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How Does UCF’s Winning Streak Stack Up in College Football History?

Putting the Knights’ 25-Game Winning Streak into Perspective

NCAA Football: AAC Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it’s hard to put something into its proper historical perspective as it’s happening. I’ve been having that trouble with the UCF Knights’ 25-game winning streak.

College Football is weird. Its history is such a piecemeal landscape of eras and rules and regimes that it can be flat-out confusing. For example, there was a time when the Ivy League schools dominated the game because, well, they were the only ones playing the game.

Comparing winning streaks is one of the hardest things to do in this case.

The truly modern era of college football should start with 1978. That’s when the NCAA divided Division I into its two subdivisions - Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision or FBS) and Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision or FCS). That’s also when the NCAA revised the football scholarship limit from 105 down to 95 (Side note: They dropped it again to the current 85 in 1992).

By the way, if you think the process leading up to what we have now is contentious, just read this article about how the split went down.

Of course, there’s been some movement between the two when you look back at who was in D-IA when it started, but for the most part, the overwhelming number of schools who started in D-IA are still there.

The divide also coincides with start of ESPN in 1979, and follows its influence in the growth of college football as a sport.

So when looking at UCF’s current winning streak, I find it more helpful to start from there. Here’s how the Knights stack up:

Longest College Football Winning Streaks Since the Division I Split

Team Wins Years National Championships Head Coach(es) How It Ended
Team Wins Years National Championships Head Coach(es) How It Ended
Miami 34 2001-2003 2002 Butch Davis/Larry Coker #2 Ohio State, 31-24 (OT) in Fiesta Bowl (BCS Championship)
USC 34* 2003-2005 2003, 2004 Pete Carroll #2 Texas, 41-38 in Rose Bowl (BCS Championship)
Miami 29 1990-1993 1991 Dennis Erickson #2 Alabama, 34-13 in Sugar Bowl
Florida State 29 2012-2014 2013 Jimbo Fisher #2 Oregon, 59-20 in Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
Alabama 28 1978-1980 1978, 1979 Bear Bryant at #19 Mississippi State, 6-3
Nebraska 26 1994-1996 1994, 1995 Tom Osborne at #17 Arizona State, 19-0
Alabama 26 2015-2016 2015 Nick Saban #2 Clemson, 35-31 in CFP National Championship
BYU 25 1983-1985 1984 LaVell Edwards vs. #20 UCLA, 27-24
UCF 25 2017-Now 2017 Scott Frost/Josh Heupel ?
Data: Wikipedia/NCAA

*USC’s 34-game winning streak was officially wiped from the NCAA’s record books because of the Reggie Bush scandal. Still, we saw the games. They happened.

It’s still amazing to me to see UCF alongside some of the greatest teams I grew up watching - the early ‘90s Miami Hurricanes, the early 2000s Canes, the Leinart/Bush/Carroll Trojans, the Osborne/Frazier/Frost Nebraska squads. Bear Bryant’s Bama. And our UCF Knights.

I don’t know how the Fiesta Bowl will turn out, but even if the streak stopped on New Year’s Day, the verdict is clear:

What we have witnessed the last two seasons isn’t just the greatest UCF team of all time. It’s one of the greatest teams of all time, period.