As someone who makes his living managing SB Nation’s college football recruiting coverage, the more that people believe recruiting matters, the better. One of the best things going right now for recruiting is the streak of national titles won by elite recruiting teams who sign more four- and five-star recruits in the previous four classes. I track the teams meeting the criteria yearly with my Blue-Chip Ratio, and also profile the teams with potential to end the streak.
This weekend the 13 teams meeting the mark went 4-1 against non-elite recruiters, with the only loss coming by LSU to Wisconsin. That’s a big loss in that it really hurts the SEC’s chances to land two teams in the college football playoff. LSU’s lack of progress on offense is extremely concerning and it is difficult to believe LSU can win out.
The other eight teams actually played each other on opening weekend.
But the most relevant result for recruiting purposes was Houston knocking off Oklahoma. Many think of Oklahoma as an elite recruiter, but over the last four seasons the Sooners have signed just 36 percent four- and five-stars, 18th nationally. Good, but not great. It’s the main reason I felt Oklahoma was seriously over-ranked in the preseason.
Still, with Baker Mayfield at quarterback Oklahoma was the team I believed had the best chance to break the streak because quarterback play can be a great equalizer. Now the Sooners might not be out, but a one-loss team from a conference like the Big XII without a conference title is not a lock to go to the playoff.
After this weekend I am feeling better than ever that the national champion will again be an elite recruiter. Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan and Clemson ranged from looking great to passing tricky tests. Those five teams are the the only programs with odds less than 15/1 to win the national title as of Wednesday morning at 5Dimes Casino. The No. 6 team in the odds? It’s actually still LSU. Vegas cares an awful lot about talent.
And no, I don’t give Houston a realistic chance even if it does make the playoff. Knocking off a seemingly disinterested, rebuilding Florida State team in a bowl game and a good-but-not-great Oklahoma roster doesn’t convince me.
Brian Kelly, QB coach
On Sunday evening I tweeted as soon as Notre Dame pulled out DeShone Kizer for Malik Zaire, pleading for Kelly to stick with Kizer, since he’s the much more talented quarterback. While I cannot understand the decision to play both, Kelly does deserve credit for developing Kizer, who was very raw coming out of high school thanks in part to playing baseball. Kizer’s footwork and decision making has improved rapidly in just two seasons and he ripped up Texas’ defense for a QB rating of 207 and added 77 yards rushing. Zaire was ineffective with a rating of just 79. If Kizer plays the whole game, Notre Dame might be undefeated.
A strange stat line
Each week I check out how the quarterbacks from the Elite 11 did via the program’s twitter account. Look at Texas A&M commit Kellen Mond’s numbers: 13 for 30 (43 percent) but for 411 yards and four touchdowns. That’s an incredible 32 yards/completion. Mond also tacked on 101 rushing yards for IMG Academy, the most loaded team in the country.