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College Football Streaks: Part Two
by Larry Ness - 08/12/2004
In this second part of my three-part series of CFB streaks, I'll preview teams that will be entering the 2004 college football season with the nation's longest current winning streaks. On Friday, I'll preview those teams with the longest current losing streaks. On to the winners and some comments regarding their 2004 prospects:
Miami-Ohio of the MAC enters the 2004 season on a 13-game winning streak, the longest current streak of any Division 1-A school. Led by Ben Roethlisberger (now a member Pittsburgh Steelers), the Redhawks won their final 13 games of the 2003 year after an opening game loss at Iowa (21-3). Winning is nothing new for the other Miami, as 2003 was the school's ninth consecutive wining season, yet 2003 was Miami's first MAC title after a 16-year drought and the school's GMAC Bowl appearance was its first since 1986!
The Redhawks will be a formidable team once again in 2004, but without Big Ben at QB the team's 13-game winning streak is all but doomed! They open with a home game but then visit Ann Arbor on September 4th. Miami's record since 1994 vs. Big Ten teams is just 3-9 straight up. All three wins during that time have come against Northwestern, while in the nine losses the Redhawks have been beaten by an average of 17.7 ppg! If the Redhawks somehow escape Michigan with a win, the very next week they would face a serious let-down spot playing at bitter-rival Cincinnati. The Bearcats are a much improved team in 2004 and were bowl-bound in 2000, 2001 and 2002. More trouble awaits Miami in its MAC opener on September 29. That night (Wednesday) they will visit Marshall, a team that had its run of seven consecutive bowl games snapped at seven last year. From 1997 through 2002, Marshall went 38-1 straight up (20-10-1 ATS) on its home field and is considered by many to be the favorite this year to win the league.
Boise State enters 2004 on an 11-game winning streak. The last two seasons, the Broncos have cruised through league play by winning all 16 games. In 2002, they outscored their WAC counterparts by the average score of 51.1-13.9 and in 2003 the margin was 46.9-17.9! The school's three-year WAC totals stand at 22-2 straight up in conference play, with an ATS mark of 18-6.
The Broncos return only three offensive starters in 2004, losing outstanding QB Ryan Dinwiddie (61.9 31-7), 1,000-yard rusher David Mikell (1142 / 13 TDs) and leading-receiver Tim Gilligan (67-1192). The Broncos' 2004 schedule however, is very favorable. They play just four road games (they'll be favored in all) and their three toughest games are all at home, where the Broncos own the nation's longest current home winning streak at 18 straight.
The team's first test comes at home on September 11 vs. Oregon State, a team that gave Boise its only loss in 2003 (26-24 at Oregon State). The Broncos will be primed for revenge and get an added break by the fact that Oregon State will have played the week before at LSU, the defending national champions! What can't be ignored, however, is Boise State's 0-9 straight up record all-time vs. Pac-10 teams!
The final two Saturdays of October, Boise State will host its two chief WAC rivals, first Fresno State and then Hawaii. The Fresno State game provides us with what could be a special moment. The Broncos could very well be undefeated when they meet (assuming a win over Oregon State), meaning the Broncos would enter this game on a 17-game overall winning streak and a 22-game home winning streak. College football fans may remember that back in 2001, Boise State went into Fresno as 16-point underdogs and beat the Bulldogs that night 35-30, ending the Bulldogs' 17-game home winning streak! If college football fans don't remember, you can be assured that Fresno fans do!
USC owns the nation's third-longest winning streak at nine games! Pete Carroll has done a remarkable job at USC. After a 6-6 first year in 2001 and a 3-2 start in 2002, Carroll has led the Trojans to 19 wins in their last 20 games, going 18-2 ATS! The team's only loss during that span was a triple-overtime game at Cal last year (34-31)!
QB Matt Leinart (63.4 38-9) is back and will make a serious run at the Heisman, and although USC is no longer known as Tailback-U, the Trojans have three RBs (White, Dennis and Bush) that will combine to give them one of the nation's finest running games! Leinart's receiving corps will not be as good as last year but Mike Williams may yet get back on the field. As for the defense, there were significant losses but the team is loaded with NFL-caliber players!
USC will face a tough test when they open the college football season on August 28th vs. Virginia Tech in Washington, DC (BCA Football Classic). Tech is always a dangerous underdog but this is a team that lost its best player in RB Kevin Jones and has suffered from the off-field problems of QB Marcus Vick. It also should be pointed out that Frank Beamer's team collapsed down the stretch in 2003, losing four of their final five games (only win was a 24-23 win against Temple).
On November 6, USC could be tested at Corvallis, where Oregon State has gone 29-4 straight up since 1999, but it's hard to ignore this fact; Oregon State has been outscored 1,102-340 by USC with only one straight up win over the Trojans in the last 36 years! Assuming the Trojans don't get tripped up by Virginia Tech, a win in their game at home vs. Cal on October 2 could put them in position for another run at the National Championship.
Cal is a dangerous team led by highly-regarded head coach Jeff Tedford and owns one of the nation's finest passing combos in QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Geoff McArthur. Cal also returns nine defensive starters this year but expecting them to win at the Coliseum where USC will enter this year on a 15-game winning streak (11-4 ATS), with the memory of Cal's triple-overtime win last year dominating the atmosphere, it seems far-fetched!
LSU, winner of last year's BCS title game over Oklahoma, opens the 2004 season with college football's fourth-longest winning streak (eight games). LSU covered seven of those eight wins, led by the nation's stingiest defense. LSU finished the year allowing just 11 ppg, 67 ypg rushing and 252 ypg of total offense! This year's defense may not be quite that dominating but they won't be chopped liver either! Offensively, LSU will have to find a new QB plus replace its top-two receivers but RB Justin Vincent is destined for stardom.
It's unlikely however, that LSU will make it to mid-season without a loss. They play at Auburn on September 18th and visit Athens and Gainsville in the first two weeks of October. Auburn's got a great defense and a super-star RB in Carnell Williams, as well as a 22-5 straight up home record since 2000, that includes 31-7 and 34-17 wins over LSU.
Georgia was beaten twice by the Tigers last year, including 42-0 in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs will be primed for revenge when the Tigers visit Athens with a team loaded with returning starters, a veteran QB in David Greene and an excellent defense. Georgia enters the 2004 season with a 14-game home winning streak.
The Gators have gone 8-5 in each of the last two seasons but no trip to Gainsville is a walk in the park and QB Chris Leak proved last year in beating LSU in Baton Rouge 19-7 (LSU's lone loss of 2003) how dangerous he can be.
One final winning streak that hasn't already been mentioned belongs to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State enters this year with 16 consecutive home wins, just ahead of USC (15) and Georgia (14) and two wins behind Boise State.
The Buckeyes will no longer have master-winner Craig Krenzel at QB, but in Ross and Hall they have an excellent pair of RBs. Last year, Ohio State's rush defense (64.2 ypg) ranked behind only LSU's, and despite returning just four starters, they will once again have one of the nation's best defenses.
On October 9, the Buckeyes will welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to Columbus. It won't be lost on Ohio State that last year in Madison, the Badgers beat the Buckeyes 17-10, ending Ohio State's 20-game winning streak! A win over the Badgers most probably means the Buckeyes will enter their season-ending home game with Michigan on a 21-game home winning streak, as besides Wisconsin, Ohio State will host only Cincinnati and Marshall out of conference and Indiana and Penn State in conference (5-19 combined record in 2003) prior to the Wolverines.