The founder and managing editor of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, had officially given his take on the Big Ten’s cannibalization of expansion throughout college football.

And it’s not even really Silver’s “take,” per se. FiveThirtyEight doesn’t do takes. A quantitative analysis of athletic success, academic fit, and market desirability revealed that Oregon and Washington are “no-brainer” value adds for the Big Ten, should it wish to continue expanding west.

Silver dropped every current ACC school, every current Pac-12 school except the two already moving to the Big Ten, every current Big 12 school except the two already moving to the SEC, Missouri and Vanderbilt from the SEC, Notre Dame and UConn, and then four Group of Five schools (Cincinnati, Houston, Rice, and SMU) into a spreadsheet to get rolling. That’s 38 teams in total.

He then scored each school in three major categories on a 0-100 scale, giving a max of 10 points (with weighted multipliers) for various subcategories in each of the three major branches.

  • Sports: Recent and historical football performance, historical men’s basketball performance, total NCAA championships
  • Fit: Academic ranking (from here), AAU membership, enrollment, type of university, and then head-to-head games against current and incoming Big Ten members
  • Market: College football TV ratings, media market footprint, all-sport revenues, and popularity on Google Trends

Then he simply built a composite rating from the three major scores et voilà, a ranking of the best expansion candidates for the Big Ten based more on data than on talking points. (Of course, there is some subjectivity in the way the teams were selected. BYU was notably left out, which readers pointed out on social media as an oversight.)

Here were the top 10 teams in Silver’s final composite rating:

  1. Notre Dame, 73
  2. North Carolina, 68
  3. Oregon, 67
  4. Florida State, 65
  5. Washington, 65
  6. Clemson, 59
  7. Utah, 54
  8. Miami, 53
  9. Stanford, 53
  10. Cal, 52

Silver also offered the same analysis for the current and incoming Big Ten schools to provide some context. Oregon’s composite rating of 67 would put it just behind UCLA (69) and ahead of Iowa (66), Minnesota (61), Nebraska (57), and six other Big Ten schools. Rutgers brings up the rear with a score of 42.

Oregon scored fourth among the pool of schools in the athletic success category, 10th in the fit category, and third in the market category.

Washington scored ninth in the athletic success category, second in the fit category, and eighth in the market category.