The Top College Football Program From Each State

March 17, 2019

There is an everlasting argument between fans of who runs the state. Alabama vs Auburn, Washington vs Washington State, Iowa vs Iowa State and many other states have deep and hateful rivalries. For this article I decided to put together a list of the best football programs from each state. For this I am basing it off of how the program is currently, not how good they have been historically, but the current state of the program. I know I will probably get some wrong in your eyes so feel free to let me know where I messed up, you can find me on twitter at @Ryanmcc09.

 

Alabama - Alabama Crimson Tide

Auburn would probably win in 45 other states right now but nobody except possibly Clemson right now is a better program than Alabama. The Crimson Tide, despite losing in the National Championship this year is still the top tier school in the state and all of college football.

 

 

Alaska - East Anchorage High School

Yes, Alaska is the only state in the country without a college football team so by default the best team in the state of Alaska is the East Anchorage Thunderbird who won the 2018 state championship after beating West Anchorage in a thrilling 35-6 game which I'm sure you probably remember watching.

 

 

Arizona - Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State came off of a great season with a 7-6 record and a bowl appearance which no other team in the state can claim. The Sun Devils beat rival Arizona to get to 7 wins and to keep the Wildcats out of a bowl game in a disappointing season for the Wildcats. This is a state that could go either way any given year but at the moment you have to give the edge to the Sun Devils.

 

 

Arkansas - Arkansas State Red Wolves

Arkansas State is a mid major school that a lot of people sleep on. They may not be as good as the Boise States and UCF's of the world but the Red Wolves have now made 8 straight bowl games winning 3 of tehm and have won at least 7 games in that stretch. With the Arkansas Razorbacks rebuilding at the moment this state belongs to the Red Wolves.

 

 

California - Stanford Cardinal

Stanford is coming off of a 9-4 season with a bowl win and while it may have seemed to be a disappointing year for Cardinal fans they are still at the top of the state. With USC, Cal, and UCLA rebuilding and trying to figure out what is going on it is Stanfords state to run. Coming in a close second right now would probably be the Fresno State Bulldogs who could surpass the Cardinal here if they keep up what they have going.

 

 

Colorado - Colorado Buffalo

Colorado wins by default by being good the previous few years. It was a bad year for college football teams in the state but Air Force and Colorado State weren't any better. Colorado does have a new head coach in Mel Tucker who is coming over from Georgia to try to bring back what they Buffalos were building over the past few years.

 

Connecticut - Sacred Heart Pioneers

Connecticut may be the worst state for college football at the moment. This one came down to Sacred Heart, CCSU, Uconn and Yale. The Pioneers managed 7 wins which is the most of any team in the state and with Uconn who is the only FBS school in the state at 1-11 this past year you have to give it to the Pioneers.

 

Delaware - Delaware Blue Hens

This was a tough one, a tight battle between Delaware and Delaware State. You could really go either way on this one but the Blue Hens are coming off a 7-5 season and have been better overall over the past decade. Home of the elite Joe Flacco the Blue Hens are known for pumping out elite NFL talent every now and then.

 

 

Florida - Florida Gators

This is one that probably changes on a regular basis. With Florida, Florida State, Miami, UCF, USF, and FAU there are a lot of talented teams in the state. The Gators are coming off a 10 win season and NY6 bowl win while Miami has a new head coach trying to rebuild and FSU is in shambles. UCF is probably a close second now but the Gators have proven they are a more elite program by securing another top ten recruiting class while UCF sits at 55th (rivals0

 

 

Georgia - Georgia Bulldogs

There really isn't much argument on this one. Georgia Southern is a very good program but Georgia is one of the best in the nation right now. A trip to the national championship in 2017 and a NY6 bowl in 2018 have the Bulldogs on top of the state despite the fact that they lost both of those games. 

 

 

Hawaii - Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

By default the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors win this one being the only D1 football program in the state. The Rainbow Warriors are no slouch though, they are coming off an 8-6 season and are trending in the right direction for the future under head coach Nick Rolovich.

 

 

Idaho - Boise State Broncos

Boise State for the longest time has set the bar for mid major schools looking to compete at the highest level. The Broncos have taken a small step back since Chris Peterson left for Washington but the Broncos are still year in and year out one of the top mid major schools in the nation.

 

Illinois - Northwestern Wildcats

Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most underrated coaches in the nation. What he has been able to do at Northwestern in turning that program around is incredible. For a long time the Wildcats were the laughing stock of the Big Ten but Northwestern is a growing power in the conference. NIU is probably second right now but the Huskies have taken a step back and NW is coming off a Big Ten West championship!

 

Indiana - Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Purdue has been a nice story this year but this one really isn't much of a debate. Notre Dame is one of the most historic teams in the nation and coming off a perfect regular season has Irish fans happy with where they are at right now.

 

Iowa - Iowa Hawkeyes

This was probably one of the toughest ones to do. Iowa has been the power in the state for the longest time but Matt Campbell and the Cyclones have been slowly creeping up on the Hawkeyes. I think Iowa State is still a little behind Iowa but watch out as Iowa State may be a sleeping giant if they can keep up what they have going right now.

 

Kansas - Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas is a state known for their college basketball teams but the Wildcats have been less worse than anyone else in the state. Legendary head coach Bill Snyder has finally retired and the reigns have been passed to Chris Klieman to try to get the Wildcats back to the level they were at under Snyder at his peak.

 

Kentucky - Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky, like Kansas is a state known for college basketball but Mark Stoops had people in the blue grass state talking about football this year and Wildcats fans just watched one of the best teams in school history this past season. The Wildcats are losing some big names but should still be a team to watch out for in 2019 as they are not a guaranteed win anymore.

 

Louisiana - LSU Tigers

LSU is a football power and has been for a while. The state of Louisiana is full of talented football teams including Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, and others but the Tigers are who run this state. Coming off of a Fiesta Bowl win, LSU is a team that expects to be competing for national championships each year and will be if they can ever get passed Alabama.

 

Maine - Maine Black Bears

Maine is another one of those states with only one D-1 school but the Black Bears are a solid team. Finishing 2018 with a record of 10-4 and a trip to the FCS Semi Finals befroe losing to Eastern Washington the Black Bears are a top tier FCS program at the moment and look to continue that success in 2019.

 

Maryland - Maryland Terrapins 

It was a tough season for Maryland with the DJ Durkin situation overshadowing the season but the Terrapins still had a descent season despite the circumstances. Mike Locksley takes over the Terrapins program and looks to build on some bright spots in 2018 as they look to compete in the difficult Big Ten East division.

 

Massachusetts - Boston College Golden Eagles

Massachusetts is not known for their football, or at least their college football but Steve Adazio has taken the Boston College program and made them somewhat good again. The Golden Eagles had a good year making it to a bowl game and were even ranked in the top 25 at one point. Little competition in this state but Boston College isn't a pushover anymore.

 

Michigan - Michigan Wolverines

Michigan has historically been running the state but Michigan State had taken over for a little while there. While the Wolverines still can't seem to win the big game they at least in my opinion have passed Michigan State again as the Spartans have taken a bit of a decline over the past few years.

 

Minnesota - Minnesota Golden Gophers

Minnesota is another state that doesn't have much competition at the moment. The Golden Gophers haven't really been good lately but there is some hope that PJ Fleck will begin to turn them around as they have shown a little improvement over the past few years. It also helps that they are in the Big Ten West that has been down lately, if you want a good time to try to break through now is it for Minnesota.

 

Mississippi - Mississippi State Bulldogs

This is another state that is loaded with good programs. Mississippi State and Ole Miss usually battle it out but Southern Miss is another team that has been very good of late. I have to give the edge to the Bulldogs at the moment as Old Miss is still recovering from the Hugh Freeze scandal but the Rebels should be back soon and with Dan Mullen now gone in Starkville it will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs fare the next few seasons.

 

Missouri - Missouri Tigers

Missouri is a program that has been very up and down over the past decade and while they are probably more down than up right now there isn't anyone else in the state that is better. Kelly Bryant comes in this year to help try to get the program heading back in the right direction but the SEC east has been improving and unless the Tigers do as well they will continue to sit at the bottom half.

 

 

Montana - Montana State Fighting Bobcats

A tough choice between the Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State Fighting Bobcats but the Bobcats edged out the Grizzlies this past year with an 8-5 record to the 6-5 mark of the Grizzlies. The Bobcats made it to the second round of the FCS playoffs before getting pummeled by North Dakota State. This one between the Bobcats and Grizzlies is a good FCS rivalry and one that probably goes back and forth year to year.

 

Nebraska - Nebraska Cornhuskers

Nebraska got off to a horrendous start last year but a good second half of the season has Cornhusker fans optimistic. Year two under Scott Frost should be better and with no other major college football programs in the state the Cornhuskers continue to dominate the state.

 

Nevada - Nevada Wolfpack

Another solid year for the Wolfpack has them on top of the state. A bowl win and an 8-5 record have people excited about this program and with little competition in the state at the moment, Nevada runs away with this one for the time being.

 

New Hampshire - Dartmouth Big Green

The Big Green had another dominating year in the Ivy league finishing with a 9-1 record and with their lone loss coming to the undefeated Princeton Tigers. Not necessarily known as a football state, New Hampshire doesn't have a lot to offer but the Big Green are definitely deserving of this award after the season they had this year.

 

New Jersey - Princeton Tigers

Rutgers is the only FBS program in the state and for a lot of other states that was enough to get them the top spot, but Rutgers is one of the worst power 5 programs in recent history and the Princeton Tigers are coming off a 10-0 regular season and Ivy League championship so they are far more deserving of this award at the moment.

 

New Mexico - New Mexicon Lobos

New Mexico and New Mexico state both finished the 2018 season with 3 wins but a 42-25 win in September by the Lobos gives them the edge here. Another state that is kind of forgotten when you talk football they do have two FBS programs and while neither have been historically dominant they do have a good rivalry and will continue to battle each other out for this award year in and year out.

 

New York - Syracuse Orange

New York is a state like many in the north east that really isn't known for football. While Syracuse is normally known as a basketball school the Orange have been very good over the past two years (at least by their standards) and are a team to watch out for in the future. Buffalo gets the honorable mention after a very good year as well but the Orange are clearly the best team in New York at the moment.

 

 

North Carolina - NC State Wolfpack

North Carolina is definitely a basketball state and you can tell that by the quality of their college football teams. This was a tough decision between NC State and App State as the Mountaineers have also been very good. I give the edge to NC State because they have been solid and because who knows how App State will be after the departure of coach Scott Satterfield. 

 

North Dakota - North Dakota State Bison

North Dakota State has been one of the most dominant programs in college football over the past few years at any level. The Bison have won National Championships in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 which is a run that makes even Alabama look average. It will be interesting to see if the Bison ever decide to make the jump to FBS as many teams have after that much success. Either way this is a very good football program and looks to continue to be over the next few years.

 

Ohio - Ohio State Buckeyes

This one really wasn't much of a decision. Ohio State is one of the top programs in the nation and the only Power 5 school in the state. Cincy, Ohio, and Toledo are also good programs but none of them come even close to topping the Buckeyes. 

 

 

Oklahoma - Oklahoma Sooners

This one is pretty clear as well. Oklahoma State is also a good program but Oklahoma is coming off back to back CFB playoff appearances and there are not many schools in the nation that can even compare to what Lincoln Riley has going on in Norman at the moment. The only thing keeping Oklahoma from being a National Champion is a better defense but that could come here soon. 

 

 

Oregon - Oregon Ducks

 

Another state here that is pretty clear and would pose little argument. It's really Oregon or Oregon State and Oregon State has been one of the worst power 5 schools over the past few years. Oregon is a serious Pac 12 champion contender and could also have a very good shot at the college football playoffs with Justin Herbert coming back for another year.

 

Pennsylvania - Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State had a bit of a disappointing season but they are still the top dogs in the state. Pitt had a good year as well but nobody in this state including Pitt is even close to the level that James Franklin and Penn State is at right now. 

 

 

Rhode Island - Rhode Island Rams

Known more for their basketball, the Rhode Island Rams have a pretty average football team as well. The smallest state in the country geographically speaking doesn't have many options here and the Rams who finished this past season at 6-5 is good enough for me.

 

South Carolina - Clemson Tigers

This is another one that really shouldn't get too much argument. Clemson is arguably the best program in the entire country right now and with 2 national championships in the past 3 years they are the real deal. Dabo Sweeny has built something special here and the Tigers are here to stay and are a serious threat to win it all again in 2019.

 

South Dakota - South Dakota State Jackrabbits 

South Dakota State is another FCS power house. Not quite at the level of North Dakota State but the Jackrabbits are a threat each year and after coming off another successful season finishing 10-3 the Jackrabbits look to continue their success in 2019. 

 

Tennessee - Memphis Tigers

Historically this would have been the team out of Knoxville but the Vols have been so bad over the past few seasons and the Memphis Tigers have been one of the better group of 5 schools so I have to give the edge to Memphis here. Memphis has come very close to a few conference championships over the past few years only falling short to the UCF knights but regardless they are a very good football program with some very talented players.

 

Texas - Texas Longhorns

This one is likely to get a lot of argument and for good reason. Texas, Texas A&M and TCU all have legitimate reasons to have this title but after the season that Texas had in 2018 and their brand strength I have to give the slight edge to the Longhorns. A&M however is right on their heels with the Horned Frogs not too far behind either. All I know is I want the Texas vs Texas A&M rivalry to come back because both of these programs are looking very strong.

 

Utah - Utah Utes

Utah was quietly one of the best states for college football in 2018 between Utah, BYU and Utah State but I have to give the edge to the Utes. They finished 2018 as the PAC 12 South champs and with 9 wins which is a very good year. Utah State was another team that was very good but one solid year isn't enough to establish themselves at the level that Utah is at right now. 

 

Vermont - Middlebury Panthers

This was a tough one between a few D3 powers in Middlebury, Norwich, and Castleton but I give the edge to Middlebury after a 5-4 season compared to 3 and 2 wins by the other two programs. Middlebury College is located in Middlebury, VT and are Blue and White and that's about all I know about them at the moment. 

 

 

Virginia - Virginia Tech

The Hokies had a bit of a down year while other teams like Virginia had surprisingly good years but VT has been a very good program the few years prior and are still one of the top programs in the ACC. Justin Fuente will have to try to get this program back heading in the right direction after a tough year but they have the talent to do that and should be a force in the ACC in 2019.

 

Washington - Washington Huskies

This was a close one too. I think its a clear answer because the Huskies still beat Washington State but Mike Leach has the Cougars on the heels of Washington. Washington State had the better season until the final week when they lost to Washington and inevitably lost a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. I think Washington State will be very good again so this could change by this time next year. 

 

West Virginia - West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia is an interesting team to watch. Coming off one of their best seasons in recent history their head coach leaves for a smaller program. This clearly came because of some differences of opinions between him and the adiminstration but its still an odd move. The Mountaineers are sill in good hands with Neil Brown and with Marshall as the only real competition in the state, West Virginia wins this in a landslide.

 

Wisconsin - Wisconsin Badgers

This was a tough one between Wisconsin and no one else. The Badgers are still a top tier program and being the only FBS school in the state makes it an easy decision. While the Badgers had a disappointing season in 2018 they are still a very good program and would win this contest in a lot of other states as well.

 

Wyoming - Wyoming Cowboys

Josh Allen is no longer there but the Cowboys are still the best team in the state mostly because there really isn't anyone else there. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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