Hot Reads: The Race to 900 Wins
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Hot Reads: The Race to 900 Wins

August 13, 2019

There are always some record-scratch moments every offseason. There you are, whiling away the time until the season starts, maybe listening to something nice. Maybe its the "40 Greatest College Football Marches" as performed by the "world-famous University of Michigan Band" under the direction of William D. Revelli and released in 1982 by Vanguard ("Recordings for the Conoisseur"). That's what I listen to most in August.

Anyway, you're drumming along and then you see a story, list or ranking and the quite lovely "Maine Stein Song" is interrupted by that terrible sound. What is this?

Had that moment on Monday with Sports Illustrated's ranking of "The Greatest Programs in College Football History.” This was a countdown with no context provided and my record-scratch moment happened one team into the list.

Oklahoma led things off at No. 10. You can't put Oklahoma at No. 10. Just can't. Based on the NCAA's official counts in the 2019 record book, the Sooners rank seventh in all-time wins (896) and sixth in all-time winning percentage (.724). (The difference in the latter category between second and sixth is .003.) If you use that as even a starting point, how do you then downgrade the Sooners to 10th? Is it because of the Sooners' seven national titles (more than four schools above them)? Is it because they still own longest winning streak in college football (47 games)? Is it because they were the winningest team of the 1950s and 1970s, the only team other than Alabama to claim that title in two decades post-1950 (as far back as the NCAA Record Book chooses to go)?

You can't have Oklahoma at No. 10. I'd put the Sooners fifth to start and you could talk me in to fourth. And you definitely can't have the Sooners behind Tennessee because Tennessee doesn't belong on this list. I know the Volunteers rank in the top 10 in all-time wins, but when you start comparing their résumé to other teams in contention Tennessee's just isn't that impressive. But it is longer in some cases. What Florida State has done in 72 years of D-I football is more impressive than what Tennessee has done in 128 years. Maybe Miami (93 years), too. And if you really want to get into it, compare Tennessee and Georgia and try to pick one.

But I promised myself I wasn't going to get into this list any more than I already have. (Nebraska was seventh, by the way.) What I did want to get into––and something I noticed when looking up the official NCAA win totals to try to understand how teams ended up where they did––is that we've got a nice little horse race to start the 2019 season. 

Notre Dame, Nebraska and Oklahoma could all reach the 900-win mark before September is over. Who gets there first? 

Thanks to schedule and a head start (over Oklahoma) the Huskers are a big favorite here.

Nebraska enters the season with 897 all-time wins and should be a solid favorite in its first three games (South Alabama, at Colorado, Northern Illinois). Start 3-0 and Nebraska becomes the fifth program to win 900 games. It happens on Sept. 14.

Notre Dame, which the NCAA Record Book notes has had its record "adjusted by the NCAA Committee on Infractions," is also at 897 entering the year. But the Irish can't get there until Sept. 21 because the Irish have a bye week in Week 2. Notre Dame opens at Louisville, hosts New Mexico on Sept. 14 and, should it win those two, just has to beat Georgia in Athens on Sept. 21 to join the 900-win club. If that doesn't happen (and it probably won’t), the Irish host Virginia the following week and likely get there then.

Oklahoma needs four wins to reach 900. Home games against Houston and South Dakota to open the season should get the Sooners to 898 all-time wins. Then there's a trip to UCLA, which could be interesting but Oklahoma should be a solid favorite. But then . . . bye week. The earliest OU can reach 900 wins is on Sept. 28 by beating Texas Tech in Norman.

The Sooners will probably join the club then. Maybe at that point Oklahoma can be ranked ahead of Tennessee (838 all-time wins).

The Grab Bag

  • Junior college defensive lineman Jahkeem Green is officially a Husker.
  • The Huskers completed their Italy trip 4-0 with a win over Italian Select on Monday.
  • There’s a key trait the Huskers look for in tight ends and it might not be the thing you think it is.

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