Ohio Schools Boast Nation’s Longest NCAA Winning Streaks
By Matt Natali
COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the birthplace of football, Ohio is a gridiron hotbed and several Ohio colleges are living up to that billing this season.
The Buckeye State boasts the longest winning streaks in the country in Divisions I, II, and III, respectively. And having sifted through the NCAA record books and consulted with several sports information professionals, this appears to be the first time in college football history that the longest winning streaks in each division reside in the same state at the same time.
Ohio State, Ohio Dominican and Mount Union are each 10-0 this season and are representing Ohio’s rich football tradition and history in the best way they can — by winning.
“It’s pretty amazing to see these streaks,” said Todd Oliver of OhioCollegeFootball.com. “It’s great for Ohio. I think you’re seeing a lot of purity in the sport. Everyone makes each other better. Right now, we should take this and celebrate.”
The Ohio winning streaks don’t necessarily surprise Oliver, though.
“The success goes back to expectations,” he said. “There are high expectations and that is why (the schools) are where they are at right now. The expectation is to win championships.”
Furthermore, each school is experiencing success with coaches who have been at their respective schools for no more than four years.
“They are recruiting the best at their levels," Oliver said. "They get (the players) to believe and are getting the kids to buy into what they are doing. They are masters at that.”
Ohio State’s winning streak stands at 22 games, and the Buckeyes have not lost a game since Ohio native Urban Meyer started roaming the sidelines in Columbus last season.
Meyer was made aware of the three winning streaks during his weekly press conference on Monday and said he is proud of that success as an Ohioan.
“I didn't realize that about those other schools,” he said. “You live in a cubbyhole, drive to work, sit in dark rooms all day long. That's great for those two schools. That’s outstanding. I didn’t know that.”
Ohio State's 60-35 win over Illinois last week tied the record for the school's longest winning streak at 22. With another win this week over Indiana (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) in their home finale, the Buckeyes will break the school's record for consecutive wins set from 1967-69 under head coach Woody Hayes. During that span, the Buckeyes won the 1968 Rose Bowl and national championship.
Ohio State’s current streak is the longest in the Big Ten in the last 44 years and is tied with Hayes' winning streak as the fifth-longest in the history of the conference. Michigan holds the Big Ten record with 29 straight wins (1901-03).
A win over the Hoosiers would also extend Ohio State's winning streak over Indiana to 18 games.
Meyer is the first Division I coach to have three winning streaks of at least 20 games, with 23 straight wins at Florida (2010), 22 at Florida (2008-09) and Ohio State, and 20 combined at Utah and Florida (2003-05).
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings and fighting to climb into one of the top two spots for a chance to play for a national championship.
Located less than 10 miles from Ohio State, Ohio Dominican has a 15-game winning streak that is the longest in Division II.
The Panthers finished their regular season undefeated last week with a 40-13 win over Malone College at the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Fawcett Stadium in Canton. The win clinched an outright Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for Ohio Dominican, marking the first conference title for the Panthers since joining the league and Division II four years ago.
The Panthers have outscored opponents, 629-244, during their streak, winning by an average of 25.7 points per game
Ohio Dominican’s marquee win this season was a 57-14 throttling of Grand Valley State, which was ranked ninth in the nation in the Division II AFCA Coaches Poll at the time. Grand Valley State, a perennial power, has four Division II national championships and owns the longest winning streak in Division II history, winning 40 straight from 2005-07.
The Panthers are ranked No. 7 in the country in the Division II AFCA Coaches Poll and are a No. 2 seed in the NCAA playoffs. Ohio Dominican has a first-round bye this week and will host the winner of No. 3 seed Indianapolis versus No. 6 seed West Texas A&M on Nov. 30, at 1 p.m.
In the short history of the 10-year program, Ohio Dominican has now gone undefeated twice in the regular season to reach the postseason. The Panthers reached the NAIA quarterfinals in 2007.
Ohio Dominican welcomed head coach Bill Conley after joining Division II four years ago and Conley is 28-15 with the Panthers.
“I think it speaks volumes for Ohio football,” Conley said of the winning streaks. “Some of the very best high school football programs in the country are in the Midwest, especially in Ohio. Even though the population base is not as big as California, Florida or Texas, the quality has remained top of the line.”
Winning streaks are nothing new for Conley. He was a player on the Ohio State 1968 national championship team during its school-record winning streak and was a recruiting coordinator for the Buckeyes in 2002 when they finished 14-0 and won the BCS national championship.
Conley was named the GLIAC Coach of the Year this week while 20 of his players earned all-conference honors.
The Mount Union Purple Raiders are the defending Division III national champions and the top-ranked team in the country in the Division III AFCA Coaches Poll as the owners of a 25-game winning streak.
Mount Union, which is located in Alliance — about 20 miles from the Pro Football Hall of Fame — completed its eighth straight undefeated regular season last week with a 42-34 win over John Carroll to wrap up its 22nd straight Ohio Athletic Conference championship.
Among Division III schools, the Purple Raiders are ranked second in the country in total offense (545.7 ypg), second in passing efficiency (187.29), third in scoring offense (49.3 ppg), and fourth in total defense (227.2 ypg). Mount Union also leads the country in third down conversions with a 63.3 percent success rate.
Head coach Vince Kehres is in his first season at the helm for Mount Union, but won two national championships as a player (1996, 97) and eight as a defensive assistant coach for the Purple Raiders. He joined his father, Larry Kehres, as the only Mount Union coaches to go 10-0 in their first season as head coach.
The Purple Raiders will make their 25th NCAA playoffs appearance when they host Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) College in the first round of the playoffs Saturday at noon.
Mount Union has advanced to the national championship Stagg Bowl 16 times in the last 20 seasons and has won a record 11 national championships. The Purple Raiders own the Division III record for the longest winning streak of 55 games from 2000-03. The program also won 110 consecutive regular season games from 1994–2005, including 54 straight from 1996-99.
Not To Be Overlooked
Other Ohio teams also earning berths in the Division III playoffs include Springfield’s Wittenberg (9-1) and University Heights’ John Carroll (9-1). It is the 16th playoff appearance in school history for Wittenberg and the fourth for John Carroll, respectively. Wittenberg senior quarterback Reed Florence was selected as the North Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year this week
Heidelberg (8-2), located in Tiffin, finished the season No. 18 in the final coaches poll. In a 42-12 win over Baldwin-Wallace last week, running back Cartel Brooks set the NCAA all-division rushing record with 465 yards on 38 carries. He is the third-leading rusher in the country in Division III.
Back in Division I, Bowling Green (8-3), Ohio (6-5), and Toledo (7-4) of the Mid-American Conference have qualified for bowl games with at least six wins apiece. On the losing end in Ohio, Akron, Kent State, and Miami (Ohio) have a combined 8-26 record this season.
Cincinnati, of the American Athletic Conference, is also bowl eligible at 8-2.
For The Record
North Dakota State has won the past two FCS national championships and currently has a 19-game winning streak for the longest streak at the FCS level. The Bison had a notable 24-21 win over Kansas State in their season opener.