Ah, yes, the unofficial slogan of the state of Nebraska.
In case you haven't heard, the Nebraska Cornhuskersare one of only three teams to win 9 or more games in each of the past six years. The other two teams to do so are the Oregon Ducks and the Alabama Crimson Tide. A lot of Nebraska fans are proud to hang their hats on this feat and happy to hear their beloved team mentioned in the same breath as Oregon and Alabama, but is it really something to be proud of? That's what we are here to find out.
Now let me get this out in the open right away: I'm not a Bo Basher, nor am I a Bo Backer. I believe there are many coaches better for the head coaching job here, but none of them are exactly available right now. I'm still very much on the fence about Bo, I don't know what to make of him yet.
And don't get me wrong, getting 9 wins every year is okay, but I, like many other fans of this great team, want to see us take the next step. So, I wanted to take a closer look at the 9+ win situation to see how valuable these seasons really are.
The first question that popped into my mind when hearing this was "How hard is it exactly to get a 9 win season?" So, I looked at final standings for each of the past six seasons to see how many teams in all of Division 1 FBS football reached 9 or more wins:
- 2013: 39 out of 126 FBS schools (30.95%)
- 2012: 38 out of 124 FBS schools (30.65%)
- 2011: 34 out of 120 FBS schools (28.33%)
- 2010: 33 out of 120 FBS schools (27.5%)
- 2009: 34 out of 120 FBS schools (28.33 %)
- 2008: 35 out of 120 FBS schools (29.17%)
These results give us a total of 213 seasons of 9+ wins recorded by FBS schools. Out of a total of 730 total seasons played, that gives us a total percentage of 29.18%.
So, all in all, you have just under a 30% chance of recording one 9+ win season in today's college football. One thing I noticed was how in the past two years, as FBShas added six more teams, the percentage of 9+ win teams was above 30% both years. We can't, however, conclude that it is getting easier to win 9 or more games in college football by this data because the percentage difference is very slight. Then a though occured to me: not all college football teams are created equal. Schools in BCS Automatic Qualifying (AQ) Conferences are typically much stronger than their non-AQ counterparts. So I did the same excercise again but only included AQschools with 9+ win seasons.
(Note: The Big East, aka American Athletic Conference, will be included in this exercise, as will Notre Dame)
- 2013: 28 out of 73 AQ FBS schools (38.36%)
- 2012: 23 out of 69 AQ FBS schools (33.33%)
- 2011: 23 out of 67 AQ FBS schools (34.33%)
- 2010: 21 out of 66 AQ FBS schools (31.82%)
- 2009: 22 out of 66 AQ FBS schools (33.33%)
- 2008: 26 out of 66 AQ FBS schools (39.39%)
The total: 143 seasons of 9+ wins out of a possible 407 seasons, for a percentage of 35.15%.
The first thing to jump out to me was how much higher the percentage was when we calculated the volume of 9+ win seasons of only AQ teams, which was to be expected. So we can say that an AQteam like Nebraska will record a season with 9 or more wins roughly 35% of the time. For Nebraska to be one of three teams to do it EACH of the past six years seems like an accomplishment indeed.
But what really shocked me is when I compiled a list of every team to have at least one 9+ win season in the last six years. I listed every team as well as the numberof wins each team had in each of the past six years and each team's total win countduring the same period of time. 84 different FBS teams have recorded at least one 9+ win season over the past six years. 84! That takes a lofof stellar out of a 9 win season when just about everyone can put one up in a six year period. Also, I got to thinking, what happens if we play withthe parameters a little bit? How many teams have won 8+ games in each of the past six years? How many teams have won 9+ games in five of the last six years? So I played around with this chart for a little bit.
The first thing i looked like is total wins over the last six years. While we are only one of three teams to win 9+ in each of the last six years, where do we stand in total wins over the last six years? Here's a ranking of every team in order of most wins in the last six years.
- Alabama, 72 wins
- Boise State, 69 wins
- Oregon, 67 wins
- Ohio State, 63 wins
- Oklahoma, 63 wins
- Florida State, 61 wins
- LSU, 61 wins
- Northern Illinois, 59 wins
- Oklahoma State, 59 wins
- Stanford, 59 wins
- TCU, 58 wins
- Nebraska, 57 wins
- Michigan State, 57 wins
- Virginia Tech, 57 wins
Wow. In all of FBS, there are 11 schools that have more wins in the last six years than we do. Sure, being tied for 12th is still good, and there are quite a few well known football programs we beat out, like Florida (56 wins), USC(56 wins), Texas (hell yes)(55 wins), Clemson, Georgia (54 wins each), and plenty of others. But if we are one of three schools to win 9+ games each of the last six seasons, shouldn't we be in or at least close to the top three? I mean, the other two schools who have done it are in the top three. Along with Boise State, who won 9+ games in five of the last six seasons.
Ah yes, that's what I looked at next. How many schools are so very close to the same feat that Nebraska, Oregon, and Alabama have accomplished? This is a list of schools who have won 9+ games in five of the last six seasons, and how many games they won in that elusive season. It's shocking how many teams were just one win away from joining Nebraska, Oregon, and Alabama in their accomplishment.
- Boise State, 8 wins in 2013
- Oklahoma, 8 wins in 2009
- LSU, 8 wins in 2008
- Oklahoma State, 8 wins in 2012
- Florida State, 7 wins in 2009
- Ohio State, 6 wins in 2011
- Cincinnati, 4 wins in 2010 (yes, every other year they won 9 or more, but had that horrible year somehow.)
That takes A LOT of the luster away from Nebraska. Even all the schools in that list have accomplished more than Nebraska has in the past six years. There are 10 more schools who won 9+ in four of the last six seasons also, that group highlighted by Virginia Tech, USC, and Wisconsin, who all had one 7 win season and one 8 win season to be only three games away from joining Nebraska's group. Some of us who like to hang out hats on this accomplishment make it sound like a far more exclusive club than it really is. Change the results of six college football games over the last six years and all of a sudden the population of this club is 8.
We keep comparing ourselves to Oregon and Alabama but this is such a horribly horribly WRONG comparison to make! Those teams are ELITE, we are not. Alabama has won 3 National Titles over this time span, and Oregon has at least been to won, but both have won conference championships, we have not. The following is part of an excellent fan post written by"thehobodownthestreet" that sums up the comparison nicely.
Welp, I figured, I look at how many teams with a winning percentage of .500 or above, Nebraska, Oregon and Bama have beaten over the last six years. I need an abbreviation for, "over the last six years", lets use, "OLSY", yeah, sounds great, and fuck it. Anyways, enough rambling, lets get to the numbers.
- OLSY the avg. winning percentage of teams Oregon has beaten is .477
- OLSY the avg. winning percentage of teams Bama has beaten is .531
- Nebraska, again is .452.
So, while we are last amongst those schools, is not that bad. So, what is the OLSY avg. winning percentage for teams that have beaten either, Bama or Oregon? To the numbers!
- OLSY avg. winning percentage for teams that have beaten Oregon is, .837
- OLSY avg. winning percentage for teams that have beaten Bama is, .877
- Nebraska, again is, .728
There is a bit of a gap there. What that shows me is, It takes really good teams to beat, either Bama or Oregon, and it takes fairly good teams to beat Nebraska. This numbers, to me are far more telling. While doing my research, add to the fact, that neither Bamaor Oregon has loss to a team that finished the season with a winning percentage under .500, like Nebraska has. In fact, neither Oregon or Bamahave loss to a team withless than 8 wins in a season. Nebraska has loss to a team with only 7 wins.
But here comes the most important part of this test. I counted how many FBSteams with a winning percentage of .500 or above have Nebraska, Oregon and Bama beaten in OLSY. To the numbers!
- Oregon has beaten a total of 31 and loss 12. Giving them a .720 winning percentage against, FBSteams with .500 or higher winning percentage in OLSY.
- Bama has beaten a total of 39 and loss 9. Giving them a .812 winning percentage against, FBSteams with a .500 or higher winning percentage in OLSY.
- Nebraska hast beaten a total 28 and loss 24. Giving them a .538winning percentage against, FBSteams with a .500 or higher winning percentage in OLSY. Basically, whenever Nebraska plays a good team, is a coin flip whether they will win or lose.
These numbers pretty much tell it all. We don't beat good teams like Alabama, Oregon, or any of the teams with a higher six year win total than us. Even teams with a lower six year win total than us are much better than us. Up until the UCLA home and home, Nebraska's non-conference schedules have made the SEC non-conference schedules look hard. I'm glad to see Nebraska trying to improve non-conference schedules by scheduling home and home's with the likes of Miami, Oklahoma, and, ironically enough, Oregon.
In the end, it's up to you to decide what these 9 win seasons mean for Nebraska football. The way I see it, Their meaning has been drastically reduced by seeing how many teams are just so close to the same feat, and seeing where we rank in total wins for the past six years. Look at the losses we have taken though, how many blowout losses we have suffered at the hands of teams we should have beat, how many turnover riddled games that we could have won if we could have just hung on to the football, and how many scares we have all endured by almost blowing games to teams that are much worse than we are (looking at you, Wyoming). The people who hang their hats on this achievement take pride in the "consistency" of the Bo Peliniera, but the ugly truth is, there is nothing consistent about these Husker teams. We have spent 50 weeks ranked under Pelini and 31 weeks unranked. That's only 62% of the time we are ranked. We have only finished one season ranked in the top 20; 2009 where we had the #1 defense, finished the season ranked #14, and had the Boy Named Suh. However, we have steadily been declining since those days, finishing last year unrankedeven after a decent bowl win over a banged up and underwhelming Georgia team. Throughout my research I have discovered just how little our past six years really mean in the big picture. I guess people just use the "accomplishment" as a way of holding onto the idea that Nebraska football is still nationally relevant, but the sad truth is, it's not.