Which Power 5 teams have the longest active winning streak in season-openers? The answers might surprise
Far too many teams like to ease into a college football season.
That might not be the case in 2020, however, as Power 5 conferences react and adjust to the pandemic by eliminating nonconference games.
Not all of those out-of-league altercations were gimmes — Alabama has notably opened against other Power 5 teams for years — but far too many were.
With each conference still deciding on its schedule, I started wondering what streaks might be in jeopardy if a cupcake is replaced by a conference contender in Week 1.
Interestingly, just 15 Power 5 teams have won at least 5 consecutive season-openers (2015-2019). Of those, 5 are in the Big Ten. So there’s a good chance streaks will be on the line when the B1G reveals its new conference-only schedule.
Just 5 of the 65 Power 5 teams, which includes Notre Dame, have won at least 10 consecutive season-openers (2010-2019).
Who are they? The list might surprise you.
From the top, these Power 5 teams have won the most consecutive season-openers.
1. Ohio State: 20*
The asterisk is notable as the NCAA wiped out all of OSU’s wins from 2010, including the 45-7 throttling of Marshall in Week 1.
On the field, the Buckeyes have taken care of business in every opener this century. They’re the only Power 5 team in America that can make that claim. Their last opening loss came in 1999, when they fell 23-12 to Miami.
The subsequent 20 victims haven’t always been a Who’s Who, however. Just 5 of those opponents were Power 5 teams, and only 1 was ranked.
2. Alabama: 18
The Tide’s last opening loss came in 2001, a 20-17 setback against No. 17 UCLA that spoiled the debut of Dennis Franchione.
Since then, just 4 opening opponents have managed to stay within 10 points of the Tide — and 2 of those lost by exactly 10.
Among the 11+ point blowout victims: 5 consecutive Power 5 teams, 3 of which were ranked.
3. Utah: 12
Let’s give the Utes a smaller asterisk. This streak started in 2008, when they were in the Mountain West.
Who did they open against? Michigan. That counts.
That Utes team proceeded to beat everybody else on their schedule too, including No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
The past 9 opening victories have come as a member of the Pac-12.
Pitt and Michigan again are among those who were in the way.
4. Michigan State: 11
Let’s give MSU’s ADs some credit for setting the mood. None of the 11 opening opponents were from the Power 5 and only 1 — No. 24 Boise State in 2012 — was ranked.
5. Maryland: 10
No way anybody would have guessed the Terps would be part of this list.
The Terps were 50-74 in the 2010s, but they won every opener.
Even crazier, they once beat Miami and twice beat ranked Texas teams in an opener. Those Terps teams finished 2-10, 4-8 and 5-7, respectively.
Longest active streaks by conference
Some already are above, but by conference:
- ACC: Syracuse (6 years)
- B1G: Ohio State (20 years*)
- Big 12: TCU (6 years)
- Pac-12: Utah (12 years)
- SEC: Alabama (18 years).