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Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are again on top, just as the recruiting rankings predicted

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Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting as well as the occasional gambling column.

That didn’t take long. Once again, college football has Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, Alabama and Ohio State with 1s and 2s next to their names.

Alabama is No. 1 in the new polls. Ohio State is No. 2.

Alabama has been No. 1 in recruiting for sixeven years running. Ohio State has been the No. 2 team in that span. Ohio State is actually No. 1 in recruiting for the class of 2017 with, yep, Alabama at No. 2 and closing hard.

Nick Saban is No. 1 in national titles among active coaches with five. Urban Meyer is No. 2 with three. Both have won championships at multiple schools. No other active coach has won multiple national titles regardless of school.

These guys just cannot get away from each other. Over the weekend, both won what will arguably be their toughest games of the year as Alabama took down Ole Miss on the road and Ohio State demolished Oklahoma in Norman.

Both teams feature suffocating defenses. Saban is arguably the finest defensive mind in college football. And his defensive front is worlds more talented than any other in the sport, rendering teams one-dimensional. This is important as even when teams jump out to a lead against Alabama, they can’t run the football to salt the game away. That gives Alabama an eternity to come back, as it did Saturday, coming back from down 24-3 to getting up 48-30 before winning by five.

And say what you will about Greg Schiano as a head coach, but he is a tremendous coach of defense. The diversity of scheme Schiano is able to pull off with such young players is great.

And their offensive attacks are increasingly similar: Power running attacks that force defenses to account for the quarterback as a run threat and open up plenty of one-on-one playmaking opportunities for talented receivers. Both have some issues with the traditional drop-back passing game when the threat of play action is minimized, but both stay out of those longer downs well thanks to being efficient early on.

Ohio State is doing it with a veteran QB in J.T. Barrett surrounded by inexperienced talent, while Alabama has the inverted model: A true freshman quarterback surrounded by a lot of experience.

When the best rosters in football are managed by the best coaches, good things seem to happen. Oh, and recruits were predictably impressed with the Buckeyes’ win in Norman.


The 13 teams to meet the championship standard of the Blue Chip Ratio are off to a combined 29-10 record. That’s not great, but digging deeper reveals half of the losses are to other teams within the group of 13. Six are still undefeated while another four have just one loss.

With the CFB Playoff Committee’s emphasis on conference titles, Notre Dame has to be eliminated with its second loss, right? There are plenty of calls from fans to make a change at defensive coordinator after Brian VanGorder’s unit has allowed 96 points in three games. The same goes for Florida State’s Charles Kelly, whose FSU defense has given up 105 points. Granted, both programs have played very tough schedules to open the year, but that is far too many points for programs with that much talent to allow regardless of schedule.

Does any team in the Big 12 project to finish with fewer than two losses? The league has combined to lose 11 games in the non-conference so far, with only Baylor and West Virginia escaping without a loss. And neither has defeated an FBS team with a winning FBS record. Baylor likely has the best shot to finish with fewer than two losses, but given its atrocious non-conference schedule (Northwestern State, SMU, and Rice), it would likely need to go undefeated to get in. And the Bears, who already lack depth, play Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, and Kansas State on consecutive Saturdays. The Big 12 is the worst recruiting league and its lack of talent is showing.

Washington could be encroaching on Oregon’s recruiting territory.

Miami commitments had a big weekend on the high school field.