SmurfTurf Streaking!

Streaking is back in style in Boise. But is this 17-game home win streak in football a big deal?

Smurfturf Streaking!?

Always be careful in interpreting statistics. Numbers can be twisted nearly any way the person using them wants to twist them. You'll hear tons of statistics in the election campaigns coming up and lots of economic data that can be presented in whatever light the particular economist wants. Such it is with sports statistics. We know that Boise State's current home winning streak of 17 is the longest in the nation. I undertook this research to determine if this winning streak was a great feat—how does it compare with others in college football history? Remember that this number can be dissected and twisted several ways and I will shamelessly do so in as many ways as I can and then present my conclusion.

The 17-game home winning streak ties the longest such streak in modern Bronco history, which they also achieved in 1973-1975, but it is the longest since Boise State became a I-A football school in 1996. Boise State put together a 13-gamer which began in 1999 and ended with a loss to Washington State in 2000. The current home streak of 17 came on the heels of that loss to the Cougars, making the Broncos 30 of 31 on the Blue Turf of Bronco Stadium. Boise State also captured 11 consecutive at home in 1971-1972 and 10 straight home games in 1976-1978.

Next, it would be helpful to begin to compare the winning streak at Boise State to others in the Western Athletic Conference. The 17-game streak compares very well to other current WAC members, but it is well short of Fresno State's run of 26 consecutive home victories from 1987 to 1992, which included a tie. When you compare unbeaten, untied streaks, Fresno State still has 2 streaks of exactly 17, most recently from 1998-2001 and also from 1987-1990. Tulsa has the longest ever home winning streak among WAC teams, accumulating 19 from 1963-1967, and Louisiana Tech won 18 straight from 1989-1993. SMU put together a 16-game streak from 1934-1936. Hawai'i's longest such streak is 11 in the years 1988 and 1989. In Rice's 90-year history of Division I-A football, their longest is 12, while Nevada's longest home streak without a loss or tie is 10, UTEP's 10 and San Jose State 9. Thus, the 17-game streak would be tied for 3rd among WAC teams with the two Fresno State winning streaks.

What about the Mountain West Conference? Utah has the longest home winning streak among that conference's teams, winning 28 straight from 1928-1934. BYU, with its storied history, set a school record of 17 from 1989-1991. Wyoming is next with 14, followed by Air Force with 12, New Mexico and San Diego State with 10, then UNLV and Colorado State with 8 each. TCU, recently admitted to the MWC, has a high of 15 straight in its history.

Thus, the Broncos' streak of 17 seems to compare fairly well within the confines of these two conferences, tied for 4th with BYU and the 2 Fresno streaks. However, when you open it up to comparison against the entire nation, 17 begins to become a very small number. The longest streak ever? That would belong to Princeton, who won an amazing 75 consecutive home games from 1887 to 1900, and that extended to 119 games from 1869-1900 when you include the one tie that the Tigers had in 1886. The Crimson Tide of Alabama are next, winning 58 straight from 1963-1982. The rest of the top ten: Harvard—56 (1890-1895), Miami, FL—55 (1985-1996), Carlisle—53 (1901-1915), Pennsylvania—52 (1889-1896), Michigan—(1901-1907) and Yale (1886-1895) with 50 each, Nebraska—47 (1991-1996) and Princeton—43 (1868-1886). Boise State's streak is tied for no better than 104th in college football history, tied at 17 with 32 other teams. The Broncos need 9 more consecutive home wins to be ranked among the top 50 and 12 more to be included in the all-time top 25.

So, while by the streak is a nice thing to talk about, it is actually miniscule from a historic standpoint. Even comparing modern records (1950-2003), the Broncos' streak is only 43rd. Add ten more to it, and then it will have true meaning. For now, despite being the nation's longest, it means little outside the state of Idaho. But you still might hear a statistician refer to it from time to time…

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