Skip to main content

Best Football Colleges

NCSA Best Football Colleges

College Football is one of the most competitive sports and with a lot of big names it can be hard to decide on the right fit. There are things more important than what division the school competes in for football. What is their graduation rate? How well do their student-athletes perform? Does the school have your major? The rankings below are designed to get you started on your college search by learning about schools that you may not have thought to consider.

NCSA Power Rankings are based on proprietary analysis of NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the over 2 million student-athletes on the NCSA recruiting network, U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, IPEDS graduation rates, and IPEDS average cost after aid.

The goal of these ranking is to help families find the best college fit athletically, academically, socially and financially.


With over 600 4-year colleges that offer college football, there was a lot of competition to make our top 5 list. It should come as no surprise that there are some heavy hitters here, ranging from NCAA D1-FCS colleges all the way to NCAA D3.


  1. Stanford University
  2. University of California Los Angeles
  3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. University of Florida
  5. University of Michigan

See the top 100 colleges for football student-athletes


D1 schools offer full rides, have the Power Five schools and powerful fan bases. The NCAA D1 Football colleges consist of the Football Bowl and Football Championship subdivisions. Luckily, our list includes both subdivisions to give recruits a mix of schools to consider.


  1. Stanford University
  2. University of California Los Angeles
  3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. University of Florida
  5. University of Michigan

Top 100 NCAA Division I Football Colleges


Sometimes the choice between D2 and D1 comes down to the right fit. The choice has less to do about athletic talent because student-athletes should consider how a school fit academically, socially, athletically and financially. There are 170+ NCAA D2 colleges, and here are the top 5 rankings.


  1. Bentley University
  2. Truman State University
  3. Grand Valley State University
  4. Colorado School of Mines
  5. Augustana University — South Dakota

Top 100 NCAA D2 Football Colleges


D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, but there are plenty of academic scholarships available for students. Talk with the coach at D3 schools that you are interested in, and they can tell you all the forms of financial aid available. Want to know the best part about D3 schools? There are over 240 football colleges at the NCAA D3 level.


  1. Amherst College
  2. Williams College
  3. Pomona-Pitzer Colleges
  4. Trinity University — Texas
  5. Occidental College

Top 100 NCAA D3 Football Colleges


There are just over 80 colleges that have football teams at the NAIA level. Fully funded teams can offer up to 24 scholarships per team. NAIA schools are still a good fit for student-athletes despite them not being a Power Five school. Student-athletes should have a few on their safety school list.


  1. Northwester College – Iowa
  2. Olivet Nazarene University
  3. University of St. Francis – Illinois
  4. Indiana Wesleyan University
  5. Concordia University – Nebraska

Top 100 NAIA Football Colleges


College is at least a 4-year journey for student-athletes. Not only that, student-athletes have a heavy workload. So, it’s important to research schools and make sure that it is the right fit athletically, academically, socially and financially before you commit to a school.

The guidelines below will help you decide if a school is worth your time.

• Athletic Fit – How often do you want to contribute to your team’s success? Is starting your dream or are you okay with making a small impact? Level of competition is something to think about when considering athletic fit.

• Academic Fit – Have you decided on a major? If not, is the school well-rounded enough where you have enough options to choose from when you are ready to decide? At the end of the day, you are in college to get at education.

• Social Fit – Are you use to being active in school? Checking out the clubs and organizations on campus can help you determine if a school may be a good fit socially. What about how far away is it from home? Do you think you will want to travel home frequently? These are some things recruits often forget to consider.

• Financial Fit – Families should expect to cover some, if not all of the cost of college for some of the years in school. Rather than focus on just the sticker price of colleges, learn to evaluate schools on your expected contribution. Make sure your family researches tuition early to see if it is a school you can afford without financial aid.

Sports in this article


Tags in this article

Issues & Advice NCSA