Indiana @ Northwestern: Battle for most losses ever!
The Northwestern Wildcats have held the record for most all-time losses for some time, but is now tied with the Indiana Hoosiers at 632 - and coincidentally enough, the two teams face off this Saturday in a battle to not be the worst ever.
I bring important news: after this Saturday, the Northwestern Wildcats might no longer hold the distinction of having the most losses in college football history.
The matchup of the Northwestern-Indiana is more than just a modestly uninteresting Big Ten matchup this year. Both teams have 632 overall losses, as pointed out to me by commenter GTom, to whom I owe a trillion thanks. That means the loser of this week's matchup will be the new record for the the losingest squad ever.
As we all know, Northwestern has long been the losingest team in NCAA history. It's a fact we've all internalized at this point, along with the fact Northwestern has the most consecutive losses in FBS history. But Northwestern has had six wins or more each of the past five years while Indiana hasn't had a winning season in that time frame. So the Hoosiers have had a run of failure sufficient enough to catch up to the Wildcats, entering the season with 631 losses. NU is 4-0, Indiana has been 2-1, and thus, it's 632-632 in the overall losses battle. (NOTE: Although Indiana lists themselves as having 627 losses in their yearbook, an opponent-by-opponent breakdown by @crash_land revealed that the tally is in fact 632. Props to him, and boo/Medill F to Indiana for the inconsistency.)
If you look at the tale of the tape, Northwestern has easily been the better team historically: Northwestern has a comfortable lead in the head-to-head all-time matchup over Indiana, 45-34-1, has eight conference championships while the Hoosiers only have two, and has a better all-time winning percentage - Northwestern is .439 all-time, Indiana is .419. But Northwestern began playing football 11 years earlier and has played 43 more games. Doing the math and adding to the numbers here, Northwestern is 493-632-44, while Indiana is 450-632-44. (Yes, they've both tied 44 games, too.)
Northwestern lost the honor of having the most losses in Division I in 2009, when the Virginia Military Academy took over, but they're an FCS team. The Keydets have 645 losses overall. They're 1-3 this season and been steadily losing nine or so games a year with no real signs of getting better, so Indiana will have to derail to catch VMI for the overall title.
To be honest, it's likely that regardless of who wins, Indiana will end the season with more losses - they seem like a worse team, all things considered - and unless Kevin Wilson turns things around, it's something they might have for a while. But regardless this sorta puts an entire new level to this game, which previously just seemed like it was just about starting off the Big Ten season with a win and remaining undefeated on the season. Now, it's about BEING NOT THE WORST TEAM OF ALL TIME, which would be nice. Especially since you consider that with the ability for FBS teams to schedule an FCS team every year, it doesn't seem like anybody's getting to the most consecutive losses streak, so this might be the last vestige of crapitude we can plausibly get rid of. I almost find it weird nobody's mentioned it before someone commenting on my site, but whatever.