For several years, 247Sports has put out their ‘College Team Talent’. This is similar to their recruiting rankings except that it looks at the players that are actually on the roster; this includes eliminating recruits that signed but did not show up (for whatever reason) as well as including transfers. For all of the players (including the transfers) it appears that they are using each player’s high school composite rating.
This is obviously not a perfect method for assessing the talent on a team. A guy like Eddie Ulofoshio is still getting rated as a 2-star despite the way he’s been playing. And Jack Westover was a walkon without any rating in high school. And it doesn’t take into account which players are playing and which are redshirting.
Still, it does give a good perspective on how well a team recruits and the level of potential talent on each team. And the teams that have more talent, even if they aren’t playing, will help to improve the play of those that are. Back in 2020 I studied the correlation between ‘College Team Talent’ and winning football games. (You can find that initial Fanpost here. And another Fanpost which used ‘College Team Talent’ to predict Pac-12 win totals in 2020.) What I found back then was that looking at the talent differential between teams can help to identify which team is most likely to win. It isn’t perfect. Upsets happen in college football all the time. But the greater the talent differential, the more likely the team will win. Last year in the Pac-12, the team with the more talent won 73% of the time.
With that in mind, 247Sports just updated their ‘College Team Talent’ ratings for the 2023 season. (You can find the listing here: https://247sports.com/Season/2023-Football/CollegeTeamTalentComposite/) At the top are Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
UW is at #26 with 751.12 points. Last year UW was #20 with 764.32 points. It is a slight drop because last year UW’s score was aided by having two 5-star recruits on the roster (Sam Huard and Sav’ell Smalls). Last year UW had the two 5-stars plus 25 4-stars on the roster. This year they have 27 4-stars on the roster, so the total number of ‘blue chip’ (4/5-star recruits) is the same.
The following table compares all of the teams in the Pac-12. It includes each team’s rank (among all D1 schools), how many 5-stars and 4-stars are on the roster, and the number of points that 247Sports gave to each team.
Pac-12 Team Talent Comparison
|School||2023 Rank||5-Stars||4-Stars||Total||2023 Pts||2022 Pts||Change|
|School||2023 Rank||5-Stars||4-Stars||Total||2023 Pts||2022 Pts||Change|
UW is 4th among teams in the Pac-12. They also have the 3rd-most ‘blue chip’ (5-star and 4-star) recruits on their roster.
USC and Oregon being at the top shouldn’t be a surprise given how well they have been recruiting.
The one team that I was most interested in was Colorado. Last year they were 11th in the Pac-12. With the roster turnover that Coach Prime has done there, they have moved up to #6. And they have as many 5-star recruits as all of the rest of the Pac-12 schools besides Oregon and USC. They now have as many ‘blue chip’ recruits Stanford and Arizona, but still less than California and Utah.
It wasn’t a surprise to see WSU at the bottom. They have historically had trouble attracting top recruits to their school. But the gap between them and the next highest team (Oregon State) seems rather large. Also, to put it in perspective, WSU is lower than SMU, USF, Jackson State, Memphis, and Florida Atlantic. And they are just one spot ahead of UW’s opponent this weekend, Boise State. UW’s second opponent, Tulsa, has more 4-star recruits (5) than WSU.
Included in the table is a total of scholarship players on the roster. This doesn’t appear to be completely accurate since UW has 83 (as far as we know) while this shows 82. But assuming that the numbers are only off by one or two, it is surprising to see Colorado significantly below the maximum. Arizona State being even further below the maximum is surprising, although it likely has to do with the coaching change and the NCAA investigation.
The table also includes the points from last year along with the change between last year and this year. As expected, Colorado had the biggest jump. UW was one of 4 teams to drop; it was enough of a drop to move them from 3rd to 4th in the conference (because there were several teams that were close last year). But they are just barely behind UCLA-and would likely be ahead if not for Dante Moore. Stanford dropping the most shouldn’t be a surprise given they have a new coach and it is difficult to get transfers to replace all of their transfer out. Arizona may be a team to watch since they have been improving the talent there since Fisch took over.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the top 4 teams in the Pac-12 are the ones that are moving to the BigTen next year.
While there are always year-to-year changes for all of the teams, the rankings do not change considerably. (Colorado’s improvement this year is the exception.) With that in mind, where do the new BigTen schools rank compared to the rest of the BigTen? This should give us an idea of where UW will rank next year in the BigTen.
BigTen (2024 teams) College Team Talent Comparison
If you break these into tiers, they break out very similarly to the tiers that Jason Eric Nelson came up with for recruiting rankings. He had Ohio State at the top (Tier 0) then USC, Oregon, Michigan, and Penn State at the next level (Tier 1). There is a significant gap between Ohio State and the teams in Tier 1.
He had UW and Nebraska at the next tier down, then Maryland and Michigan State below that, and then UCLA, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Based on the ‘College Team Talent’, I’d have UW, Nebraska, UCLA, Michigan State, and Wisconsin at the next level (Tier 2). After that there is a large gap, so I’d have Iowa, Maryland, Indiana and Purdue next (Tier 3). And finally, I’d put Northwestern, Minnesota, Rutgers, and Illinois at the bottom (Tier 4).
While UW is ranked below Nebraska and UCLA, UW has more ‘blue chip’ recruits than either. If this holds steady until next year, UW will have the 6th most ‘blue chip’ recruits in the new BigTen.
UW’s 2023 Schedule
Of the teams that UW is scheduled to play this year, 2 are ranked higher (USC and Oregon). UW has more talent than the rest of the teams, although Michigan State is very close.
UW 2023 Schedule
UW has a significant talent advantage (more than 100 points) over 3 of their opponents. As mentioned above, UW has a talent disadvantage in two games-both of which are significant (more than 100 points).
While ‘College Team Talent’ can be a good method for helping to predict the outcome of games, it is not perfect. With DeBoer last year, we saw that UW is able to beat teams that have a talent advantage-even away from Husky Stadium. Last year they beat Oregon and Texas (ranked #7 and #6 respectively), both over 100 points better (more talent) than UW last year.
Based on that, it is not inconceivable for UW to beat most of the teams in the BigTen. The one exception could be Ohio State. They are at such a high level that we’ll have to see if any coaching advantage that UW would have can offset that. (And based on the Rose Bowl game in 2018, it would seem to be proof that coaching may not be enough.) It could be that UW may need to upgrade their roster to give it a better shot at beating Ohio State-either that, or the coaching may need to be at a very high level. Depending on how the schedules look in the BigTen, it seems possible for UW to finish in the top 3-4 in the BigTen-and possibly make it to the BigTen championship game.