As we all know, the real reason for college football is to give millions of fans who have, for the most part, little to nothing to do with the teams a reason to argue about who's team is the best. So, in the spirit of encouraging and inflaming said debate, here is the (Not-Even-Close-to-)Definitive Ranking of All College Football Big 5 Teams.
In the interest of replicating the laid-back aura of college, these numbers use only the facts that can be found in the "Quick Facts" box on the right side of the Wikipedia article for each team; Namely, the stadium size, Win pct, bowl wins, national championships, conference championships, Heismen, and Consensus All-Americans. To further the college theme, the rankings use another college hallmark: SAT Scores. For those who don't know, the SAT follows a Normal curve with a mean of 500 and standard deviation of 100 (meaning 500 is an average school)
In this case, I standardized each of the individual components listed above, put them on a scale resembling that of the SAT, and then found the average of the components for each school. Here are the bests and worsts from each component, followed by the scores for all 62 Big 5 schools
Note: the SAT caps scores at 800 max. I elected not to do so in order to give a better impression of the magnitude of the differences between some schools.
The Best: Michigan (The Big House, capacity 109,901 / SAT Score: 718)
Michigan's Big House is one of the most formidable environments in college football, and the size is a large part of why. Built in 1927, Michigan Stadium is the largest stadium in the US and third-largest in the world. The Big House hosted the largest crowd in college football history (115,109) when Michigan beat Notre Dame, 41-30, on September 7, 2013.
Second Place: Penn State (Beaver Stadium, 106,572 / 701)
The Worst: Wake Forest (BB&T Field / Groves Stadium, capacity 31,500 / SAT Score: 318)
While Wake Forest is certainly not known for their football, this one took me by surprise a little bit. I thought that Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium (which hosted the 1942 Rose Bowl) to take the prize, but Groves Stadium had them beat by about 2400 fans. Groves was built in 1967 for just $4 million.
Second Place: Washington State (Martin Stadium, 32,740 / 328)
The Best: Michigan (.732 / SAT Score: 699)
The school with the most wins in college football history also sports the best winning percentage. Michigan began playing football in 1879, and joined the Big Ten (then the Western Conference) in 1896 as a founding member. Michigan has 910 wins to match just 321 losses and 36 ties.
Second Place: Oklahoma (.720 / 684)
The Worst: Wake Forest (.410 / SAT Score: 291)
Just as the team with the biggest stadium has the highest winning percentage, so the team with the smallest stadium has the lowest winning percentage. Wake Forest is easy to understand; it's the third-smallest school in the FBS by enrollment, and easily the smallest in the big 5. WF has been playing since 1888, with an overall record of 429-624-33.
Second Place: Indiana (.424 / 309)
The Best: Alabama (34 wins / SAT Score: 758)
Alabama has been successful for quite a while, and has the postseason success to show it. Those bowl wins have come since 1926, beginning with a 10-9 win over Washington, and their recent loss to Oklahoma snapped a 4-game winning streak that included three national championships.
Second Place: USC (32 / 732)
The Worst: Northwestern (2 wins / SAT Score: 338)
Ah, Northwestern. The B1G's perpetual little brother. while the "mildcats" jokes might have started with Kansas State, they could just as easily refer to the other purple team from the midwest. Northwestern's two bowl wins came in the 1948 Rose Bowl against Cal and the 2012 Gator Bowl against Mississippi State, the second snapping a 9-bowl-game losing streak.
Second place: Duke / Indiana / Iowa State (3 / 351)
The Best: Alabama (15 championships / SAT Score: 886)
That's a lot of national championships. 1925, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2012. Alabama has been good for a long time, with 10 undefeated seasons (9 perfect).
Second place: Michigan/USC (11 / 764)
The Worst: A lot (27 teams) (0 championships / SAT Score: 428)
Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Northwestern, NC State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Purdue, South Carolina, Texas Tech, UNC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington State, Wisconsin, West Virginia. Just keep trying, guys. You'll get there one day.
Second place: Arkansas / Boston College / Clemson / Colorado / Iowa / Kentucky / Maryland / Syracuse / UCLA (1 / 459)
*These are the National Championships claimed by the school. Feel free to criticize it in the comments
The Best: Nebraska (46 championships / SAT Score: 806)
Nebraska has been winning conference championships since 1894, although they're still waiting on their first of the 21st century. Most came in the Big 6/7/8/12, where either Nebraska or Oklahoma won the conference all but 9 times between 1948 and 1995. Their last title came in 1999, where they beat Texas in the Big 12 championship
Second Place: Oklahoma (44 / 787)
The Worst: Boston College / Mississippi State (1 championship / SAT Score: 379)
Of these two, Mississippi State is probably the worst with regards to conference championships: Boston College was independent until they joined the Big East in 1991, while Mississippi State has played in the SEC since 1932. In all that time, Mississippi won once, in 1940, when their only loss was to Duquense. Duquense.
Second place: Indiana / Iowa State / Kentucky / Pittsburgh / South Carolina / Wake Forest (2 / 389)
The Best: Ohio State (7 Heismen / SAT Score: 907)
Ohio State has been a veritable Heisman-winner factory, producing 5.5 running backs and 1.5 quarterbacks as winners. The list: QB/RB Les Horvath, RB Vic Janowicz, RB Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy, RB Archie Griffin, RB Archie Griffin, RB Eddie George, and QB Troy Smith.
Second Place: USC (6 / 840)
The Worst: A lot more (34 teams) (0 Heismen / SAT Score: 437)
Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Boston College, California, Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, Northwestern, NC State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech, UNC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington State, Washington, West Virginia. Life is haaard.
Second Place: Alabama / Baylor / Colorado / Iowa / LSU / Minnesota / Oklahoma State / Oregon State / Penn State / Pittsburgh / South Carolina / Stanford / Syracuse / TCU / UCLA (1 / 504)
The Best: USC (80 All-Americans / SAT Score: 770)
USC has been known for a long time for churning out quality talent, and their 80 All-Americans show it. From O.J. Simpson to Matt Leinart, USC has been recruiting and developing top-tier talent ever since their first season in 1888.
Second Place: Michigan / Ohio State (78 / 760)
The Worst: Mississippi State (2 All-Americans / SAT Score: 388)
I had fun with this one. The individual responsible for Northwestern's Wikipedia page decided not to list their consensus All-Americans anywhere on the page, so I wound up going to sports-reference.com and using their lists. I was tempted to just give Northwestern 0 All-Americans, but that wouldn't really be fair. They've already been on the wrong side of this list enough (they actually have 13, for those of you who are wondering).
Second Place: Iowa State / Wake Forest (3 / 393)
|TEAM||TOTAL||STADIUM SIZE||WIN PCT||BOWL WINS||NATL CHAMPS||CONF CHAMPS||HEISMEN||ALL-AMERICANS|
But we all know who the best really is...