Oregon Football Recruiting Analysis: Oregon Can’t Beat Ohio State

Winston couldn't score on 4th down

Did it start in 2012 when the Ohio State Buckeyes robbed the Oregon Ducks of highly touted all-purpose back Dontre Wilson right under their noses? Or did it begin before that when Ohio State out-recruited Oregon for top high school prospects? Either way, the 2015 recruiting class will not be different, with the Buckeyes winning this contest by a large margin — again.

Brutus says the Buckeyes are #1


Brutus says the Buckeyes are #1.

The current rosters of Oregon and Ohio State, who look forward to playing in the first national title game in the College Football Playoff’s inaugural year, began taking shape in 2011. I perused scout.com to see if I could find a glimmer of a Duck recruiting victory since then, but only found one of several angles. The Buckeyes have flat out dominated Oregon in the previous five years. [Editor’s note: 3-star Heisman winning quarterbacks aside, of course.]

The only stretch was in 2011 when Oregon brought in its best recruiting class since the beginning of the BCS era. One site, rivals.com, had Oregon ranked #9 and Ohio State #11. There it is. That’s it. The other two major sites, scout.com and 247sports.com, had the Ducks ranked #13 and #11, respectively. The Buckeyes looked much better on those two sites, ranking at #6 and #7, respectively, above the team in green.

On paper, Urban Meyer’s team is tops and Oregon does not hold a candle to it. In fact, in the 2011-2014 classes, Oregon was only able to bring in a single 5-star athlete each year, totaling a whopping four 5-star recruits. Well, Ohio State tied that amount of 5-star blue chippers twice in a single season. In 2012, Meyer not only stole away 4-star Wilson from Oregon but also added four 5-star studs. Then four more in 2013.

Urban Meyer the head coach for Ohio State


Urban Meyer, the head coach for Ohio State

Since 2012, the Buckeyes have not only won the battle for 5-stars but has doubled the number of 4-stars the Ducks have brought in, with the exception of 2012, when Oregon had nine while Ohio State only signed 11. Since then, OSU has welcomed 17 4-stars in 2013 to Oregon’s eight; 16 to eight in 2014; and currently Ohio State has 12 verbally committed 4-star prep stars to Oregon’s six. Ouch! The talent runs thick in Columbus.

For those of you who don’t like the star system and want to know where each player ranks in his recruited position, I looked at that too. Again, Oregon comes up short. On scout.com the list shows the individual ranking of each athlete, and the Buckeyes pick up many more top 10 studs at their specific positions. For example, punters are never ranked higher than 3-stars. However, if you recruit the top punter in the nation, you win that recruiting battle over everyone else.

Currently, the Ducks have four players committed that are ranked in the top 10 for their positions. This is the most in the last five years, with only three signing in each other year except 2012, in which the school signed only two. Ohio State, on the other hand, dominates again in this stat, with exception to the current class (which isn’t complete yet). The only similarity is that 2012 was the Buckeye’s worst year as well, in which seven top 10 positional guys were signed. 2011 and 2013 were identical with eight top 10 players signing with the Buckeyes, and last year’s class topped them by bringing in ten.

This #8 should not have the ball - its Reggie Daniels taking the ball from #4 Dalvin Cook

Craig Strobeck

This #8 should not have the ball – its Reggie Daniels taking the ball from #4 Dalvin Cook.

Clearly, Oregon sits in the shadow of its national title opponent in recruiting terms, but it stands on the same stage before this matchup of super teams. Unless I haven’t convinced you yet that the Ducks just don’t get the highly touted and sought after, NFL-ready players, I can look at the top three recruiting sites and see how they have ranked the two schools the last five years. The rankings always vary some but are always pretty close.

In the order, I will list just the numbers for each year for the two schools on rivals.com, scout.com and 247sports.com. The two most distinguishing years are 2013 and 2014 when Oregon signed the #22, 17, 19 (rivals, scout, and 247) and #26, 22, 21 classes, respectively. However, Ohio State ranked at #2, 1, 2 and #3, 5, 3 classes. Two top 25 classes compared to two top FIVE classes. This is the bulk of each semifinalists’ winning team. Obviously, the Buckeyes have the upper hand in talent and should be able to blow the Ducks up on the field.

With less than a month left in the 2015 recruiting cycle, Ohio State is far ahead of Oregon with a top seven ranking currently, while the Ducks’ new Ju-co commitment puts them floating around #20. I don’t see huge interest from any 5-star prep players for Oregon, and for the first time in several years I don’t foresee the Ducks landing any of them. Oregon can’t win this battle.

I don’t want this whole article to be a downer for Duck fans, so I will mention one more thing really quickly regarding an article I read about the title game matchup by an ESPN writer, KC Joyner. According to Joyner, “Ohio State should be favored over Oregon in national championship based on stats.” I read the introduction to his stats and couldn’t read any more.

Classic Rose Bowl scene with Winston fumbling and Tony Washington picking it up for a score

Craig Strobeck

Classic Rose Bowl scene with Winston fumbling and Tony Washington picking it up for a score

His argument begins with Ohio State having the longest active win streak (12 games) and “winning the Big Ten championship game and Sugar Bowl by a combined score of 101-35.” Then he states, “after taking a closer look at some of the elements making up this matchup, it becomes clear that a strong case can be made for the Buckeyes to be considered the favorite.”

Well said, Mr. Joyner. However, did you even take the time to look at the other side of the stats of these two facts? Apparently not. I realize that Ohio State only has the longest win streak now because Florida State’s 29 game streak came to an end… against Oregon. If the Ducks can take care of a 29 game win streak, why should they be intimidated by 12? Also the 101-35 in the Buckeyes last two big games is close to Oregon’s 110-33 combined score of the Pac 12 championship game and the Rose Bowl, but not as good. Weird facts to try to state a “strong” case for an argument.

Oregon just laid the wood to a far better recruiting machine in Florida State, which had a top three class last year and the #1 class in 2011. If the Ducks play another in Ohio State, they will still have a great chance to win. So, the recruiting winner in the end will be Ohio State — again, but on the field, Oregon has it where it needs it.

Top photo by John Sperry

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Jason Fowler

Jason Fowler

Jason, born and raised in central Oregon, first noticed college football when his older brother attended the University of Oregon. Jason studied English at Southern Oregon University and enjoyed cheering for the school’s team, but longed for that major college game-day experience. That desire slowly blossomed into a fanatical passion for the national feel of college football, especially defending the Pac-12 while challenging conferences like the SEC to step up. He has spent five years expounding on the differences between the two conferences on his blog, buzzbrother2-pac10football.blogspot.com, set up solely for that purpose. Following the Ducks' recruiting progress in the off-season has made college football a year-round hobby for him. He now resides in Spokane, Washington with his incredibly patient, non-football-fan wife and three children, and works as an MRI Technologist. He can be reached at buzzbrother2@msn.com.


    Jason real good stuff but isn’t this old news? I mean Oregon loses every year to OS, AUBURN, FSU, USC ect, ect, ect! Isn’t it the Coaching staff like Oregon’s that find the players they can literally make into 5 stars. Because from what I’ve seen over the years is Oregon does way more with ALLEGEDLY way less. Its just like the NFL Draft it’s honestly a crap shoot. Oregon is a better Offense than OS and that’s W/O a doubt but if we still have unbelievers anywhere especially Duck fans, just tune into Dallas AT@T Stadium on the 12th and witness this 3 star team win their 1st National Title against Sarcasm the most SUPERIOR Team they’ve faced yet! Look at TCU they are really a lot like Oregon when it comes to recruiting and they just WIN BABY! Please this is just like the this guy’s too small and they keep doing it. In a way that’s good though because that should be way more than enough motivation for our guy’s to get the job done 1 more time in 2015. HISTORIC! Why can’t somebody write an Article about how FSU show’s such bad sportsmanship so the whole world can see who they really are. NO CLASS!

    • Anthony Joseph Gomes

      mike belloti said its not the 11 best players but the 11 players who play best together. oregon completely overlooks 5 stars with low testing numbers and do not fit into their overall strategy in favor of 3 stars with good testing numbers who do.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    totally misleading article. assumes stars by services=good football talent. assumes scouting services know more than oregon coaches in spite of the fact that oregons record on the field consistently exceeds scouting service assessment of player quality. as for dontre wilson who cares? he is a bit player in the OSU offense anyway so its probably good he left or if it wasnt it must mean that him leaving hurt him more than it hurt the ducks. when wilson claimed that he was misled by chip kelly and made all the remarks about the faux “investigation” he labeled himself an idiot in my mind. it this article were to rise to the level of a shakespearian work of art i would call it …………,much ado about nothing.

    • hokieduck

      The point Jason was making was that *statistically*, tOSU beats the Ducks handily on the recruiting side. Why is that misleading? It is, in fact, true.

      Oregon simply identifies what it needs and recruits players that fit their needs and system and have a team-first mindset, making them willing to buy into the Ducks’ system. A *lot* of the 5* and some 4* kids are simply not team-first types. Period. The Ducks do more background investigation of these kids than just about anyone (according to remarks made by recruit after recruit who talks about it).

      The Ducks will never win the *paper* recruiting battle. That is all Jason was trying to say.

      • Anthony Joseph Gomes

        no ohio state did not beat the ducks in recruiting. OSU may get the players rivals and scout think are good not the players the ducks necessarily want. if the ducks eschew taking players rivals and scout think are good in favor of those they think are better and then win with those players did they fail at recruiting? scout and rivals would like you to think that you did…but i would answer a resounding no to that question. it is far more important to win games than to do what the services think you should do.

  • Dan

    One article showed the recruiting rankings (i.e., # of stars) of each team’s starters. I was surprised at the number of 3 star recruits starting at Ohio State, particularly on offense, given the number of 4 and 5 star kids they sign. Just shows you that the recruiting rankings aren’t a sure thing and there are a bunch of lower rated kids who can and do develop, and become great players.

  • Patrick

    Oregon vs Ohio State Live Streaming………… http://w.atch.me/lgYMQF

  • Dave Allen

    On paper OSU is the best team, maybe we should not play the game and just let scouts decide the game?! Mariota was actually a 2-star recruit, just more proof that these recruiters have no idea what they are doing!