Winningest – and losingest – Power 5 programs this century and past decade

On3 imageby:Mike Huguenin04/19/22


Achieving success can be tough. Sustaining success is even harder. But what about sustained failure? We will, in a way, delve into both sides of the equation today as we look at the winningest and losingest Power 5 programs this century and over the past decade (2012-21).

Truthfully, even a casual fan won’t be surprised at the winningest Power 5 programs, nor a few of the losingest. But there still were a handful surprises on both sides. Here’s a closer look.

By the way, the only non-Power 5 program in the top 10 this century or in the past decade was Boise State. The Broncos have the second-best winning percentage this century and the sixth-best of the past decade. (Win totals from school websites as well as and, both of which are gems.)

This century, top 10

TeamWin percentageRecord
1. Ohio State.836235-46    
2. Oklahoma.818239-53    
3. Alabama.779229-65    
4. Georgia.759220-70
5. LSU.750213-71
6. Clemson.742216-75
7. Oregon.724202-77
8. USC.711197-80
9. Wisconsin.705201-84
10. TCU.702193-82

+ We do not consider “vacated” victories. Of the numerous – so, so numerous – stupid things the NCAA does/has done, vacating victories is near the top. Our take: If the game was played, someone won and someone lost. (We chuckled at this: keeps a list of vacated wins, and files it under its “Frivolities Index.”)

+ Ohio State has had 17 seasons with double-digit wins this century; there was one losing season (6-7 in 2011, which sandwiched 11-win seasons in 2010 under Jim Tressel and 2012 under Urban Meyer). There have been two national titles (2002, 2014).

+ Oklahoma has not had a losing record this century; indeed, the fewest wins in a season is eight (three times). The Sooners have had 18 seasons with double-digit victories. There has been one national title, in 2000.

+ Alabama has won six national titles this century, in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15, ‘17 and ’20. Given the era, it is unquestionably the most impressive run in college football history. There have been three seasons with losing records this century (one each under Mike DuBose, Mike Shula and Nick Saban) and 16 seasons with double-digit wins – including the past 14 in a row.

+ Georgia has had one losing record this decade, a 6-7 mark in 2010. There has been one national title (in 2021) and 14 seasons with double-digit victories (10 of those came under Mark Richt, the other four under Kirby Smart).

+ LSU has three national titles this century – each under a different coach (Saban in 2003, Les Miles in 2007 and Ed Orgeron in 2019). There has been just one losing season (2021) and 11 with double-digit victories.

+ Clemson has had one losing season this century (6-7 in 2010, the same season as Georgia’s lone losing record in the same span) and has won two national titles (2016, ’18). There also have been 11 seasons with double-digit wins. That is the Tigers’ current streak – they didn’t have a season with double-digit wins this century until 2011.

+ USC is the other team in this top 10 with a national title this century – two, in fact (2003 and ’04). There also have been three losing records and 11 seasons with double-digit wins.

+ Oregon and Wisconsin have had 12 and 10 seasons, respectively, with double-digit wins, and each has had one losing record this century.

+ TCU hasn’t been a Power 5 program for the entire span; if you take TCU off the list, the Power 5 team that moves in is … Texas. The Longhorns’ winning percentage is .692 this century (193-86).

This century, bottom 10

TeamWin percentageRecord
10. Iowa State.447122-151 
9. Rutgers.433116-152
8. Arizona.431113-149
7. Syracuse.414110-156
6. Colorado.412110-157
5. Illinois.37498-164
4. Indiana.36996-164
3. Vanderbilt.33889-174
2. Duke.32787-179
1. Kansas.30680-181

+ Kansas won 12 games in 2007 and eight in ’08. That means fully 25 percent of their wins this century came in two seasons. The most the Jayhawks have won in a season since ’08? Five in ’09.

+ Perhaps the most illustrative stat about the barren wasteland that is Vanderbilt football is this: The Commodores have had seven winning seasons in the past 50 years. They had back-to-back winning records under James Franklin in 2012-13 – and 20 percent of their wins this century came in those two seasons. (An aside: Vandy has had three winning SEC records in the past 50 years.)

+ Almost a third of Iowa State’s victories this century (39) have come in the past five seasons under Matt Campbell. He has guided the Cyclones to five winning seasons in a row. The last time that was done? Try 1923-27, when Iowa State was 4-3-1 in each of those five seasons. The next time someone says, “Well, what has he really done?’ feel confident in saying he got the Cyclones off the mat and now has them in the middle of the ring throwing real punches.

+ Colorado was 10th nationally in winning percentage in the 1990s (.742). This century? The Buffs have had just five winning seasons; they had four seasons with double-digit wins in the ’90s.

+ Indiana has had three winning seasons this century – and those three years (two of them under current coach Tom Allen) accounted for 22 percent of the Hoosiers’ wins (21) in that span.

Past 10 seasons, top 10

If the span is the past 10 seasons, the team at the top changes but most of the top 10 remains the same – eight schools are in the top 10 this century as well as the past decade. USC and TCU fall out for the decade, and Notre Dame and Oklahoma State move in.

TeamWin percentageRecord
1. Alabama0.908128-13
2. Ohio State0.900117-13
3. Clemson0.877121-17
4. Oklahoma0.817107-24
5. Georgia0.791106-28
6. Notre Dame0.75897-31
7. Wisconsin0.72193-36
8. Oregon0.71791-36
9. LSU0.70990-37
10. Oklahoma State0.69890-39

+ Alabama and Clemson have had double-digit wins in each of the past 10 seasons. They also have combined for six of the past 10 national titles. The others were won by Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State. (An aside: Florida State’s winning percentage in the past decade is .669, which is 12th among Power 5 programs. The Seminoles currently own a streak of four consecutive losing seasons.)

+ The only teams in this group with a losing season in the past decade are LSU (in 2021) and Notre Dame (2016). The Irish have rebounded with five consecutive seasons with double-digit wins, the longest such streak in school history.

Past 10 seasons, bottom 10

Comparing the bottom 10 over the past decade to the bottom 10 this century means five teams move in – Arkansas, California, Maryland, Oregon State and Purdue. Moving out are Arizona, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State and Syracuse.

TeamWin percentageRecord
10. California0.41748-67
9. Maryland0.41048-69
8. Arkansas0.40249-73
7. Vanderbilt0.38847-74
6. Colorado0.37644-73
5. Oregon State0.37344-74
4. Purdue0.364443-75
3. Rutgers0.363644-77
2. Illinois0.33139-79
1. Kansas0.15418-99

+ Arkansas might surprise some folks. But from 2017-20, the Hogs won 11 games total. And they won just seven in the first two seasons of this span (2012-13).

+ Kansas, on the other hand, should surprise no one. The most wins in a season in this span is three and the Jayhawks won zero or one four times. Hey, at least there’s KU basketball.

+ Oregon State had a seven-win season in 2021. The Beavers had won a total of 16 games in the previous six seasons.

+ Illinois has had a losing record in each of the past 10 seasons.