Last night, Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs broke one of sports' longest-standing curses, defeating the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling, 10-inning, rain-delayed Game 7 to win their first World Series title since 1908. For a college football perspective on this drought, in the 1908 season:
- The Penn Quakers won the national title
- The University of Chicago Crimson won the Big 9, as the then-eight-member Big Ten was known at the time
- Touchdowns were worth five points, and field goals were worth four
- Kansas went 9-0. Yeah, that Kansas.
- Harvard had an All-American tackle in Hamilton Fish III, who would later serve 13 teams in the House of Representatives and be known as a prominent isolationist and opponent of Franklin Roosevelt in the run-up to World War II
- Washington & Jefferson University became the first team to wear numbers on their uniforms in a game, a claim that is disputed by Pitt, which... why, Pitt. Why would you argue about this?
- Taysom Hill was a freshman at BYU
What I'm saying is, it's been a while. Now that the ghost of the billygoat or whatever has been exorcised, what taboos remain in sport? What barriers are left to fall? What lands remain for Alexander to conquer?
Well, I think you'd be surprised. College football has its own wealth of Cubs-worthy streaks. Let's review!
KENTUCKY WILDCATS vs. FLORIDA GATORS
This annual Sisyphean Southern Saturday tradition took over the top spot just recently, as Penn State's 31-game winning streak over archrival Temple was broken in 2014. The Gators have taken 30 straight over the Wildcats, a run that occasionally teases at an end but never manages to break through. The Wildcats are improving - on the cusp of bowl eligibility this year - and anything can happen in conference play - but this one'll probably hang on a few more years at least.
IOWA STATE CONFERENCE TITLES
Forever the black sheep in major conference college football, Iowa State has a title drought that rivals that of their erstwhile Midwestern baseball counterparts: the Cyclones have not won a conference title since 1912, when they won the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association - a precursor to the Big Eight and later Big 12. Given the recruiting disadvantages compared to their more well-heeled conference mates (and competition from cross-state rival Iowa for recruits), this one looks likely to persist well into its second century.
NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES BOWL APPEARANCES
A fringe program desperately clinging to life in the FBS, New Mexico State has the ignominious honor of the longest streak since appearing in a postseason bowl game: the Aggies haven't made the trip since the 1960 Sun Bowl (a win over Utah State). This one would appear on the surface to have a decent shot of ending - although NMSU is 2-6 this year and unlikely to win out to achieve eligibility, the sheer number of bowl games creates a much lower threshold to surmount than some of our other streaks here.
The real danger to the Aggies' hopes, though, is their very persistence in the top division: after being cut free by the Sun Belt, they'll enter 2017 as an FBS independent, a difficult position for a team without a major national brand.
INDIANA HOOSIERS AP POLL RANKINGS
They've shown flashes of success in the last couple years, carrying a 4-4 record this season, on the heels of last year's Pinstripe Bowl appearance. Still, the Indiana Hoosiers hold the current record for longest streak among major conference teams since their last appearance in the AP rankings, dating back to the September 20, 1994 poll, where they snuck in at #25. (If we expand to all of FBS, the honor goes to Louisiana-Lafayette, who hasn't been ranked since 1943, but that just seems unfair to bring up.)
The Hoosiers may not be beating down the door of the playoff any time soon, but with Kevin Wilson getting them on the right track in recent years, and an annual schedule that includes games against Purdue, Rutgers and Maryland, it's not out of the question that they could string together an 8-4 season in the near future and crack the rankings.
BRIAN KELLY HAS NOT POOPED SINCE 2012
He thought it would be a motivational tactic. In the wake of Notre Dame's crushing loss to Alabama in the 2013 BCS title game, he swore to his players that he wouldn't do it until they returned to the title game. Some balked. "Coach, that... that doesn't make sense." "You can't do it." "Why would you even suggest such a thing, you weirdo?". He cut those players. They were only going to stand in his way.
The doctors told him he'd be dead in a month. He fired the doctors.
His family pleaded with him. Brian, please: you have to stop this. It's killing you. It's killing our family. It's weird and gross, Brian. Please. Poop.
Notre Dame is currently 3-5.