75th percentile score for the freshman class of 2014. This means that the top quarter of freshman scored this score or higher.

Of course, we only considered schools whose football teams were ranked in the top 25, so schools with good to average football teams but superb academics and graduation rates are missed in this ranking (let’s go Blue Devils! Anyone?). That being said, check out how the preseason rankings would look if academics were also factored in.

 

Rank School AP Poll Ranking U.S. News Best Colleges Ranking SAT 75th Percentile Graduation Success Rate
1 Stanford 21 4 1570 99
2 Notre Dame 11 16 1520 94
3 UCLA 13 23 1450 88
4 USC 8 25 1480 58
5 Ohio State 1 54 1380 78
6 Georgia Tech 16 35 1480 66
7 Clemson 12 62 1340 81
8 TCU 2 76 1270 83
9 Georgia 9 62 1330 75
10 Wisconsin 20 47 1410 69
11 Boise State* 23 63 1150 85
12 Baylor 4 71 1330 72
13 Alabama 3 88 1260 80
14 Michigan State 5 85 1270 69
15 Florida State 10 95 1280 65
16 Auburn 6 103 1270 68
17 Oregon 7 106 1240 70
18 Missouri 24 99 1290 72
19 Oklahoma 19 106 1280 59
20 Tennessee 25 106 1290 62
21 LSU 14 129 1225 71
22 Arizona State 15 129 1270 69
23 Arizona 22 121 1220 65
24 Arkansas 18 135 1230 59
25 Ole Miss 17 149 1190 52

 

*U.S. News ranks Boise State as a regional college rather than a national university. Therefore, it’s ranking may be unfairly skewed. We blame that weird blue turf.

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