After an impressive two-year run of dominating opponents, UCF’s 25-game win streak finally came to an end on Tuesday as the Knights fell to the LSU Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl. UCF’s critics across the nation were thrilled, as many took to social media to proclaim their happiness that the Knights’ run of relevance is finally over.
But if history tells us anything, it’s that UCF is just getting started. I took a look at the six college football win streaks this century that lasted longer than the Knights’ and how those teams performed in their next 20 games.
The results were very clear. Once you win enough games in a row, there’s simply no going back to being irrelevant. Of the six teams I analyzed, none of them had a winning percentage lower than 75% over their next 20 games, and four of them were back in a BCS/NY6 Bowl within the next two seasons.
Here’s a closer look at each team:
Win Streak: 34 games (2000-2003)
Next 20 Games: 16-4
Miami’s historic win streak came to an end halfway through the 2003 season. But that didn’t stop the Hurricanes from finishing on a high note, ending the year with four straight wins. In the 2004 season, the team saw only a minor drop off, finishing 9-3 with a Peach Bowl victory and a No. 11 AP ranking
Win Streak: 34 games (2003-2005)
Next 20 Games: 17-3
USC’s win streak ended in a similar way as UCF’s, with the Trojans falling in the National Championship game of what would have been their second straight undefeated season. But that didn’t stop USC from bouncing back right away, winning three straight Rose Bowls from 2006 to 2008. Their win streak had been over for five years before the Trojans first finished outside of the AP Top 25.
Florida State Seminoles
Win Streak: 29 games (2012-2014)
Next 20 Games: 15-5
Florida State also fell short of capping off consecutive perfect seasons when it was dominated by Oregon in the first College Football Playoff. But despite the big loss and Jameis Winston heading to the NFL, the Seminoles saw plenty of success over their next 20 games. They finished 10-2 in the regular season the year after that, making it to the Peach Bowl before falling to Houston. Florida State went on to win the Orange Bowl in an AP Top 10 season the year after that.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Win Streak: 26 games (2015-2016)
Next 20 Games: 19-1
In case you haven’t noticed, Bama has been a pretty dominant team in college football over the past few years. Since their win streak ended two years ago, the Crimson Tide have won a National Championship and will play for another one in a couple days. Isn’t it interesting how after Alabama’s win streak of comparable length to UCF’s ended in a comparably large game, no one declared that the Crimson Tide would fall apart as a program?
Win Streak: 24 (2012-2013)
Next 20 Games: 17-3
Ohio State’s win streak ended in about the most disappointing way possible, with the Buckeyes falling in their conference championship game and then losing again a few weeks later in the Orange Bowl. But that pair of gut punches did nothing to slow Ohio State down, as it went on to go 14-1 and win a National Championship the year after.
Win Streak: 24 games (2009-2010)
Next 20 Games: 18-2
UCF fans may have been outraged that their team didn’t get a shot at the Playoff, but let’s put everything in perspective for a moment. After having its 24-game win streak snapped, Boise State responded by finish 12-1 the year after that. And what bowl did the Broncos go to? The Las Vegas Bowl. UCF may not have a real shot at a national title, but at least it knows it will get into a New Year’s Six Bowl with a Top 10 season. Either way, the Broncos continued to dominate after their streak was snapped, boding well for UCF as a fellow Group of Five team.
Overall, one trend among these teams is very clear: they all keep winning. So as much as UCF’s haters may be celebrating now, it’s more than likely that UCF is here to stay as a national power for the foreseeable future.