2013 college football rankings projections after National Signing Day

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Updated to include a by-conference breakout at the bottom.

Last February, I posted what I thought were pretty useful, and incredibly raw/basic, projections for the 2012 season. They were based on just three factors: recent performance, returning starters, and recent recruiting. The good: Both Notre Dame and Texas A&M were projected as Top 15 teams, which was a lot more credit than they were given by most. The bad: Let's just ignore where Auburn was projected, huh?

While these in no way resemble what will be the final F/+ projections for the 2013 season, I felt it would be useful to post early projections again this year. It's a nice starting point for the conversation, right?

Below, then, you will find F/+ projections for each of the now 125 FBS teams. Accompanying the projections are three main pieces of data: five-year F/+ average, returning starter data (via the inestimable Phil Steele), and 2013 recruiting rankings (via Rivals.com). These are not the specific data points that go into the projections -- I use a five-year average more weighted toward recent performance, and I use two-year recruiting averages for the recruiting piece -- but I felt they added something to the conversation.

Some initial reactions:

  • UCLA seems quite low to me, but that's mostly because of the Bruins' poor performances pre-Mora. Solid experience and good recruiting should suit them just fine. Georgia also felt too low to me at first until I remembered what they lost on defense.
  • Texas A&M feels a bit low, but let this serve as a reminder that the Aggies have only been great for one year. They were good (much better than their record) in 2011, but they weren't elite. And while their recruiting was excellent this year, it wasn't better than most of the teams projected ahead of them.
  • On the flipside, no, Ohio State really does not feel low to me. On paper, that wasn't a Top 10 team in 2012, but ... damn, are they looking scary for the future. I'm just not sure "the future" will fully arrive in 2013.
  • According to Phil Steele, Kansas State returns ONE defensive starter. Is that right??
  • Do not sleep on Oklahoma State. Seventh feels a couple of spots high to me, but I really, really like what they're bringing to the table.
  • One note: If you were to go over to Football Outsiders and calculate five-year F/+ averages on your own, you would get something slightly different than what you see below. That's because I made quite a few tweaks to the rankings this offseason, and as of tomorrow (February 7) you'll see the new rankings at FO. See tomorrow's Varsity Numbers column at FO for more details.
  • The distance between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon (11.4%) is almost the same as the distance between Oregon and No. 12 Florida State. To win a third straight national title, the Tide will need luck on their side (just like it was in 2011-12 after losses to LSU and Texas A&M), but there's absolutely no question who's starting out on top in 2013.

Anyway, let the debate begin, huh?

Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
1 Alabama +41.7% 1 13 1 +46.2%
2 Oregon +26.7% 5 15 21 +34.8%
3 LSU +24.3% 7 13 6 +28.4%
4 Notre Dame +18.1% 16 14 3 +26.8%
5 Oklahoma +29.4% 3 11 15 +26.5%
6 Florida +28.6% 4 11 4 +26.3%
7 Oklahoma State +23.1% 9 14 34 +26.3%
8 Stanford +19.6% 14 15 61 +26.0%
9 Ohio State +24.2% 8 13 2 +25.3%
10 Boise State +30.4% 2 13 62 +24.1%
11 Georgia +17.6% 17 13 12 +24.1%
12 Florida State +19.7% 13 10 9 +23.1%
13 Texas A&M +12.5% 24 10 10 +22.7%
14 Wisconsin +19.9% 12 15 56 +22.7%
15 Texas +20.2% 11 19 23 +22.2%
16 South Carolina +16.0% 20 12 16 +21.3%
17 USC +21.2% 10 15 13 +19.8%
18 TCU +25.1% 6 15 35 +19.3%
19 Nebraska +17.2% 19 13 17 +19.0%
20 Michigan State +13.6% 22 15 38 +18.8%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
21 Clemson +15.2% 21 13 14 +17.7%
22 Michigan +8.9% 32 12 5 +17.5%
23 Penn State +19.0% 15 13 41 +15.8%
24 Virginia Tech +17.5% 18 13 22 +14.2%
25 Oregon State +7.9% 35 15 37 +13.9%
26 Cincinnati +12.4% 27 14 71 +13.6%
27 Ole Miss +7.7% 36 18 7 +13.2%
28 BYU +9.9% 30 14 76 +13.0%
29 Louisville +0.6% 56 15 57 +11.8%
30 Pittsburgh +13.2% 23 14 33 +11.4%
31 Arizona +6.7% 39 17 36 +10.1%
32 Arkansas +12.5% 25 11 31 +9.8%
33 North Carolina +9.1% 31 15 40 +9.7%
34 Arizona State +3.8% 48 14 32 +9.7%
35 Miami +8.0% 34 19 45 +8.5%
36 Baylor +1.1% 54 13 28 +8.3%
37 Georgia Tech +7.0% 38 16 84 +7.7%
38 Washington -5.9% 79 17 18 +7.3%
39 Northwestern +2.2% 51 15 52 +7.0%
40 West Virginia +11.9% 28 9 24 +6.3%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
41 UCLA -3.6% 68 13 11 +5.9%
42 Kansas State +4.0% 47 8 64 +5.8%
43 Tennessee +4.3% 44 13 20 +5.5%
44 Missouri +11.5% 29 12 39 +5.1%
45 Texas Tech +7.1% 37 13 51 +4.5%
46 Rutgers +4.2% 46 10 44 +4.4%
47 Syracuse -3.0% 65 13 72 +4.3%
48 Iowa +12.4% 26 14 52 +4.0%
49 Vanderbilt -2.4% 62 13 19 +3.3%
50 San Diego State -5.8% 77 16 77 +3.3%
51 Mississippi State -0.2% 58 13 25 +3.2%
52 Northern Illinois +2.7% 50 12 108 +3.0%
53 Utah State -6.9% 84 15 103 +2.8%
54 Utah +8.8% 33 13 42 +2.5%
55 Tulsa +4.5% 43 10 72 +1.7%
56 Houston +5.0% 41 14 50 +1.7%
57 Auburn +5.1% 40 15 8 +1.3%
58 Central Florida +0.8% 55 11 72 +1.3%
59 N.C. State +3.6% 49 11 47 +1.2%
60 Connecticut +4.7% 42 13 64 +0.9%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
61 Arkansas State -5.1% 74 12 107 -0.1%
62 Fresno State -4.4% 70 13 64 -0.7%
63 Virginia -4.5% 72 14 26 -1.8%
64 South Florida +4.2% 45 10 49 -1.8%
65 Toledo -6.4% 81 13 70 -2.1%
66 Bowling Green -6.3% 80 19 83 -2.8%
67 Purdue -4.4% 71 13 55 -3.5%
68 Temple -1.2% 59 15 85 -4.0%
69 California +1.2% 53 9 29 -4.2%
70 Minnesota -8.4% 88 16 60 -4.6%
71 Boston College +1.9% 52 14 87 -5.4%
72 Indiana -13.6% 99 19 42 -5.8%
73 UL-Lafayette -11.1% 92 13 80 -6.1%
74 San Jose State -13.3% 96 13 123 -6.1%
75 Marshall -9.3% 89 15 62 -6.5%
76 Wake Forest -3.0% 64 16 58 -6.9%
77 Iowa State -7.3% 85 9 58 -7.2%
78 Duke -7.4% 86 14 67 -7.2%
79 Maryland -4.6% 73 12 30 -7.7%
80 East Carolina -3.4% 67 15 93 -8.4%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
81 Ohio -5.9% 78 11 101 -8.4%
82 UL-Monroe -13.9% 100 17 120 -8.6%
83 Kent State -12.2% 94 11 103 -9.3%
84 Nevada -2.9% 63 11 93 -9.5%
85 Western Michigan -5.5% 75 10 101 -9.6%
86 Southern Miss -1.6% 60 13 72 -9.6%
87 Ball State -9.7% 90 14 100 -9.9%
88 Illinois -3.3% 66 12 47 -10.0%
89 Air Force -0.1% 57 12 106 -10.2%
90 Kentucky -6.6% 82 13 27 -10.4%
91 SMU -6.7% 83 9 67 -10.5%
92 Louisiana Tech -4.2% 69 6 78 -11.1%
93 Rice -14.4% 101 17 90 -11.5%
94 Western Kentucky -17.5% 107 13 90 -11.8%
95 Central Michigan -7.7% 87 14 87 -13.5%
96 Navy -1.7% 61 11 98 -13.6%
97 Washington State -24.2% 120 15 52 -13.7%
98 Florida International -10.3% 91 8 111 -13.7%
99 Buffalo -12.8% 95 16 123 -15.3%
100 Hawaii -13.4% 98 18 90 -16.1%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
101 Troy -5.6% 76 7 95 -16.2%
102 Middle Tennessee -15.9% 102 17 95 -16.4%
103 Miami (Ohio) -17.0% 105 13 109 -16.4%
104 Kansas -11.1% 93 11 45 -16.5%
105 Wyoming -19.2% 108 14 103 -18.0%
106 Army -16.6% 104 17 109 -18.1%
107 UTEP -13.4% 97 11 121 -19.1%
108 North Texas -21.5% 113 16 117 -19.2%
109 UAB -16.2% 103 12 95 -19.7%
110 Colorado -17.2% 106 17 67 -20.3%
111 Tulane -24.6% 121 17 79 -20.5%
112 Memphis -22.2% 115 13 89 -21.1%
113 UNLV -21.3% 112 18 113 -21.3%
114 Texas State -20.9% 111 13 80 -21.6%
115 UTSA -23.4% 117 19 115 -21.6%
116 Eastern Michigan -24.2% 119 13 113 -21.8%
117 Colorado State -19.4% 110 16 82 -22.6%
118 South Alabama -23.9% 118 17 111 -23.1%
119 Florida Atlantic -19.4% 109 12 85 -23.3%
120 Akron -23.0% 116 14 117 -24.3%
Proj.
2013 Rk
Team 5-Year
F/+ Avg.
Rk Returning
Starters
2013 Recruiting
Rank
2013 Proj. F/+
121 Idaho -21.6% 114 11 122 -26.4%
122 New Mexico -26.7% 122 11 99 -29.6%
123 New Mexico State -29.3% 123 14 116 -30.3%
124 Massachusetts -34.9% 124 9 117 -38.5%
125 Georgia State N/A N/A 14 N/A -38.8%

Here's the list by conference.

ACC

Atlantic
1. Florida State (No. 12 overall)
2. Clemson (21)
3. Syracuse (47)
4. N.C. State (59)
5. Boston College (71)
6. Wake Forest (76)
7. Maryland (79)

Coastal
1. Virginia Tech (24)
2. Pittsburgh (30)
3. North Carolina (33)
4. Miami (35)
5. Georgia Tech (37)
6. Virginia (63)
7. Duke (78)

So basically, the Atlantic has the two best teams, and the Coastal has the next five.

Big 12

1. Oklahoma (No. 5 overall)
2. Oklahoma State (7)
3. Texas (15)
4. TCU (18)
5. Baylor (36)
6. West Virginia (40)
7. Kansas State (42)
8. Texas Tech (45)
9. Iowa State (77)
10. Kansas (104)

Big East

1. Cincinnati (No. 26 overall)
2. Louisville (29)
3. Rutgers (46)
4. Houston (56)
5. UCF (58)
6. UConn (60)
7. South Florida (64)
8. Temple (68)
9. SMU (91)
10. Memphis (112)

I ... think this is the correct membership for next year...

Big Ten

Leaders
1. Ohio State (No. 9 overall)
2. Wisconsin (14)
3. Penn State (23)
4. Purdue (67)
5. Indiana (72)
6. Illinois (88)

Legends
1. Nebraska (19)
2. Michigan State (20)
3. Michigan (22)
4. Northwestern (39)
5. Iowa (48)
6. Minnesota (70)

Conference USA

East
1. Marshall (No. 75 overall)
2. East Carolina (80)
3. Southern Miss (86)
4. Florida International (98)
5. Middle Tennessee (102)
6. UAB (109)
7. Florida Atlantic (119)

West
1. Tulsa (55)
2. Louisiana Tech (92)
3. Rice (93)
4. UTEP (107)
5. North Texas (108)
6. Tulane (111)
7. UTSA (115)

I ... think this is the correct membership for next year ... and damn, do those division lineups feel weird.

Independents

1. Notre Dame (No. 4 overall)
2. BYU (28)
3. Navy (96)
4. Army (106)
5. Idaho (121)
6. New Mexico State (123)

MAC

East
1. Bowling Green (No. 66 overall)
2. Ohio (81)
3. Kent State (83)
4. Buffalo (99)
5. Miami-OH (103)
6. Akron (120)
7. UMass (124)

West
1. Northern Illinois (52)
2. Toledo (65)
3. Western Michigan (85)
4. Ball State (87)
5. Central Michigan (95)
6. Eastern Michigan (116)

Mountain West

Mountain
1. Boise State (No. 10 overall)
2. Utah State (53)
3. Air Force (89)
4. Wyoming (105)
5. Colorado State (117)
6. New Mexico (122)

West
1. San Diego State (50)
2. Fresno State (62)
3. San Jose State (74)
4. Nevada (84)
5. Hawaii (100)
6. UNLV (113)

Pac-12

North
1. Oregon (No. 2 overall)
2. Stanford (8)
3. Oregon State (25)
4. Washington (38)
5. California (69)
6. Washington State (97)

South
1. USC (17)
2. Arizona (31)
3. Arizona State (34)
4. UCLA (41)
5. Utah (54)
6. Colorado (110)

SEC

East
1. Florida (No. 6 overall)
2. Georgia (11)
3. South Carolina (16)
4. Tennessee (43)
5. Missouri (44)
6. Vanderbilt (49)
7. Kentucky (90)

West
1. Alabama (1)
2. LSU (3)
3. Texas A&M (13)
4. Ole Miss (27)
5. Arkansas (32)
6. Mississippi State (51)
7. Auburn (57)

Sun Belt

1. Arkansas State (No. 61 overall)
2. UL-Lafayette (73)
3. UL-Monroe (82)
4. Western Kentucky (94)
5. Troy (101)
6. Texas State (114)
7. South Alabama (118)
8. Georgia State (125)

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