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Grades vs. Games Winning College Football Teams & Their GPAs

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OneClass Blog
23 Dec 2019
9 min read

For fans of college football, the performance of student-athletes on the field may matter more than an athlete’s academic performance. However, insiders know that athletic scholarships are a savvy way to earn a college degree while hacking student debt. 

The difference between on-field and off-field stats can get contentious. 

For example, insiders at the University of Texas - Austin were boasting on Twitter about their football players achieving the highest grades in team history with a 2.89 average GPA. Rowdy fans of the Longhorns had fiery responses and a meme war ensued. One user notes that even though the letter grade is between a B and B-, “Let’s not [let] facts get in the way of throwing shade.” 

It may be easy to judge someone else’s academic performance. However, there have been many successful college athletes who have done well both on and off the field.

We were curious to better understand the overlap between grades and games to find out which of the top football teams were also attending colleges with competitive academics. Find out which NCAA Division I teams have the most total wins and the highest admissions grade point average.

winning college football teams and their GPAs

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Colleges with the Best Football Players and the Best Grades

Among Division I college football, four teams stand out. These teams have very high win ratios and are attending schools with very competitive academics. 

The Yale Bulldogs have won 909 football games over the team’s history. That’s the fifth-highest of all teams! Of course, the Ivy League school is also very competitive. The grades of admitted freshmen averaged 3.95, and Yale’s acceptance rate is only 6.9 percent. 

The Harvard Crimson football team has also had notable success. It has won 875 games, which is the 10th highest. Harvard is very competitive with a 5.2 percent acceptance rate. The grades of incoming freshman averaged a shocking 4.04. Even though the grading system is on a 4.0 scale, students who perform well in AP or Honors courses can have grades that are above the limit. 

As the team with the most wins, the Michigan Wolverines far surpass other colleges with 959 total wins and a 73 percent win rate. As a public ivy, the academics of the University of Michigan are also very strong. Admitted high school freshmen earned 3.82 on average, and the acceptance rate at the Big Ten school is 26.5 percent.

The other notable team is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. With 900 wins, the college football team ranks 8th out of all teams. The team would have been ranked second if it had not been for the 21 victories that were vacated by the NCAA when the team was sanctioned. The reason for this was an academic violation when a tutor completed class assignments for football players.  Overall, Notre Dame has strong academics. The grades of incoming freshman average 3.91, and the school has a competitive acceptance rate of 19 percent. 

Comparing College Football Wins to Grades

How good are the academic programs of the top 25 Division I colleges? Here’s the data on the total number of wins by the football teams and the grades of the admitted freshman class:

1. University of Michigan
Wins: 959
GPA: 3.82

2. Ohio State University
Wins: 916
GPA: 3.76

3. University of Texas - Austin
Wins: 911
GPA: 3.80

4. University of Alabama
Wins: 910
GPA: 3.60

5. Yale
Wins: 909
GPA: 3.95

6. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Wins: 900
GPA: 3.57

7. University of Notre Dame
Wins: 900
GPA: 3.91

8. University of Oklahoma
Wins: 900
GPA: 3.59

9. Penn State University
Wins: 895
GPA: 3.59

10. Harvard
Wins: 875
GPA: 4.04

11. University of Pennsylvania
Wins: 856
GPA: 3.90

12. University of Tennessee
Wins: 839
GPA: 3.85

13. University of Southern California
Wins: 839
GPA: 3.73

14. Princeton University
Wins: 832
GPA: 3.87

15. University of Georgia
Wins: 823
GPA: 3.86

16. Louisiana State University
Wins: 804
GPA: 3.45

17. Auburn University
Wins: 772
GPA: 3.74

18. West Virginia University
Wins: 750
GPA: 3.36

19. Clemson University
Wins: 749
GPA: 4.18

20. Texas A&M University
Wins: 744
GPA: 3.68

21. Virginia Tech
Wins: 743
GPA: 3.95

22. University of Washington
Wins: 738
GPA: 3.75

23. Georgia Tech
Wins: 736
GPA: 3.95

24. University of Florida
Wins: 730
GPA: 4.10

25. North Dakota State University
Wins: 725
GPA: 3.41

Grades While Playing College Football

The academic performance of football players can vary after they’re admitted to college. While some players can excel both on and off the field, others may struggle to balance the two commitments. 

Players do need to earn a specific number of credit hours to meet the NCAA academic eligibility requirements. However, it’s also worth noting that the type of courses is not factored into calculations of a team’s average grades. When Arizona State boasted about an all-time high cumulative average of 3.24 among student-athletes, we don’t know if students were taking classes like neurobiology or classes like music appreciation. 

With college teams facing competition in the classroom, as well as on the field, more students are discovering OneClass’ study resources as a way to become more efficient about classwork. 

With access to shared lecture notes, students have the freedom to focus on the discussion during class rather than busily taking notes. Students can also use notes to catch up on what happened in class if they were traveling for a game. Plus, prepared study guides give students the advantage of being able to jump right into studying without having to do the preparatory legwork. 

Find out what class notes are being shared for your college. 

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