Northwestern first in 'Academic BCS'

Northwestern finished No. 20 in the BCS standings and will play in a New Year's Day bowl game as a 9-3 team.

That's impressive. Maybe even more impressive is the Wildcats finished No. 1 in the "Academic BCS."

That's the term for the New America Foundation’s annual academic performance rankings of all Top 25 teams. The foundation uses not just graduation rates and NCAA APR scores but also stats such as a team's graduation rates compared to the overall male student body, how a team’s graduation gap between black and white players compares to the general student body and the graduation rate for black players vs. that of black male students in general.

With all those categories scored, Northwestern finished No. 1, ahead of Northern Illinois, Boise State, Stanford and Notre Dame.

Nebraska was No. 8, while Michigan finished 21st. According to Time magazine's Keeping Score blog:

"On the flip side, look at the team from Michigan, a school with a strong academic reputation, yet finishes near the bottom of these rankings. While Michigan graduates 88% of its students, only 59% of Wolverine football players get their diplomas. While the black-white graduate gap on the football team is only four points worse than black-white gap for all male students, just 47% of Michigan’s black football players graduate, compared with 70% of Michigan’s black male students overall."

The study tracked only those teams who finished in the Top 25 of the BCS standings, so Ohio State, Wisconsin and other Big Ten teams weren't included.