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NCAAF Bragging Rights: Which State Rules

Top Heisman Trophy Candidates are California-Bred Quarterbacks

It is easy to look at the weekly national polls and draw the conclusions of where the best football is played.

With No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama leading four teams from the Southeastern Conference ranked in the top 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, it is pretty evident that the SEC still rules the college football world when it comes time to making college football picks.

Kenny McIntosh #6 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts after a touchdown in the first half against the Samford Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 10, 2022
Todd Kirkland / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The Big Ten is more than holding its own with Ohio State and Michigan ranked third and fourth and Penn State coming in at No. 11. The next Big Ten team is Minnesota at No. 21, and there are seven SEC teams in the top 20 so once again, the edge goes to the SEC.

Let’s look closer at how the rosters were constructed to get a sense of which state rules supreme.

Georgia (+175), Alabama (+200) and Ohio State (+225) continue to be listed by the college football odds in the odds to win the national title.

No Place Like Home for Top-Ranked Georgia

Kirby Smart is living up to his last name but not varying from a successful formula.

Georgia won a national title in the early 1980s with a roster loaded with local products, and looking at the current team, there are 85 in-state natives on the Georgia roster. The list starts with starting quarterback Stetson Bennett, second-leading rusher Daijun Edwards and third-leading receiver Ladd McConkey.

Per the college football predictions, Bennett (+800) has the fourth-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy.

On the other side of the ball, Smael Mondon, Malaki Starks, Dan Jackson, Christopher Smith, Kamari Lassiter, Nolan Smith, Trezmen Marshall and Javon Bullard all hail form Georgia, so that means that eight of the top 10 tacklers on perhaps the best defense in the country come from Georgia.

Alabama’s Recruiting Spans From Coast to Coast

There are 44 players from Alabama on the roster for the second-ranked Crimson Tide which is a very good number, but it pales in comparison to what Georgia can roll out on the field when it comes to home-grown talent.

It would probably not be a fair fight to line up the in-state products from Georgia and Alabama in a game.

It needs to be said that one of the advantages of Alabama dominating the sport for so long is that Nick Saban and his staff can and do recruit anywhere.

Quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young hails from California, leading rusher Jase McClellan is from Texas and top receiver Traeshon Holden comes from Florida.

The best defensive player for Alabama is likely linebacker Will Anderson Jr. and he comes from Georgia, so that only furthers the argument that the Peachtree State holds the edge on Alabama when it comes to putting out elite talent.

NCAAF Bragging Rights: Which State Rules
Kevin C. Cox / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Big Ten Powers Have Plenty of Local Talent

The commitment to taking care of the talent close to campus is not limited to the best teams in the SEC.

Michigan has 34 state products on the roster while Ohio State has more than 50 players from the state of Ohio. When those who bet online look at the top Big Ten programs, it is impossible to do so without weighing the impact of the local products.

Ohio State not only wins in the quantity department but also when it comes to securing elite talent from the Buckeyes’ backyard.

Linebacker Tommy Eichenberg (33 tackles, two sacks), offensive lineman Paris Johnson, running back Miyan Williams (a team-leading 308 yards), defensive linemen Michael Hall (nine tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks) and Jack Sawyer (eight tackles, two sacks), tight end Cade Stover (12 catches, 188 yards) and receiver Jayden Ballard are among the key players for the third-ranked Buckeyes from Ohio.

For Michigan, the top in-state contributors are defensive end Braiden McGregor (eight tackles, one tackle for loss) and defensive back Makari Page (nine tackles, two pass breakups).

Local Products Help Clemson Thrive in ACC

Clemson joins Georgia and Ohio State as teams currently ranked in the top five with at least 50 players from the state when the program is located.

Defensive tackle DeMonte Capehart (seven tackles, two tackles for loss) and safety Tyler Venables (18 tackles) are among the players from South Carolina who are the most productive.

Clemson also recruits well in nearby North Carolina, even though the state is loaded with college football programs. Nationally ranked North Carolina State has built its roster around state products with 73 players from North Carolina on the roster.

Closer Look at State Bragging Rights

Here are some other facts to consider.

Texas (No. 16 Baylor and No. 17 Texas A&M), Oklahoma (No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 18 Oklahoma) and Utah (No. 12 Utah and No. 19 Brigham Young) are the only states with two teams ranked in the top 20.

The top two players in the Heisman Trophy odds according to the sportsbook hail from California. Alabama’s Young and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud figure to be fighting it out for the top individual award in college football.

The top rusher who is playing at a school in his home state is Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen, the fifth-leading rusher in the country. The top-rated passer under those parameters is Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall, who ranked fifth with a 191.2 passer rating. Texas native Rashee Rice, the national leader with 565 receiving yards, stayed close to home by playing at Southern Methodist.

On the defensive side of the ball, Connecticut native Jackson Mitchell remained in state to attend UConn and he is the second-leading tackler at the FBS level. California native Laiatu Latu began his career at Washington, but he returned to California to play at UCLA. Latu is tied for third in the nation with five sacks.

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