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Which college football teams outrecruited their conferences the most in 2015?

Recruiting better than teams you won't play is good for your self-esteem. Recruiting better than teams you *will* play is good for your future success. Rankings from No. 1 to No. 125 at bottom.

Raw recruiting rankings tell one story well: championships. Three of the four first-ever Playoff teams are Nos. 1, 2, and 3 in the four-year recruiting standings.

But what about the fourth? Oregon tends to rank around No. 17, yet it's been one of the country's best programs for years.

The Ducks' run can be explained in part by coaching continuity and a wealthy alumnus, but also by the fact that they're a relative recruiting elite. Until UCLA's 2015 surge, Oregon ranked second as of late in the Pac-12 behind USC, which was too NCAA-crippled to bring in full classes. So you can capably argue Oregon was the most complete recruiter west of Texas, in addition to having a world-class development culture.

Still, on paper, Florida State had better talent than Oregon last year. That's been the case for four decades or so. But Oregon never played FSU until the Rose Bowl semifinal. The Ducks had to beat the allegedly more talented team once, not annually. In Oregon's world, FSU's five-star ratings were irrelevant every year until they met in Pasadena, at which point the Ducks' coveted stud athletes outclassed the Seminoles'.

SB Nation presents: The way-too-early top 10

Having more raw talent than a particular team only matters if you actually play that team, and it only really matters if you play that team frequently. In one game between comparable teams, a raw talent edge might not mean much (though in the one game between Oregon and Ohio State, the higher-ranked recruiter won).

Over a fuller timeline, history shows better-rated teams win more often, even at the non-championship levels, which still matter a whole lot.

Say your team ranks No. 25 in recruiting. Your freshmen rank ahead of 100 or so FBS programs, most of which they'll never face. That's great! But your No. 25 class ranks behind five conference rivals, which they will face yearly or so. (Good thing your coaches are excellent developers and tacticians.)

Based on the 247Sports Composite team rankings, here's how well each team ranked in 2015 in comparison to its conference's average.


School Conference Conference average Standard deviations above/below avg.
1 Ohio State Big Ten 41.571 1.97
2 Florida State ACC 38.429 1.85
3 Boise State Mountain West 97.75 1.64
4 San Jose State Mountain West 97.75 1.60
5 Western Michigan MAC 101.15 1.59
6 Clemson ACC 38.429 1.59
7 Penn State Big Ten 41.571 1.53
8 Marshall Conference USA 98.308 1.49
9 USC Pac-12 32.75 1.48
10 Texas Big 12 41.2 1.46
11 Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt 103.45 1.38
12 Alabama SEC 17.786 1.31
13 Oklahoma Big 12 41.2 1.27
14 Florida Atlantic Conference USA 98.308 1.25
15 UCLA Pac-12 32.75 1.24
16 Miami (Ohio) MAC 101.15 1.23
17 San Diego State Mountain West 97.75 1.21
18 Louisiana Tech Conference USA 98.308 1.19
19 USF AAC 85.417 1.18
20 Toledo MAC 101.15 1.17
21 Michigan State Big Ten 41.571 1.08
22 South Alabama Sun Belt 103.45 1.08
23 Tennessee SEC 17.786 1.07
24 Cincinnati AAC 85.417 1.05
25 Northern Illinois MAC 101.15 1.04
26 Arkansas State Sun Belt 103.45 1.03
27 LSU SEC 17.786 1.00
28 UCF AAC 85.417 0.99
29 Memphis AAC 85.417 0.86
30 Georgia Southern Sun Belt 103.45 0.85
31 Oregon Pac-12 32.75 0.81
32 Ohio MAC 101.15 0.80
33 Auburn SEC 17.786 0.68
34 Southern Miss Conference USA 98.308 0.66
35 Arizona State Pac-12 32.75 0.62
36 Texas State Sun Belt 103.45 0.61
37 Georgia SEC 17.786 0.61
38 Temple AAC 85.417 0.60
39 Miami ACC 38.429 0.60
40 Nebraska Big Ten 41.571 0.59
41 Fresno State Mountain West 97.75 0.58
42 North Carolina ACC 38.429 0.54
43 Virginia Tech ACC 38.429 0.49
44 Texas A&M SEC 17.786 0.45
45 NC State ACC 38.429 0.44
46 Central Michigan MAC 101.15 0.44
47 Stanford Pac-12 32.75 0.42
48 Wisconsin Big Ten 41.571 0.42
49 SMU AAC 85.417 0.41
50 Texas Tech Big 12 41.2 0.40
51 Louisville ACC 38.429 0.34
52 Washington Pac-12 32.75 0.33
53 Kent State MAC 101.15 0.25
54 West Virginia Big 12 41.2 0.25
55 Baylor Big 12 41.2 0.20
56 Michigan Big Ten 41.571 0.20
57 FIU Conference USA 98.308 0.19
58 Old Dominion Conference USA 98.308 0.14
59 Ole Miss SEC 17.786 0.06
60 Oklahoma State Big 12 41.2 0.06
61 TCU Big 12 41.2 0.01
62 Mississippi State SEC 17.786 -0.02
63 North Texas Conference USA 98.308 -0.04
64 Utah State Mountain West 97.75 -0.09
65 South Carolina SEC 17.786 -0.09
66 California Pac-12 32.75 -0.11
67 UMass MAC 101.15 -0.11
68 Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt 103.45 -0.15
69 UTSA Conference USA 98.308 -0.16
70 Troy Sun Belt 103.45 -0.21
71 Middle Tennessee Conference USA 98.308 -0.22
72 Georgia Tech ACC 38.429 -0.24
73 Wyoming Mountain West 97.75 -0.25
74 Florida SEC 17.786 -0.25
75 Houston AAC 85.417 -0.29
76 Illinois Big Ten 41.571 -0.30
77 Maryland Big Ten 41.571 -0.36
78 East Carolina AAC 85.417 -0.36
79 Rice Conference USA 98.308 -0.39
80 Arkansas SEC 17.786 -0.41
81 Bowling Green MAC 101.15 -0.42
82 Tulane AAC 85.417 -0.42
83 UNLV Mountain West 97.75 -0.44
84 Arizona Pac-12 32.75 -0.45
85 Indiana Big Ten 41.571 -0.52
86 Utah Pac-12 32.75 -0.54
87 Virginia ACC 38.429 -0.55
88 Missouri SEC 17.786 -0.56
89 Northwestern Big Ten 41.571 -0.58
90 Duke ACC 38.429 -0.60
91 Kansas State Big 12 41.2 -0.62
92 Washington State Pac-12 32.75 -0.64
93 Ball State MAC 101.15 -0.66
94 Appalachian State Sun Belt 103.45 -0.68
95 Nevada Mountain West 97.75 -0.72
96 Rutgers Big Ten 41.571 -0.74
97 New Mexico Mountain West 97.75 -0.76
98 Wake Forest ACC 38.429 -0.76
99 Eastern Michigan MAC 101.15 -0.78
100 Colorado State Mountain West 97.75 -0.80
101 UConn AAC 85.417 -0.81
102 Western Kentucky Conference USA 98.308 -0.86
103 Iowa Big Ten 41.571 -0.91
104 Hawaii Mountain West 97.75 -0.91
105 Air Force Mountain West 97.75 -1.07
106 Minnesota Big Ten 41.571 -1.08
107 Buffalo MAC 101.15 -1.09
108 New Mexico State Sun Belt 103.45 -1.09
109 Boston College ACC 38.429 -1.13
110 Idaho Sun Belt 103.45 -1.15
111 Pittsburgh ACC 38.429 -1.23
112 Purdue Big Ten 41.571 -1.30
113 Georgia State Sun Belt 103.45 -1.32
114 Syracuse ACC 38.429 -1.33
115 Iowa State Big 12 41.2 -1.44
116 Oregon State Pac-12 32.75 -1.46
117 Charlotte Conference USA 98.308 -1.51
118 Akron MAC 101.15 -1.57
119 Navy AAC 85.417 -1.58
120 Kansas Big 12 41.2 -1.59
121 Tulsa AAC 85.417 -1.64
122 Kentucky SEC 17.786 -1.65
123 Colorado Pac-12 32.75 -1.70
124 UTEP Conference USA 98.308 -1.74
125 Vanderbilt SEC 17.786 -2.20

There are exceptions to the rule. There's not even a rule.

TCU is a national title favorite despite only now becoming an average Big 12 recruiter. Arizona, Duke, Kansas State, and Missouri have won divisions or conferences in recent years. Ohio State won't boss around the Big Ten like that once Jim Harbaugh and James Franklin reach their full power. The SEC dominates the overall rankings so hilariously that national No. 17 Ole Miss has a mediocre class relative to its peers, and yet Ole Miss just got destroyed in a bowl by said mediocre Big 12 recruiter. San Jose State ... I have no idea how San Jose State did that.

But on the whole, these are the teams that put the most distance on their actual competition this class, as far as raw talent goes.