Power Ranking All 50 States by Their College Football Teams

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIIMay 27, 2012

Power Ranking All 50 States by Their College Football Teams

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    As we approach the 13 remaining weeks left in the college football offseason, another debate has arrived. 

    This debate is simple yet complex: Which states across the country collectively feature the best college football teams?

    These states can be ranked and graded based on many factors, but a few guidelines must be thrown into the conversation.

    Recent success (what have you done for me lately) is always vital in sports, and the amount of prestigious teams plays a role as well.

    If a state has six or seven teams compared to another that only has one or two, most would have to lean with the state that is represented by the six or seven teams.

    Similar to sports and especially the landscape of college football, these rankings are in fluid motion and will change from season to season.

    Note: Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont do not have FBS college football teams so thus we have 41 states


41. New Mexico: New Mexico, New Mexico State

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    While some may argue this is the worst state out there at the moment, Bob Davie could give the Lobos a winning attitude.

    The Aggies of New Mexico State are among the worst FBS teams through recent memory, as they have not notched five or more wins since 2004.

    Meanwhile, those Lobos have not have a decent season since 2007 (9-4).

40. Wyoming: Wyoming

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    The poor Cowboys out of Laramie have battled against a few of the top teams in the country, and they have not fared all that well.

    Since 2001, the struggles have been clear for Wyoming since they have accounted for a combined record of 52-80 (although they did just go 8-5).

39. Nevada: Nevada, UNLV

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    Las Vegas and Reno, NV are not bad places to visit on vacation, but there have been vast differences in terms of a visit on the gridiron.

    The two programs are almost like night and day, but overall winning has not been important (outside of Reno)

    Chris Ault and Nevada have been consistent through the past few seasons, but Bobby Hauck has not been able to make the Rebels any sort of a contender in the Mountain West.

38. Connecticut: Connecticut

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    Despite winning the Big East two seasons ago and playing in the Fiesta Bowl, the Huskies are doing just enough to avoid the basement of the Big East.

    They are not lacking good enough players, but they could clearly use a few more studs to catch the nation's attention. 

37. Hawaii: Hawaii

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    The Warriors had their joy ride with Colt Brennan and June Jones back in 2008, and even though they were obliterated by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, they still had a magical 12-1 season.

    Hawaii caps off an exciting day in college football (their games do not end until at least 3:00 a.m. ET), and they are often overlooked by voters who are in bed way before midnight on the east coast, but they deserve their dues.

36. New Jersey: Rutgers

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    The Scarlet Knights may be the only FBS squad in the Garden State, but they clearly are headed in the right direction thanks to Greg Schiano.

    Despite Schiano's move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kyle Flood was not given an empty cupboard of talent. In the Big East, Rutgers should be a factor in the immediate future. 

35. Minnesota: Minnesota

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    The Golden Gophers were once a legit bowl contender every season when Glen Mason seemingly brought in NFL running backs like no other coach in the entire Big Ten.

    Throw in a solid offensive line, and one could argue they were like the current day Michigan State/Iowa caliber of a team that played solid defense was but known more for its offensive line and spectacular running game.

    Jerry Kill is hopefully going to return the Gophers back to national prominence despite lacking the studs on the recruiting mill.  

34. Massachusetts: Massachusetts, Boston College

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    The Minutemen enter their inaugural season in the FBS whereas Boston College is still a respectable program despite recent struggles.

    Boston College once had the record for consecutive bowl victories at eight (2000-2007), and the school appeared in 12 straight bowl games before missing out on one this past season.

    It might be a few seasons before they return to a bowl game and job security for coach Frank Spaziani.

33. Maryland: Maryland, Navy

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    “Fear the Turtle” was once a slogan used for the program, but more so the basketball team.

    Randy Edsall was expected to bring them back to relevancy after they let Ralph Friedgen go, but the squad went just 2-10 after knocking off Miami on Labor Day.

32. Colorado: Air Force, Colorado State, Colorado

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    Two of these teams reside in the Mountain West, but the Buffaloes look like they may soon be back to relevancy in the Pac-12.

    This state has had its fair share of success, but this is not exactly the season they will be expected to make their move.

31. Kansas: Kansas, Kansas State

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    Bill Snyder reshaped the way Wildcat football is to this day, as he has had two magnificent tenures in Manhattan.

    Kansas State was below the basement of the Big 12 when he originally took over, and the Wildcats quickly headed that way when he started his second tenure.

    The Jayhawks enjoyed their time with Mark Mangino as he magically and miraculously took them to a BCS bowl victory (Orange, ‘08). Charlie Weis has taken over and will look to lead KU back to the promised land. 

30. New York: Syracuse, Army, Buffalo

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    These three teams are some of your least relevant teams in college football, albeit Syracuse and Army have not exactly been garbage during the BCS era.

    The Bulls of Buffalo have ranked among the worst teams in the country outside of Turner Gill’s magical MAC championship in 2007.

    Lastly, Army hopes to return to a bowl game and end its long losing streak against Navy (10 straight).

29. Arizona: Arizona State, Arizona

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    Only two teams from the FBS are in the Grand Canyon State, but it still ranks better than several states that either have two or more teams.

    Both programs are going through new head coaches, and while they may struggle in 2012, the future should be fairly bright.

28. Washington: Washington State, Washington

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    The Apple Cup has unfortunately been down a notch, but the pageantry for this rivalry is surely underrated.

    The Huskies under Steve Sarkisian are just a player or two away from contending in the Pac-12, and the squad would love to see Keith Price lead them far.

    Washington State has Mike Leach and his pass-happy offense coming to Pullman, as the Cougars are looking for their first trip to the postseason since the 2003 Holiday Bowl.

27. Kentucky: Louisville, Kentucky, Western Kentucky

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    The Bluegrass State has given us some fond memories through the years. The Wildcats are waiting for great moments with Joker Phillips, but they have not been successful quite yet.

    Louisville, however, is looking great with Charlie Strong taking over. Bobby Petrino nearly took the 'Ville to national title in 2006-07, but an upset to Rutgers brought them down a notch.

    They ended up winning the 2007 Orange Bowl over ACC champions Wake Forest, but that ended up being the final game of the Petrino era with the Cardinals, as he moved on to coach the Atlanta Falcons.

    Bobby Rainey was one hell of a back for Willie Taggart’s Hilltoppers last season as they went 7-5 in their first season in the FBS.

    Even though this state is well-known for basketball, football is not ignored by any means with these programs.

26. Iowa: Iowa State, Iowa

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    Iowa City and Ames are both proud of their teams, but the passionate fanbases are vastly underrated.

    The Hawkeye fans will get rowdy during night games, and Kirk Ferentz brought a winning atmosphere as soon as he stepped foot on campus.

    Paul Rhoads looks like he is doing the same with the Cyclones, though it will not be easy in the much-improved Big 12.

25. Missouri: Missouri

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    Mizzou has been a solid program for many years, but they too have fallen short of a BCS bowl.

    Gary Pinkel is taking his talents over to the SEC, and we shall find out just how successful and how far this program has come since the days of Brad Smith and Chase Daniel as its quarterbacks.

24. Tennessee: Memphis, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee

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    The Volunteer State was once atop the world when Phillip Fulmer won the 1999 BCS National Championship.

    Tennessee slowly fizzled out as a national title contender, but Derek Dooley has a ton of talent returning to at least make it a successful campaign.

    Many consider Dooley to be on the hot seat after two straight losing seasons, but the health of Tyler Bray alone may give the Vols eight-plus victories.

    Vanderbilt has been a great story in the SEC and for all of college football since James Franklin took the Commodores to their third bowl appearance since 1982.

    Memphis and Middle Tennessee have been dreadful in the past few seasons, though.

    The Tigers of Memphis are just 5-31 in the last three season whereas Middle Tennessee has gone 8-17 in the previous two seasons.

    As long as the Vols can get back to relevancy in the SEC, things will seem much better than they have been for the last three seasons.

23. North Carolina: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest, ECU

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    Also known as the Tar Heel State, these five schools have not exactly been known for their talents on the gridiron.

    These five have combined for just one appearance in the BCS, and it was Wake Forest (2006 Orange Bowl), of all teams.

    Larry Fedora is looking to taking UNC to great heights in the ACC, whereas NC State is attempting to do the same under Tom O’Brien. Duke is still attempting to get to its first bowl since the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl (loss to Wisconsin).

    ECU is still fighting for its life in C-USA, although they too have not enjoyed much overall success.

22. Idaho: Boise State, Idaho

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    The Vandals have the Kibbie Dome going for them, but that is about it these days. Meanwhile, the Smurfs continue to win games, and they just be fine despite losing the winningest quarterback in the history of the FBS.

    Kellen Moore and his 50 wins are gone, but Chris Petersen is still around and the guy knows how to win. Going 73-6 in six seasons is flat-out filthy, and whether they stay put or do move to the Big East like the plan originally was, Boise State should be just fine.

    In terms of the fans, they are arguably as passionate as it gets for a non-BCS program. The Vandals may not have the biggest fan base (most argue the smallest in FBS), but Bronco nation has been loud and heard every season under Petersen.

21. Oregon: Oregon, Oregon State

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    The Civil War was once a great rivalry, and even though it has been lackluster since Chip Kelly has taken over, the Ducks are arguably one of the top five programs in college football.

    Oregon State can only hope that Mike Riley brings them back out of the basement to the top of the Pac-12, but things do not look nearly as sunny as things in Eugene these days.

20. West Virginia: West Virginia, Marshall

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    The Mountain State is well-known for the success that the Mountaineers have given them. Rich Rodriguez was followed by the late Bill Stewart, and now Dana Holgorsen is bringing in a bunch of success to this prestigious program.

    West Virginia is now in the Big 12, which should allow the program to reach higher achievements.

    Marshall is well-coached by Doc Holliday, and they are coming off a decent 7-6 season that was capped off with a bowl victory.

    The Thundering Herd have had previous success in the MAC and are still respectable in C-USA.

19. Wisconsin: Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin will be attempting to reach its third straight Rose Bowl, although they have yet to win one since 1999-2000.

    The Badgers have been the recent class of the Big Ten while winning most of their crucial regular-season matchups.

    If the defense can continue to step up to the plate and or even improve, we could see them reach more national success. 

18. Utah: Brigham Young, Utah, Utah State

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    Gary Andersen could only go 4-8 during his first two seasons with the Aggies, but despite losing several close games a year ago Utah State ended up 7-6.

    The Utes have a tremendous coach in Kyle Whittingham, and their 2012 schedule could allow them to reach new heights.

    Posting a 66-25 record overall (39-18 conference) is legit, and the Utes should only get more accustomed to the solid competition they face in the Pac-12.

    Obviously, Whittingham carried them to an undefeated season in 2008, but Urban Meyer did the same back in 2004 before he bolted to Florida.

    Brigham Young has a storied program, and Bronco Mendenhall is coming off a respectable 10-3. It was the Cougars' first complete season as an Independent school without a conference affiliation. They will become a nationally ranked team if they can stand up against the likes of Boise State, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Utah.

    Overall, this state still has to make some strides to be considered among the better ones out there, but the future looks bright.

17. Illinois: Illinois, Northwestern, Northern Illinois

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    Illinois loves its football, and while many are Notre Dame fans, the Big Ten is and always will be loaded with fans from all over the Midwest.

    So many are Michigan fans as well, but the Wildcats, Illini and Huskies have all produced winning seasons more times than not.

    Sure, Illinois has its issues in the Big Ten, but Northwestern is doing everything but compete for the Rose Bowl and-or win its bowl game.

    Northern Illinois is starting to dominate the MAC (22-5 last two years), and it may only be a matter of time before the Huskies become nationally ranked on a consistent basis.

16. Virginia: Virginia Tech, Virginia

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    The Hokies and Wahoos has given us some decent President’s Cup matchups, but that is only because Frank Beamer is just that darn good.

    Beamer has had eight consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins and he will likely make it 11 straight seasons with a loaded defense returning in the ACC.

    Mike London made a great turnaround for Virginia, comparing season one to two when Virginia saw its win total double.

    The future is bright for both of these programs, although it is clear as day that Blacksburg is beautiful thanks to Beamer and the boys who keep on grinding.

15. Arkansas: Arkansas, Arkansas State

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    Les Miles may not be welcomed or appreciated much at Arkansas when he calls the Razorbacks in correctly (Ark followed up by a Kansas), but the Razorbacks have a chance to make this an important state in 2012.

    Pig Sooie has so many explosive playmakers back on offense and even the Red Wolves deserve some love with Ryan Aplin returning as their signal-caller.,

14. Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple

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    Penn State may have lost an icon in Joe Paterno, but Bill O’Brien is only looking to put the Nittany Lions back into contention for a Big Ten title (or at least a division title).

    The Nittany Lions have gone 38-14 in the last four seasons, but the Big Ten is only going to get better (Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska are all likely top 15 squads).

    Pittsburgh has gone through a bevy of coaches; try five since 2005!

    The Panthers at the moment are in the Big East until they make their move to the ACC in the summer of 2013, but Paul Chryst should put this team in the right direction.

    Temple could have stayed in the MAC and competed for a conference title, but coming off their sensational 9-4 season they wanted to take on a much tougher challenge.

    Moving to the Big East should test them immediately, but Steve Addazio has the capability of landing even better recruits to at least avoid the basement of the Big East in the near future.

13. Mississippi: Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Mississippi State

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    Brett Favre’s Southern Miss Golden Eagles are attempting to get back to kicking in teeth despite losing their head coach. Coming off a C-USA championship is legit, but will they be able to keep it up?

    The Rebels and Bulldogs give us a great Egg Bowl matchup every season, but it hasn’t been great when one or both of the programs are down a bit.

    Usually one team is a solid top 25 squad or at least relevant in terms of appearing in a bowl game.

    However, with Ole Miss currently down and Dan Mullen searching for more success, there has not been a ton of national excitement building around the state of Mississippi at the moment.

12. South Carolina: Clemson, South Carolina

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    The Gamecocks and Tigers have behaved well since their 2004 brawl (Clemson won 29-7).

    South Carolina is coming off its best two-year span of football in the history of the program thanks to Steve Spurrier’s ability to recruit sensational defensive players to go along with his solid offensive playmakers.

    Dabo Swinney and Clemson have tricked us several times as we continue to think they will break through and become a top 10-caliber program. Winning the ACC was not a bad consolation prize though.

    However, they had the beating of a lifetime and have an awful taste in their mouths after getting obliterated by West Virginia on national television (Orange Bowl) 70-33.

    While these programs have bright futures (Clemson could leave the ACC, just rumors and speculation), the competition is not a cake walk and they will need a tad of luck to appear in a BCS bowl and/or contend for a national title.

11. Nebraska: Nebraska

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    Without any NFL teams in the state of Nebraska, the Huskers grab a high ranking on this list due to it being a clear college football state (and the program isn't too shabby either, duh).

    The Blackshirts defense is well-known around the nation, but they need to get back at owning the opponents’ offenses from the Big Ten.

    They came so close on two separate occasions of winning the Big 12, and now the chances will be there to win the Big Ten.

    Bo Pelini has talented players, but this season could go a far way in showing if the Huskers will ever return to national prominence.  

10. Georgia: Georgia, Georgia Tech

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    The Bulldogs have been to the BCS and dominated the competition before, but they are still waiting for their grand moment in which they take the landscape of college football for a nice, enjoyable ride.

    The Yellow Jackets made an appearance in the BCS, but they were exposed a tad by the Iowa Hawkeyes (2010 Orange Bowl).

    Paul Johnson has made them serious threats in the ACC, so there should not be too many complaints from the Atlanta faithful.

9. Louisiana: LSU, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Monroe

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    Not many states can say they love football as much as the state of Louisiana does. The Bayou Bengals get the entire state rocking and rolling, no matter what time the game is.

    Night games are legendary against SEC opponents, but the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech are slowly picking up steam despite it being a state full of Tigers.

    The Warhawks have avoided the bottom of the Sun Belt, but Louisiana-Lafayette has the talented players to compete with nearly any non-BCS squad.

8. Indiana: Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Ball State

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    The Fighting Irish are popular whether they are winning or losing in college football. Some thoroughly enjoy their losing ways while others love nothing more in life than witnessing a run towards the BCS.

    Notre Dame Stadium on Saturdays is heaven with all the traditions and overall history that have come and gone in South Bend.

    While Ball State is looking to make a move in the MAC under Pete Lembo, the same can be said for the Hoosiers of Indiana.

    Purdue is clearly on the upward move with Danny Hope, but this state will always belong to the Golden Domers.

7. Oklahoma: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa

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    The Sooner State may only have a few programs, but they are all consistent, with obviously the Sooners owning nearly all of the publicity.

    Oklahoma State wants some respect, and the Cowboys certainly alerted every team in the country after they absolutely throttled Oklahoma 44-10 last season.

    Mike Gundy has instilled one hell of a spread offense, and we know Bob Stoops and his Sooners will not be going away anytime soon.

    Throw in a solid Tulsa program, and this state has a bit to offer despite the lack of several teams. 

6. Ohio State, Cincinnati, Akron, B.G., Kent St, Miami, Ohio, Toledo

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    These eight teams are the second most among any state in the country for FBS squads.

    The Buckeye State has six squads from the MAC, but the state is clearly known for those popular Buckeyes.

    Brutus and the gang have been among the more consistent squads in the entire country during the tenure of Jim Tressel (2001-2010), but Ohio State of course has since moved on with Urban Meyer.

    The possibilities could be endless if Meyer gets off to a solid start in Columbus, but it will be intriguing either way.

    Cincinnati is a consistent squad that is threatening to appear in its third BCS bowl, and many believe Butch Jones is primed to do it sooner rather than later.

5. Michigan: Michigan, Michigan State, Central, Eastern, Western Michigan

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    Three MAC teams are quite a bit, but the Maize and Blue still own this state. Well, at least from a popularity standpoint they surely do.

    In terms of recent on the field performance, it is a no-brainer since Sparty has defeated the Wolverines in four consecutive seasons.

    The Wolverines did appear in a BCS bowl in Brady Hoke's first season, which certainly gives the faithful in Ann Arbor a ton of confidence.

    MSU is waiting for some luck so they too can play in the BCS before the contract expires in two full seasons (2014-2015).

4. California: Fresno State, San Diego State, California, Stanford, UCLA, USC

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    The Golden State has seven programs that are fairly relevant, albeit arguably nobody takes the attention of college football outside of SEC country more than the USC Trojans.

    USC is the favorite to be ranked atop the polls come August, but Stanford has quietly been a national factor with Jim Harbaugh and now David Shaw as their coach.

    Fresno State and San Diego State have had their moments on the non-AQ status line, but San Jose State is still searching for some answers.

    Meanwhile, California and UCLA have seen success during the BCS era, but the Bears have fallen short a few times of reaching a BCS bowl.

    The Bruins hope Jim Mora Jr. can get them back to a BCS bowl for the first time since the 1999 Rose Bowl, when they appeared on national television.

    This is still the state that belongs to the Trojans ,and they can really put this state among the elites if they were to contend for a BCS National Championship.

3. Texas: Baylor, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Houston, Rice, SMU, UTEP, Texas A&M

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    The Lone Star State is arguably the best state in America for college football, but at the moment they are lacking some of that star power we saw Vince Young and Colt McCoy show off.

    Those Longhorns own the state, but they have gone just 13-12 in the last two seasons. This a monster of a season for Mack Brown and his crew since they have so much talent returning (17).

    Texas is still a prestigious program and a return to the BCS and or upper-tier bowl will help them out a whole lot.

    Robert Griffin III and Baylor stole the show last season as they nearly snuck into the BCS, but TCU is arguably the king of the state for the moment.

    Coming off a Rose Bowl victory two seasons ago, TCU has ponied up and come over to the Big 12 to compete with big boys. Gary Patterson has been labeled as the best coach in America, but the guy really can do it all.

    The defensive speed he brings in to go along with his offensive speedsters makes the Horned Frogs a serious threat in the Big 12 for the immediate and distant future.

    The Houston Cougars nearly ran the table and appeared in a BCS bowl last season. Now with Kevin Sumlin and record-setting quarterback Case Keenum both gone, it may be tough to compete with the likes of Texas and TCU.

    Texas Tech is due to return to the postseason whereas the likes of North Texas, Rice and UTEP are just trying to avoid the basement of C-USA.

    Texas A&M might just be the most intriguing storyline of any team in this state with its move to the SEC. To makes matters worse they are headed to the SEC West, which in iitelf is arguably the best conference in college football.

    Texas State and UTSA are the new kids on the block for FBS teams, but the expectations should not be too drastic early on.

    Last but certainly not least would be the SMU Mustangs, who are legit to contend for a BCS dark horse spot under June Jones. They have the BCS opponents (Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU) to see their names ranked in the top 25 at some point during the season.

    Even if they were to lose two of those three, they have an excellent chance to run the table and win the C-USA this season.

    Overall, Texas ranks as high as it gets among any state in America, and if a team can step up and become a national contender then we may just see the Longhorn State atop this list at some point during next offseason.


2. Florida: Florida State, Miami FL, South Florida, UCF, Florida, FAU, FIU

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    The beautiful state of Florida has had its shining moments whether it be the Gators, Hurricanes or Seminoles.

    They have all won a BCS title before, and they are hopeful in eventually getting back into the conversation of competing for another title.

    Florida State has the talent to do so right away whereas Florida and look right there (the Canes are little further away, obviously).

    Central Florida was among the best stories in college football two seasons ago, and USF has had its moments in the past, but we know the Bulls also have had their fair share of utter disappointments.

    The rest of the gang has been relevant in their own conferences but have yet to make a name for themselves on the national scheme of things.

    High school football in Florida is ridiculous though, and they bring in the speed freaks like it is nobody’s business. It translates to the next level in college, and we often see it translated into immediate success on Sundays.

    Assuming the Seminoles can finally grab hold of a berth in the BCS, this state should be well-represented in 2012.

1. Alabama: Alabama, Auburn, UAB, South Alabama, Troy

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    There are only five teams in the state known as the "largest supplier of cast-iron and steel pipe products."

    However, when you have three of the past BCS National Championships in your own state, you own the landscape of college football.

    Alabama and Auburn give us one of the best, elite and most entertaining games all season long.

    It speaks volumes to have NFL stars, but they even possess the stud college players who love nothing more than putting on the pads every fall Saturday.

    If Oregon, Texas or LSU would have dethroned the Tigers or Crimson Tide, then perhaps I would drop this state out of the top spot, but for now it remains as the king of college football.

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