UCF started the 2018 season with 13 straight wins — what was the record for the longest active FBS win streak at the time. But even if the Knights had another perfect season in 2018, they still wouldn’t crack the Top 10 longest win streaks.
In the history of the sport, only 11 teams have managed to win at least 30 games in a row. At the bottom of that list is Texas, which strung together 30 from 1968-1970. Then there’s Pennsylvania (1896-98), Pittsburgh (1914-18), and Oklahoma (1948-50), all with 31 wins.
Here, we’ll look at the seven teams with the longest win streaks in FBS history:
T6. Penn — 34 (1894-96)
Pennsylvania may play in the FCS now, but John Heisman’s alma mater ruled college football’s top division in the late 19th century. From 1890 to 1899, Penn went 124-14-2, for a win percentage of .893. That included nine straight seasons of at least 11 wins. More importantly, it held two straight perfect seasons in 1894 and 1895 and a 14-1 campaign in 1896 to string together 34 wins in a row. After a 6-4 loss to Lafayette in October of 1896, Penn would win its next 31 games — a streak that is tied for the 8th longest of all time. Combine the two periods, and you have a record of 67-2-0 over five years. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dominant stretch of college football than that.
T6. Miami — 34 (2000-03)
Of all the streaks in the Top 10, more came in the 1800s than the 2000s. Miami, in the early 21st century, is the only school to string together 30 wins this millennium. The streak started under Butch Davis, who finished out his career with the Hurricanes with 10 straight wins after a Week 2 loss to Washington in 2000. After a Sugar Bowl win over Florida, Davis left for the NFL and Larry Coker took over. In Coker’s first year, Miami had its first perfect season since 1991, going 12-0 and winning the school’s fifth national championship with a 37-14 victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. That 2001 team was powered by a defense that featured Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanon, and more, holding opposing teams to a FBS-leading 9.8 point per game, while the offense — spurred by Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Frank Gore, and others — averaged 42.7, the third-most that year. Yeah, that’s a slightly dangerous combination.
5. Toledo — 35 (1969-71)
In Frank Lauterbur’s first six seasons, he posted a 25-32-2 record. Not exactly inspiring. The 1968 season itself ended with three straight losses. Then came three perfect seasons in a row. Leading that streak on the field was quarterback Chuck Ealey, who passed for 5,000 yards and 42 touchdowns in three years with the Rockets. After Lauterbur left for Iowa following the 1970 season, assistant John Murphy coached the Rockets to a 12-0 record in 1971.
T3. Yale — 37 (1887-89) and Yale — 37 (1890-93)
Were it not for Princeton, Yale would be the number one school on this list by a mile. For context, let’s take a quick look at exactly how dominant the school was in its early days. Yale started its football program in 1872 with a 1-0 season, thanks to a 3-0 win over Columbia. From 1872 to the end of the century (28 seasons), Yale went 226-13-12. They only lost 13 games in 28 years. That’s a win percentage of .924. Not bad. That reign also included two separate streaks of 37 straight wins in just six years (no other school has two streaks of at least 32 wins in its program history. Yale outscored its opponents 330-6 (including nine shutouts) going into the final game of the 1893 season. But an undefeated Princeton team managed a 6-0 win. After losing to Harvard on November 22, 1890, Yale lost to only that 1893 Princeton team until losing to Princeton again on November 21, 1896 — one loss in almost six years.
2. Washington — 40 (1908-14)
After a stint at North Dakota Agricultural College (now North Dakota State) Robert Gilmour Dobie left for a head coaching job at Washington. Over the next nine seasons, he would compile a 58-0-3 record, including 40 straight wins from 1908 to 1914, breaking Yale’s two records for the longest winning streaks in college football history.
1. Oklahoma — 47 (1953-57)
Three years after the 31-game winning streak, Oklahoma was at it again. The Sooners started the season with a 28-21 loss to No. 1 Notre Dame, then tied 7-7 with unranked Pitt. Over the next 1,505 days, Oklahoma would not lose or tie another game. The Sooners would win national championships in 1955 and 1956 before the streak came to an end in the eighth game of the 1957 season against — you guessed it — Notre Dame. After the 1963 season, Bud Wilkinson, who coached Oklahoma through both the 31- and 47-game winning streaks, would retire with a 145-29-4 record (.826 win percentage) through 17 years in Norman.