One of the recaps I read of Iowa’s win Saturday mentioned that the Badgers were the one team in the West that any Hawkeye on the roster hasn’t beaten. Iowa had beaten Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State since the Big Ten started playing nine conference games, but didn’t knock off the yang to their yin until this year. Those are the streaks that frustrate the fanbase, that get alumni paying large buyouts, that seniors implore freshman to snap.
But we’re not focusing on Iowa anymore.
In 2004, as part of a 9-0 start Wisconsin knocked off Minnesota to claim Paul Bunyan’s Axe. They’d keep it until just before the final seconds of the home finale in 2018, a 14 game streak. Let’s answer some questions to help put that in context. I “borrowed” sports-reference’s CFB history from Princeton-Rutgers to LSU stomping Clemson. If you want to play along, here’s the data I’m using. It’s the longest streak of dominance by one team over another before the other team got comeuppance in each series. In other words, if you squeaked out one tie, who cares.
No moral victories.
How Does 14 Wins Stack Up?
OK, so in the history of college football? A sport known for powers built on insane fan bases, coaches and wealth playing against basketball schools and academic powerhouses in conference? It puts you at a tie for No. 105. Which is a very meaningless number. 105 is close enough to double-digits to be frustrating, but in the long history of college football feels important. Importantish?
On one hand, 37 of those streaks featured conferences that aren’t in the FBS (Brown, ugh) or no longer exist (shoutout the Big 8, Big 7 and Big 6). Let’s use that idea as a jumping off point.
How Does 14 Wins Stack Up... Since 1978?
Still not super great. With apologies to Yale ruining Harvard’s 1880’s, here’s a breakdown of the last game that continued a win streak happened.
Streaks Broken By Decade
Sometimes, those streaks are still active, like Ohio State over Indiana. Other times, they’ve been snapped like Michigan over Indiana.
Wait, Indiana is historically not great, but those other two schools are.
How Does 14 Wins Stack Up Between... Similar Blood-Colors I Guess?
You know, like blue bloods win all the time? Win percentage is what I’m trying to get at. Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Nebraska all show up eight or more times on the better side of this ledger. Iowa State, Kansas, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Northwestern, Tulane, Indiana, Kansas State and Kentucky show up eight or more times on the worse side. That’s because those first teams are historical powers, and the second group are largely woeful. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
This is why I threw in (total wins) / (total games) for both teams and calculated the difference, and then we’re getting somewhere. 14 wins is tied for No. 18 when the winner has an all-time win percentage no more than 5% higher than their victim. What’s nice is we’re getting closer to the most important question left.
How Does 14 Wins Stack Up Between I Hate That Team So Much
The other 14 win streaks with similar historical records? Pittsburgh over Penn State, Duke over NC State and Yale over Princeton. We’re actually finding some rivalries now, where actual emotions come in instead of whatever I felt after the Indiana streak was broken this year.
A Selection of Seething Hatred
|Colorado State||Colorado Mines||15||10/12/1935|
|Duke||North Carolina State||14||10/27/1962|
|Fresno State||San Jose State||12||11/5/2005|
|North Carolina||North Carolina State||11||10/19/1940|
|Brigham Young||Utah State||10||10/2/2009|
Aside from Alabama-Clemson, which I added because it amused me, there’s a lot bad blood here. Combine that actual hatred with recency and relative historical quality, and Wisconsin’s 14 straight wins over Minnesota is second, only behind...
Ahh crap, really? Iowa over Wisconsin? God the 80’s were awful.