Ranking Every State by Their College Football Teams

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJune 1, 2017

Ranking Every State by Their College Football Teams

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    We promise the power of Mike Gundy's mullet had nothing to do with Oklahoma's ranking.
    We promise the power of Mike Gundy's mullet had nothing to do with Oklahoma's ranking.Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Though Oklahoma has not produced a national champion since 2000, the Sooner State sits at No. 1 on our list of college football's best states entering the 2017 season.

    Here's the fictional premise we used to rank the states: A new law has been put into place that mandates you watch every game involving a FBS team from the state in which you live. However, this law also prohibits you from watching any games that don't include a team from your state. As a result, you want to move to a state where you can watch as much quality college football as possible, but without needing to see too many bad games.

    Using win-loss records and bowl appearances over the past four seasons as a mathematical guide, what follows is the hierarchical ranking of the 41 states with FBS programs. (Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont are the nine states without a FBS program, in case that information comes up on trivia night.)

    If you're the type to just soak up college football no matter how good or bad it is, Texas (12 schools), Ohio (eight), North Carolina (seven), California (seven) and Florida (seven) are the obvious choices for you. With several not-great programs in each of those states, though, not one of them ranks in our top 15.

No. 41 Connecticut-No. 37 New York

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    Connecticut scored the worst among states with FBS programs.
    Connecticut scored the worst among states with FBS programs.Bill Sikes/Associated Press

    41. Connecticut

    The Huskies made it to a bowl game in 2015, but they won 28.6 percent of their games over the past four seasons. Though this is one of the only New England states that has an FBS program, no one in their right mind is moving to Connecticut to watch college football.

               

    40. New Jersey

    Rutgers fared well in its first year in the Big Ten, but it has all been downhill since then. The Scarlet Knights went 0-9 in conference play last year and failed to score a single point in four of those games. They are also your only option for FBS action in the Garden State.

                

    39. Massachusetts

    Were it just Boston College, this state would have ranked at least eight spots better. However, Massachusetts is 10-50 since transitioning to FBS in 2012, putting quite the damper on BC's three 7-6 seasons in the past four years.

               

    38. Hawaii

    Though Hawaii won seven games last seasonincluding its first bowl win since 2006it went 8-30 the previous three years. This program was a lot of fun to watch during the Colt Brennan era in the mid-2000s, but don't bank on any Mountain West titles any time soon.

                 

    37. New York

    The worst state with more than two schools, New York's three teams (Army, Buffalo and Syracuse) have combined to appear in just one bowl game in the past three years. Buffalo's 20-28 record since 2013 is the best of the trio, and the Bulls went 2-10 last year.

No. 36 Nevada-No. 32 Indiana

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    Josh Allen might be the No. 1 pick in 2018, but that doesn't make Wyoming a top state for college football.
    Josh Allen might be the No. 1 pick in 2018, but that doesn't make Wyoming a top state for college football.Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    36. Nevada

    Neither Nevada nor UNLV has had an eight-win season in the past four years, but they have avoided disastrous seasons just well enough to keep their state out of the bottom five. Even if you love Mountain West football, though, there are much better options.

                

    35. New Mexico

    The New Mexico Lobos have gotten better each of the past three seasons, starting at 3-9 in 2013 before working their way up to a 9-4 record last year. New Mexico State, on the other hand, hasn't shown any signs of life in many moons. The Aggies have lost at least nine games in 10 consecutive seasons. The Lobos are improving but not fast enough to carry that dead weight.

            

    34. Kansas

    While the "State" school is the one dragging New Mexico down, it is the one trying to keep Kansas afloat. KSU is one of 32 programs that has been to a bowl game in each of the past four seasons, compiling an overall winning percentage of 61.5 during that time. But with nine wins in 2016, the Wildcats scored more victories last season than the Jayhawks have had in the past four seasons combined. They are at the opposite end of the bowl spectrum as one of the 12 programs that has missed out on four consecutive postseasons.

              

    33. Wyoming

    The Cowboys are 19-31 over the past four years, but they went 8-6 this past season with wins over Boise State and San Diego State. And if you like watching college football for NFL draft purposes, Wyoming might be your best option of all, as QB Josh Allen could be the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.

                

    32. Indiana

    Thanks to a rare 4-8 season from Notre Dame, all four schools in Indiana finished below .500 in 2016. Neither Purdue nor Indiana has finished .500 or better in the past four years, and Ball State hasn't done so since 2013. Though Notre Dame was 27-12 in the three seasons before last year's debacle, the overall state of college football in Indiana isn't great.

No. 31 Iowa-No. 26 Arizona

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    LSU wasn't enough to carry Louisiana into the top 20
    LSU wasn't enough to carry Louisiana into the top 20David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    31. Iowa

    Iowa has been to four consecutive bowl games. Despite losing all four of those games, the Hawkeyes have posted a record above .500 for four straight years. But Iowa State hasn't won more than 25 percent of its games in any of those years, resulting in a lackluster overall score for the state.

               

    30. Oregon

    Two years ago, Oregon probably would have finished top five in this formula. But with both the Ducks and Beavers going 4-8 last year and posting a combined winning percentage of 38.8 in 2015 and 2016, things aren't looking so great in the Pacific Northwest.

               

    29. Virginia

    Though the Virginia Cavaliers have been bad for a while, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion have done a lot to keep football interesting in the state. The two schools went a combined 20-7 last year, which helped balance out UVA's 2-10 season. Still, Virginia's three teams have a combined record of 66-72 for the last four years.

             

    28. Texas

    The good news is you would get to watch a lot of college football in Texas; unfortunately, a lot of it is bad college football. Not a single one of the 12 schools in the Lone Star state won 10 games last season. Baylor, Houston and Texas A&M have each been to four straight bowl games, but that does little to make up for SMU, Texas State, UTEP and UTSA combining for two out of a possible 16 bowl appearances during that same window. There's simply too much average-to-below-average fodder.

             

    27. Louisiana

    LSU and Louisiana Tech are trying to carry this state, but Tulane, Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette haven't offered much help. The net result is that Louisiana has posted a 127-125 record over the past four years and has not had an individual 10-win season since LSU went 10-3 in 2013. 

                 

    26. Arizona

    Though Arizona and Arizona State struggled last year, they had both appeared in a bowl game in each of the previous three seasons and have each won at least 50 percent of their total games over the last four years. 2014 was the big year; both the Wildcats and the Sun Devils won 10 games and finished in the top 20 of the AP poll.

No. 25 Missouri-No. 21 Ohio State

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    Though the Buckeyes are an annual contender for the national championship, Ohio has too many mediocre MAC teams hurting its score.
    Though the Buckeyes are an annual contender for the national championship, Ohio has too many mediocre MAC teams hurting its score.Al Goldis/Associated Press

    25. Missouri

    In 2013 and 2014, Missouri went a combined 23-5. Over the past two seasons, though, the Tigers went 9-15 and failed to qualify for a bowl game. The only FBS program in the Show Me State needs to show us a bit more in the immediate future before we could condone moving there to watch college football.

              

    24. Illinois

    The three Illinois schools (Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Illinois) barely won 40 percent of their games last season. The state's overall score got a shot in the arm from Northern Illinois winning 31 games and appearing in three straight bowls from 2013-15. However, four straight sub-.500 seasons from the Fighting Illini doomed the state to a spot outside the top 20.

                

    23. Georgia

    In Georgia, we see most vividly the negative impact that one program can have on an entire state's score. Georgia State went 1-23 from 2013-14 and has not gone .500 in a season since joining the FBS ranks. This bogged down otherwise solid scores from Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern. Among the schools from states that finished in the top 30, Georgia State posted the worst score.

               

    22. North Carolina

    One of the best of the honorable mentions, North Carolina has had either three or four of its six programs appear in a bowl game in each of the past four years. Five of those six schools played in multiple bowls. Led by UNC and Appalachian State, they're a combined 25 games above .500 since 2013. But, without any title contenders in the mix, the Tar Heel State falls just outside the top 20.

               

    21. Ohio

    If you can't possibly get enough #MACtion in your life, this is the state for you. For the rest of us, Ohio has little to offer aside from the Buckeyes. Ohio State is 49-6 over the past four years, but the rest of the Buckeye State has a combined record 10 games below .500 during that time. In particular, Kent State and Miami (OH) hurt Ohio's score. Even with the Redbirds winning six consecutive games to close out the 2016 regular season, neither MAC school has finished .500 or better since before 2013.

20. Idaho

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    Boise State's top-10 score was just enough to carry Idaho into the top 20.
    Boise State's top-10 score was just enough to carry Idaho into the top 20.Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 2 (Boise State, Idaho)

    2016 Record: 19-7

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 62.5

    Dating back to 2000, the Idaho Vandals have won two or fewer games in more than 50 percent of seasons, including going a combined 2-21 in 2013-14. But in 2016, they won nine games for the first time since 1998.

    Saving that best season for the one that is most heavily weighted in our formula was crucial. The Vandals are still well below the national average with a score that ranked them 94th, but they did just enough to let Boise State's consistent success shine through for a top-20 state ranking.

    In each of the last 15 years, the Broncos have spent at least one week ranked in the AP Top 20. The past four seasons have actually been their worst four-year stretch since 1998-2001, but they still finished with the ninth-best score in the country. Had we done this exercise six years ago, Boise State likely would have ranked No. 1.

19. Florida

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    Florida State is the cream of Florida's seven-school crop.
    Florida State is the cream of Florida's seven-school crop.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 7 (Florida State, Florida, Miami, South Florida, UCF, Florida International and Florida Atlantic)

    2016 Record: 52-37

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 57.1

    To earn a spot in the top 10, the ideal ratio is at least two perennial contenders for every annual bottom-feeder.

    The Sunshine State has three great contenders in FSU, Florida and Miami. In particular, the Seminoles shine through as one of just four teams in the country with at least 10 wins in each of the past four yearsjoining Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State.

    Both Florida State and Miami have appeared in bowl games in four straight years. Florida and UCF are each batting .750 in the bowls department. And though South Florida's overall winning percentage since 2013 is nothing special, the Bulls have improved by at least two wins per year for three straight years, finishing 2016 with the best record in the state.

    Unfortunately, if you're watching every FBS game in Florida, it also means a lot of Florida International and Florida Atlantic, who have combined for zero bowl games in eight tries. There are only 12 schools in the country that have not played in a bowl game since 2013, and it's incredible Florida was able to sneak into the top 20 despite having two of them.

    If we could simply remove those C-USA teams from the equation, Florida would have placed No. 3. So if you don't mind spending about 30 percent of your time watching bad football, there are some strong headliners in this state.

18. California

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    Can Stanford continue to shoulder the load for California without Christian McCaffrey?
    Can Stanford continue to shoulder the load for California without Christian McCaffrey?Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 7 (Stanford, San Diego State, USC, UCLA, California, San Jose State and Fresno State)

    2016 Record: 45-43

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 67.9

    Similar to Florida on the previous slide, California has a few outstanding viewing options. San Diego State, Stanford and USC have each finished the past four seasons above .500, and last year was the first time since 2012 that UCLA failed to win at least eight games.

    Focus solely on those four schools and this state finishes at No. 1—and that's without accounting for the projections that USC is headed for its best season in nearly a decade.

    But we're not allowed to just watch those four teams.

    There's also San Jose State, which hasn't finished above .500 since joining the Mountain West Conference in 2013. And there's MWC rival Fresno State, which is improving about as well as Benjamin Button ages. The Bulldogs have watched their win total shrink from 11 to six, three and one over the past four years. The Golden Bears of California aren't much better with an overall winning percentage of 38.8 during that time.

    The net result is a state that might win a national championship, but it also might have more than 50 percent of schools watching bowl season from home. That's not a great ratio for this exercise.

17. Mississippi

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    Can Nick Fitzgerald bring the state of Mississippi back from a sub-.500 season?
    Can Nick Fitzgerald bring the state of Mississippi back from a sub-.500 season?Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss)

    2016 Record: 18-20

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 75.0

    The only state in the top 20 to post a sub-.500 record last season, things usually go better in Mississippi. In fact, in 2015, all three schools won at least nine games. And both Ole Miss and Mississippi State entered 2016 with a streak of at least four consecutive winning seasons.

    If all three schools had repeated in 2016 what they did in 2015, Mississippi would have ranked in the top five. Instead, they each took a sizable step backward, leaving question marks about whether this is the place to invest in college football real estate.

    The good news is that all three schools have exciting offensive weapons to behold. Both SEC programs have dual-threat quarterbacks, as Shea Patterson should become a star for Ole Miss, while Nick Fitzgerald seeks to build on a 3,800-yard, 37-touchdown sophomore year at Miss State.

    Meanwhile, Southern Miss has more of a Christian McCaffrey dual threat in its backfield, with Ito Smith amassing roughly 2,500 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards over the last two seasons.

    If you prefer to watch defensive struggles, stay far away from this state. All three schools gave up at least 29.5 points per game in 2016—hence the combined losing record.

16. Michigan

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    Four of Michigan's five programs have been assets over the past four years.
    Four of Michigan's five programs have been assets over the past four years.Andrew Medichini/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 5 (Michigan, Western Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan)

    2016 Record: 39-26

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 65.0

    Though not a single one of Michigan's schools has been to a bowl game in all four of the most recent seasons, four of the five teams have participated in three bowls.

    Both Western Michigan and Central Michigan enter the 2017 season on three-year bowling streaks. The Michigan Wolverines have gotten there the past two years with 10-win seasons. And despite a 3-9 record in 2016, Michigan State has the most wins of the bunch after winning at least 11 games in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Those four programs have gone a combined 127-80 over the past four years.

    And then there's Eastern Michigan.

    Though the 2016 Eagles did finally finish above .500 for the first time since 1996, they went 12-37 over the last four years. No other school from a state in our top 20 won fewer than 14 games during that time, resulting in an individual score that decimated Michigan's average.

    On the whole, though, one could do a lot worse than Michigan. If you consider these viewing options as starting pitchers in a baseball rotation, this state has four hurlers who will usually give you six quality innings and one wild card most likely headed for more losses than wins. You might not win the World Series, but you can at least make the playoffs with that type of rotation.

15. Colorado

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    After a decade of futility, can Colorado build on last year's 10-4 record?
    After a decade of futility, can Colorado build on last year's 10-4 record?Eric Gay/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Air Force, Colorado State, Colorado)

    2016 Record: 27-13

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 66.7

    For most of the 2000s and 2010s, Colorado wasn't much of a destination for college football. From 2004-15, Colorado, Colorado State and Air Force spent a combined total of just eight weeks in the AP Top 25; never quite cracking into the top 20. In five of those 12 seasons, they combined to finish at least 10 games under .500. They only twice went .500 or better, maxing out at six games over .500 in 2014.

    Suffice it to say, finishing 14 games over .500 last year was a pleasant surprise, and it was fueled by the Buffaloes winning the Pac-12 South. In going 10-4, Colorado posted a winning record for the first time since 2005. And with a projected nine returning starters on offense, it might have enough firepower for another solid year.

    Though Air Force had the best 2016 season with a 10-3 record and has been to nine bowls in the past 10 years, the consistent source of Colorado's success for the past four seasons has been Colorado State.

    Despite a coaching change following the 2014 season and a permanent kryptonite known as Boise State, the Rams have gone to bowl games in four consecutive years. Moreover, as far as SB Nation's Bill Connelly is concerned, they're the favorites to win the Mountain West Conference this year.

14. Arkansas

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    Arkansas State has had a strong run in the Sun Belt.
    Arkansas State has had a strong run in the Sun Belt.Butch Dill/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 2 (Arkansas State, Arkansas)

    2016 Record: 15-11

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 87.5

    From this point forward, just about every school on the list has been to multiple bowl games in the last four years. That includes both Arkansas and Arkansas State, which have combined for seven out of eight possible appearances—despite not having a single 10-win season between them.

    Though Arkansas State has yet to be recognized by the AP voters at any point in the past 27 years, the Red Wolves have been the more successful of the two schools as of late. They have taken care of business in the Sun Belt Conference with a combined conference record of 40-7 since 2011. As a result, they have accounted for six of the Sun Belt's last 22 bowl invites.

    If the two programs ever faced each other, though, there's little question who would win. ASU has the better record over the past several years, but it also has the friendlier schedule on an annual basis.

    The Razorbacks are doing what they can to tread water in the SEC West, finishing with a winning record in each of the past three years. And if they could do anything to stop opposing rushing attacks, they'd have an even better record. Arkansas gave up at least 365 rushing yards on three separate occasions last year.

13. Maryland

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    Navy's triple option makes Maryland a strong option for watching college football
    Navy's triple option makes Maryland a strong option for watching college footballJim Cowsert/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 2 (Navy, Maryland)

    2016 Record: 15-12

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 87.5

    As we learned from the 2005 film Wedding Crashers: "Crab cakes and football. That's what Maryland does."

    The crab cakes are always good, and as of late, the college football has been solid, too.

    Despite a sub-.500 record since 2013, the Terrapins have been invited to bowl games in three of the past four years. Sure, they lost all three of those games, but just getting there was a nice change of pace after enduring a pair of 2-10 seasons in 2009 and 2011.

    It's Navy that is putting Maryland on this map, though. The Midshipmen have won at least eight games in 13 of the past 14 seasons, including a school record 11 wins in 2015.

    Their offense has been built upon the triple option for decades, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? From 1980-2014, Navy spent precisely one week in the AP Top 25. In the past two seasons, it has been in the polls for a combined total of 10 weeks.

12. West Virginia

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    The Mountaineers are seeking a fourth consecutive bowl game.
    The Mountaineers are seeking a fourth consecutive bowl game.Ray Thompson/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 2 (West Virginia, Marshall)

    2016 Record: 13-12

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 75.0

    In the past two decades, Marshall has had eight seasons with at least nine wins. West Virginia has had nine such seasons. As a result, the two schools have had a combined winning record in 19 of the last 20 years.

    But they're rarely good at the same time, and that trend continued in 2016 with Marshall's 3-9 record mitigating the positive impact of West Virginia's 10-3 gem.

    For the Thundering Herd, it was a wholly unexpected fall from grace. After three consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins, they evidently forgot how to play defense, allowing 35.2 points per game after ceding just 17.8 points on average the previous year. With 15 projected returning starters, though, they should get back to their winning ways in 2017.

    Based on the last 20 years, it should come as no surprise that Marshall's improvement will likely coincide with a decline for West Virginia. The Mountaineers lost 14 of 22 starters from last season and might be lucky to finish ahead of any Big 12 teams not named Kansas.

    It is nice to know that one of the two teams will be good each year, though. In 11 of the past 12 seasons, either Marshall or West Virginia finished at least five games above .500.

11. Minnesota

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    There's only one FBS program in Minnesota, but at least it gets to a lot of bowl games.
    There's only one FBS program in Minnesota, but at least it gets to a lot of bowl games.Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 1 (Minnesota)

    2016 Record: 9-4

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 100.0

    You wouldn't get to watch much college football in Minnesota, but the good news is you would likely be watching a team bound for postseason play, as the Golden Gophers have been to five consecutive bowl games as well as 14 in the past 18 years.

    The better news is you get to see one of the most exciting, young coaches in the sport in action. New Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck is going to immediately infuse this program with offense that will look revolutionary compared to what it had been running under Jerry Kill and Tracy Claeys.

    Will he be the catalyst Minnesota needs to finally become a national contender?

    Though the Golden Gophers usually make it to the postseason, they have won 10 or more games in a season just once in the past 111 years—that's not a typo. They went 10-3 in 2003, and it was their only double-digit win total since 1905. But, if Fleck could turn Western Michigan into a Group of Five powerhouse, perhaps he can work some magic in Minnesota.

10. Nebraska

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    It's a far cry from mid-1990s Cornhusker football, but Nebraska has been solid in recent years.
    It's a far cry from mid-1990s Cornhusker football, but Nebraska has been solid in recent years.Nati Harnik/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 1 (Nebraska)

    2016 Record: 9-4

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 100.0

    Like the Golden Gophers in Minnesota, the Cornhuskers are the only show in the state of Nebraska, but the locals are almost always treated to a bowl game.

    Things aren't nearly as grand as they used to be, though. From 1969-1997, Nebraska went 29 consecutive years without suffering more than three losses in a season. Nowadays, you need to go back to 2003 in order to find the last time the Cornhuskers lost fewer than four games in a season.

    (Considering they're losing 12 starters from last year, we're not exactly expecting an undefeated record in 2017, either.)

    But there are maybe three programs in the nation that can even pretend to hold a candle to Nebraska's heyday. Compared to a current, average power conference program, Nebraska's doing quite well with at least nine wins in eight of the past nine seasons. At any rate, this is clearly one of the best one-school states.

9. Tennessee

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    Among the 11 schools with at least four FBS programs, Tennessee ranks second.
    Among the 11 schools with at least four FBS programs, Tennessee ranks second.Wade Payne/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 4 (Tennessee, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt)

    2016 Record: 31-21

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 68.8

    As a whole, Tennessee has been improving year over year. After going 25-25 in 2013, the Volunteer State's winning percentage climbed up to 52.0, 56.9 and 59.6.

    This growth was most apparent in the state's most prominent program. Tennessee opened the decade with four consecutive sub-.500 seasons, but the Volunteers went 9-4 each of the past two years and were arguably the most entertaining team in the country for the first half of last season. (Whether they can maintain those winning ways after losing Joshua Dobbs, Derek Barnett, Alvin Kamara and Josh Malone remains to be seen.)

    Memphis and Tennessee had near-identical scores thanks to bowl appearances in each of the past three years, but Middle Tennessee has been the state's slightly-above-average staple. The Blue Raiders have finished .500 or better in each of the past four years, though they did so without winning more than eight games in any season. Regardless of the number of wins, watching the Brent Stockstill-Richie James connection will be worth the price of admission every time.

    Even Tennessee's basement dweller isn't terrible, as Vanderbilt has been to two bowl games in the past four years with a combined record just six games below .500.

    Because you would get to watch four teams with a reasonable expectation that all four will be competitive, we had to find a spot for Tennessee in the top 10.

8. Alabama

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    The Crimson Tide had the highest individual score, but it wasn't quite enough to get Alabama to No. 1.
    The Crimson Tide had the highest individual score, but it wasn't quite enough to get Alabama to No. 1.John Bazemore/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 5 (Alabama, Auburn, Troy, South Alabama, UAB*)

    2016 Record: 38-16

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 68.8

    Because of UAB's return to football, Alabama was the biggest dilemma in this exercise.

    If we include UAB's score from the 2013 and 2014 seasons, it's basically a landmine that knocks Alabama's average down to No. 20. If we completely disregard the Blazers, however, Alabama would be No. 3. Neither of those options felt right, so we somewhat arbitrarily put Alabama at No. 8.

    The Crimson Tide have won four of the last eight national championships and appeared in a fifth. In one of the three years that they failed to reach the title game, state rival Auburn got there in their place. Both of those SEC schools have appeared in four consecutive bowl games and have spent at least one week of each of the last four seasons ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.

    There's simply no way to justify leaving Alabama out of the top 10 on this list when two of its four-and-a-half schools have done that much.

    Yet, it isn't all green grass and high tides for the state, as Troy and South Alabama have a combined record of 46-53 since 2013, making it equally impossible to rationalize putting Alabama in our top five.

    We'll just leave it at this: If you're willing to endure up to 36 bad games per year for the chance to watch an entire regular season of a team likely to reach the College Football Playoff, Alabama is the place to be.

7. Kentucky

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    The chance to watch a Heisman winner is a big selling point in Kentucky.
    The chance to watch a Heisman winner is a big selling point in Kentucky.John Raoux/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Western Kentucky, Louisville, Kentucky)

    2016 Record: 27-13

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 66.7

    Of the 21 schools represented in the top eight states, Kentucky was home to two of the seven highest scores.

    One of those programs is Western Kentucky, which has won at least eight games in each of the past four yearsthough, it wasn't invited to a bowl game in 2013 for some bizarre reason. The Hilltoppers have been particularly strong the past two seasons, compiling a 23-5 record. And even though they lost a ton of starters and a head coach from last year, they should still be a force in Conference USA with quarterback Mike White leading the way.

    The other program is Louisville, which was winning a lot of games long before Lamar Jackson became a staple in the weekly highlight reels. The Cardinals have been to seven straight bowl games, including a 12-1 record in 2013. With Jackson back for another year, there's no good reason to expect that streak to end in 2017.

    But Kentucky is also home to the worst score among the remaining programs, as the Wildcats haven't won more than seven games in a season since 2007 and haven't won more than eight games since 1984. They did finally get back to a bowl game this past season, but at this point on the list, we're not interested in watching a team that might sneak into the postseason once every four years.

6. Utah

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    Utah takes the cake among the states in the Mountain time zone.
    Utah takes the cake among the states in the Mountain time zone.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Utah, BYU, Utah State)

    2016 Record: 21-17

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 83.3

    Similar to Kentucky, Utah has two good schools to watch and one less appealing option.

    BYU is the cream of the crop with 12 straight bowl games and at least eight wins in six consecutive years. Moreover, as an independent program, the Cougars do their damage against a wide range of competition. Last year, they faced opponents from four of the five power conferences, giving the viewers in Utah a chance to see teams from all over the country. That wasn't factored into their score, but it's a nice perk to consider.

    The Utah Utes have also been solid lately, winning at least nine games in each of the past three seasons. They slipped into a bit of a nadir after transitioning from the Mountain West to the Pac-12, but it didn't take long for them to become a legitimate contender in a power conference. They have been ranked in the final AP Top 25 in three straight years.

    But, after a brief surge to the top of the Mountain West standings, it has been a trying couple of years for Utah State. The Aggies won 10 games in 2014 before going 9-16 the past two seasons. Maybe they'll bounce back a bit this year, but they'reat least temporarilythe reason Utah isn't a top-five state for CFB purposes.

5. Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin only has one FBS program, but it's a consistently strong one.
    Wisconsin only has one FBS program, but it's a consistently strong one.Tony Ding/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 1 (Wisconsin)

    2016 Record: 11-3

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 100.0

    No other one-school state came anywhere close to matching Wisconsin.

    Though the Badgers have suffered at least three losses in each of the past four seasons, they posted the sixth-highest score of any school, trailing only Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma. That's because they are one of just five schools that has not suffered more than four losses in a season in the past four years.

    The moral of the story is that while Wisconsin isn't perfect, you can count on one hand how many programs have been consistently better as of late. Considering the Badgers had coaching changes after both the 2012 and 2014 seasons, that's incredible.

    However, similar to Alabama's placement at No. 8 despite a score that belonged at either No. 3 or No. 20, it was arbitrarily decided that no one-school state is allowed to rank higher than No. 5.

    With no other program to weigh it down, Wisconsin would have been No. 1 with room to spare, but there would just be something wrong with declaring that the best state for college football is one with only one team to watch.

4. Washington

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    Chris Petersen steered Washington to the CFP semifinals last year.
    Chris Petersen steered Washington to the CFP semifinals last year.David Goldman/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 2 (Washington, Washington State)

    2016 Record: 20-7

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 87.5

    Between head coaches Chris Petersen and Mike Leach, the offensive entertainment level in the state of Washington is second to none. The former is an X's and O's mastermind, while the latter has proved for more than a decade that he's more than happy to let his quarterback throw the ball until his arm falls off.

    And it's working for both programs.

    The Washington Huskies won 12 games in 2016, reached the College Football Playoff and are among the favorites to get there again this year. Jake Browning blossomed into a star at quarterback, while wide receiver and kick returner John Ross became the program's third top-10 draft pick since 1993, joining Jake Locker and Reggie Williams.

    Meanwhile, the Cougars are in the middle of one of their best runs in program history. They have some work to do to catch the back-to-back-to-back 10-win seasons from 2001-03, but 2015-16 marks just the second time the Cougars have strung together consecutive bowl appearances.

    With Luke Falk throwing for upward of 5,000 yards, look for Washington State to make it three winning seasons in a row.

3. Pennsylvania

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    All three Pennsylvania schools have played in back-to-back bowl games.
    All three Pennsylvania schools have played in back-to-back bowl games.Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Penn State, Temple, Pittsburgh)

    2016 Record: 29-12

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 75.0

    Pennsylvania's bowl percentage isn't quite representative of its win total.

    Penn State went 7-5 in 2013, but it was ineligible to appear in a bowl game. The following year, Temple went 6-6, but it was not selected for a bowl game.

    There aren't any technicalities to mention about Temple's 2-10 record in 2013, but that was the only time in the past four years that a Pennsylvania program posted a sub-.500 record.

    The past two seasons have been particularly strong for the Keystone State. The Nittany Lions, Panthers and Owls all reached the postseason in both 2015 and 2016, finishing a combined 27 games above .500.

    Though none of the PA schools had a score that ranked in the top 25, all three finished in the top 55 for a strong combined average. And while we didn't need to apply any sort of tie-breaker to get Pennsylvania into the top five, the opportunity to watch the Nittany Lions vie for the 2017 national championship would figure prominently into the final decision on where to live.

2. South Carolina

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    There's a reason Clemson vs. South Carolina is one of the better nonconference rivalries.
    There's a reason Clemson vs. South Carolina is one of the better nonconference rivalries.Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Clemson, South Carolina, Coastal Carolina*)

    2016 Record: 20-8

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 87.5

    As with Alabama, figuring out where to put South Carolina was tricky, due to the addition of a new FBS program. But there's a big difference between UAB and Coastal Carolina. The former wasn't ever particularly good, appearing in just one bowl game in 19 seasons before having its football program temporarily disbanded. The latter went 43-10 in FCS play over the past four years and might immediately compete in the Sun Belt Conference.

    For now, we'll give the Chanticleers the benefit of the doubt and simply judge South Carolina based on the two FBS programs we've seen in action over the past several years.

    It should come as no surprise that Clemson had the second-highest score among all schools, finishing slightly behind Alabama. The Tigers have averaged 12.3 wins per year since 2013, including 14 victories in each of the past two seasons. That's almost as good as it gets, and it should continue for the foreseeable future, as Clemson is one of the top candidates to reach this year's College Football Playoff.

    But in-state rival South Carolina did Clemson no favors in these rankings, keeping the Palmetto State out of the top spot by the slimmest of margins.

    The good news is the Gamecocks have been to bowl games in three of the past four seasons. The bad news is the best of those seasons came back in 2013, as they have put together a record six games below .500 over the last three years.

    And until they can at least finish .500 in SEC play again, we're unable to proclaim South Carolina as the best state for college football.

    Rather, that title belongs to...

1. Oklahoma

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    Hard to go wrong with a pair of title contenders in the Sooner State.
    Hard to go wrong with a pair of title contenders in the Sooner State.Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    FBS Programs: 3 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa)

    2016 Record: 31-8

    Bowl Percentage Last 4 Years: 83.3

    With three schools that each won at least 10 games last season, Oklahoma is where it's at.

    Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have each competed in a bowl game every year since 2006. Both schools won at least 10 games in 2013, 2015 and 2016, as the Bedlam Series has become something of an unofficial tiebreaker atop the Big 12 standings. The Sooners and Cowboys will likely both open the 2017 season ranked in the top 10 as co-favorites to win the conference.

    While those two schools have been consistently strong, Tulsa is finally getting back on the right track. The Golden Hurricane had a couple of disastrous years in 2013 and 2014, but they have improved their win total by four games in each of the past two seasons, culminating in their fifth 10-win season of the past decade.

    Add it all up and Oklahoma has a lot of great action to behold. With two 2017 national championship contenders and a third team that should finish in the top half of the AAC standings, the Sooner State is the logical choice for a residence if you were only allowed to watch games involving teams in your home state.

                 

    Unless otherwise noted, stats are courtesy of Sports Reference and cfbstats.comRecruiting information courtesy of Scout.com.

    Kerry Miller covers college football and college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.