The Longest Losing Streaks in College Football History

34 Games Lost is Nothing Compared to 80

Duke football
The Duke Blue Devils own two of college football's longest losing streaks. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

It's never fun to lose and when a team gets on a long losing streak, it can take a toll on players and fans. But what happens when a football team can't win a single game for a few seasons? That's when things really get tough and you have to appreciate each player's willingness to keep going.

In college football history, there are quite a few teams that had long losing streaks. While the teams and fans would like to forget these years, it is interesting sports trivia so let's look at the teams that didn't do so well.

The Longest Losing Streaks in FBS (Division I-A)

The Northwestern Wildcats own one record that they would probably like stricken from the record books. When it comes to Division I-A football, they hold the title for the longest losing streak in history.

Between 1979 and 1982, the Wildcats lost 34 straight games. That’s six more than their nearest competitors, the Virginia Cavaliers, who lost 28 (1958-1961) and the Kansas State Wildcats, who also lost that many (1945-1948).

Here are all of the FBS teams that have suffered through lengthy losing streaks of at least 20 games. 

 Consecutive LossesWhen Did It Happen?
Northwestern Wildcats34 games1979-1982
University of Virginia Cavaliers28 games1958-1961
Kansas State Wildcats28 games1945-1948
New Mexico State Aggies27 games1988-1990
Eastern Michigan Eagles27 games1980-1982
Colorado State Rams26 games1960-1963
Duke Blue Devils23 games1999-2002
Northern Illinois Huskies23 games1996-1998
Duke Blue Devils22 games2005-2007
Ball State Cardinals21 games1999-2000
South Carolina Gamecocks21 games1998-2000
Kent State Golden Flashes21 games1981-1983
New Mexico Lobos21 games1967-1969
Temple Owls20 games2004-2006
TCU Horned Frogs20 games1974-1975
Florida State Seminoles20 games1972-1974


The Longest Losing Streak in College Football History

You may not have heard of this losing streak because it didn't happen in Division 1-A, but Northwestern's stat sheet looks great compared to Prairie View A&M's record. In the 1990s, the football team from this small Division I-AA school in Texas lost 80 games in a row.

The Prairie View A&M Panthers had their program cut in 1990 due to a massive financial deficit. In June of that year, the  Houston Chronicle reported that $100,000 dollars was missing and many people in the athletic department, including the head football coach Haney Catchings, were indicted.

In 1991, the school brought football back despite the lack of scholarships and the next seven seasons did not see a single win. To make matters look even worse, in 1991 the Panthers scored just 48 points in the entire season (1992 was not much better, but they did get to 55 points that year).

After the 1997 season, the Panthers broke their losing streak and since the mid-2000s they have actually done very well. They even won the SWAC Conference Championship three years in a row from 2005-2007.

The small school's comeback is a harrowing one and it pays homage to the team's success in the black college championships of the 1950 and 60s. You really have to give it to those players that stuck out that long drought and played hard against some tough teams.