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There are 29 undefeated teams left in FBS. How they got here, and where they're going

Here's something that will warp your brain: it's more difficult to go 0-12 than 12-0. As we pointed out earlier, only 11 teams over the past decade have gone 0-for-the-season, but 24 teams have put together perfect regular seasons. Already this year we've seen more than twice as many teams race out the gates than fall to the back of the pack.

That's not to say it's easy going 12-0, it's insanely difficult. And difficult as it may be, it's even harder to stick the landing. The two dozen 12-0 teams dwindles down to 10 when stretching the study to conference title and bowl games. Recording a perfect season is becoming even more impossible at the highest of high levels. While seven of the first eight BCS champions registered perfect seasons, only 2009 Alabama and 2010 Auburn have managed to hoist an umblemished crystal ball since.

While 29 teams have yet to feel the sting of defeat, at least 15 of these squads have that feeling ahead of them. We took a look at how they got here, and their chances of staying perfect.

American
Central Florida (3-0) -How many people outside of Knights fans and those reading this sentence right now even realize George O'Leary's team is 3-0? Get to 4-0, which entails beating South Carolina, and they won't have that problem anymore.
The road ahead: vs. South Carolina, at Memphis, at Louisville, vs. Connecticut, vs. Houston, at Temple, at Rutgers, vs. South Florida, at SMU

Outlook: If the Knights can somehow get to 6-0, there's no reason they shouldn't also get to 12-0. That's a very big if, though. 

Houston (3-0) - This time last year, Tony Levine was off to an 0-3 start in his debut campaign as Kevin Sumlin's replacement. Now, he's 3-0, in a new conference and 12 months away from playing in a new stadium. 
The road ahead: at UTSA, vs. Memphis, vs. BYU, at Rutgers, vs. South Florida, at Central Florida, at Louisville, vs. Cincinnati, vs. SMU

Outlook: UTSA will be anything but a pushover, but should be a win. Playing BYU, Rutgers, UCF and Louisville in a five-game span (last three on the road) will take its toll. 

Louisville (4-0) - It's got to be an odd challenge as a coach leading a team where anything less than a 12-0 season is a massive disappointment. I don't know how Charlie Strong feels about it, but I bet he'd say it beats the alternative.
The road ahead: at Temple, vs. Rutgers, vs. Central Florida, at South Florida, at Connecticut, vs. Houston, vs. Memphis, at Cincinnati

Outlook: There isn't a game on this schedule the Cardinals should lose. Back-to-back home games against Rutgers and UCF should be interesting. Everything else shouldn't. 

ACC
Clemson (3-0) - With a quarter of the schedule behind them, now it's about not stepping on a landmine between today and October 19 for Dabo Swinney's team. What happens October 19? Read below.
The road ahead: vs. Wake Forest, at Syracuse, vs. Boston College, vs. Florida State, at Maryland, at Virginia, vs. Georgia Tech, vs. The Citadel, at South Carolina

Outlook: At this point, it's about surviving and advancing until Florida State on October 19. If I had to put money down on Clemson's final record, I'd lean toward 11-1. 

Florida State (3-0) - With a quarter of the schedule behind them, now it's about not stepping on a landmine between today and October 19 for Jimbo Fisher's team? What happens October 19? Read above. 
The road ahead: at Boston College, vs. Maryland, at Clemson, vs. N.C. State, vs. Miami, at Wake Forest, vs. Syracuse, vs. Idaho, at Florida

Outlook: A slate of Maryland, Clemson, N.C. State and Miami makes for a pretty interesting month. Can you count on a freshman quarterback to play flawless football once the opposition's talent level rises? I think the 'Noles trip up at least once. 

Georgia Tech (3-0) - Blasting Elon and Duke is par for the course for Paul Johnson's program. If you don't have the athletes to stop the Yellow Jackets, you don't stand a chance. But grinding out a soggy win over a more talented North Carolina team? That's the stuff you build on. 
The road ahead: vs. Virginia Tech, at Miami, at BYU, vs. Syracuse, at Virginia, vs. Pittsburgh, at Clemson, vs. Alabama A&M, vs. Georgia

Outlook: Like North Carolina, every game from here on out will be a grind. Georgia Tech won't go undefeated, but a Coastal Division title will be within reach with wins in the next two weeks. 

Maryland (4-0) - Maryland isn't the best team in the country, but no one should feel better about how they've played than Randy Edsall's bunch. Four wins - already matching last year's total - and three of them are blowouts. Coming off their best game yet, the Terps now have two weeks to prepare for a trip to Tallahassee.
The road ahead: at Florida State, vs. Virginia, at Wake Forest, vs. Clemson, vs. Syracuse, at Virginia Tech, vs. Boston College, at N.C. State

Outlook: Let's hope the Terps take a minute to enjoy life at 4-0 before walking into Doak Campbell Stadium next Saturday. 

Miami (3-0) - I don't think Miami is good enough or mature enough as a program to go 12-0. But I can't help but notice the only ranked team left on the schedule is Florida State, and that's not until November 2. That should reinforce what a potentially game-changing win that triumph over Florida was.
The road ahead: at South Florida, vs. Georgia Tech, at North Carolina, vs. Wake Forest, at Florida State, vs. Virginia Tech, at Duke, vs. Virginia, at Pittsburgh

Outlook: They'll slip up at some point, but there isn't a game left on the Hurricanes' slate that can't be won. 

Big Ten
Michigan (4-0) - Brady Hoke's team can teach the folks at Ringling Bros. a thing or two about tightrope walking after surviving the torrential onslaught of Akron and Connecticut. A week off before the Little Brown Jug game should be enough to fix a broken offense. Right?
The road ahead: vs. Minnesota, at Penn State, vs. Indiana, at Michigan State, vs. Nebraska, at Northwestern, at Iowa, vs. Ohio State

Outlook: Give a Notre Dame effort every week, and Michigan could be 11-0 when Ohio State comes to the Big House. Give Akron and UConn efforts, and the Wolverines could easily be 7-4. 

Minnesota (4-0) - This marks the second straight year Jerry Kill's team has started 4-0. The 2012 squad went on to lose seven of its final nine games. For his sake, here's hoping this year's bunch avoids a similar fate.
The road ahead: vs. Iowa, at Michigan, at Northwestern, vs. Nebraska, at Indiana, vs. Penn State, vs. Wisconsin, at Michigan State

Outlook: It's been 10 years since a Minnesota team won eight games. That feels like an appropriate goal. 

Northwestern (4-0) - A 35-21 snoozer over Maine will provide a number of teaching points for Pat Fitzgerald's staff, but it doesn't matter. For a team that thinks it should have gone undefeated last season, September was all about getting to October 5 unblemsihed. Now that that's accomplished, a nationally televised primetime game with Ohio State (with College GameDay possibly in Evanston to boot) is next on the schedule.
The road ahead: vs. Ohio State, at Wisconsin, vs. Minnesota, at Iowa, at Nebraska, vs. Michigan, vs. Michigan State, at Illinois

Outlook: The powers-that-be did Northwestern a huge favor by putting the Wildcats in the division opposite Ohio State and Wisconsin. Steal one of these next two weeks, take two of three against Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State, take care of business elsewhere and Northwestern will be in Indianapolis with a shot at the Rose Bowl. 

Ohio State (4-0) - For a team that will likely already struggle with strength of schedule perception, playing a non-conference slate that's won exactly zero games to date against FBS competition isn't going to help come early December. But, who's got better quarterback depth than Urban Meyer's bunch?
The road ahead: vs. Wisconsin, at Northwestern, vs. Iowa, vs. Penn State, at Purdue, at Illinois, vs. Indiana, at Michigan

Outlook: Braxton or no Braxton, I think Urban Meyer suffers his first loss on Saturday. Anything worse than 10-1 heading to Ann Arbor is a massive disappointment. 

Big 12
Baylor (3-0) - With a three-game tote board that reads 209-23, what else can you really say that the scoreboard already doesn't? And considering Baylor's Big 12 slate starts with the bottom half of the conference, it may be November before we see Art Briles' team punt on consecutive possessions.
The road ahead: vs. West Virginia, at Kansas State, vs. Iowa State, at Kansas, vs. Oklahoma, vs. Texas Tech (at Arlington, Texas), at Oklahoma State, at TCU, vs. Texas

Outlook: The party should continue until OU comes to town on November 7. Then the sledding gets tougher. A 4-1 mark in the final five game would be a great finish. 

Oklahoma (3-0) - A revamped coaching staff, a defense that morphed from mediocre at best to surprisingly dangerous, and an offense that seemed to figure things out with the insertion of Blake Bell at quarterback, Bob Stoops' squad is starting to play like a team that can do more than just outgun you.
The road ahead: at Notre Dame, vs. TCU, vs. Texas (at Dallas), at Kansas, vs. Texas Tech, at Baylor, vs. Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State

Outlook: We'll finally learn something about this team Saturday in South Bend. Like the team above and below them, there isn't a game on the schedule OU doesn't have at least a 50-50 shot in. 

Oklahoma State (3-0) - Hard to imagine a top 12 team flying more unnoticed (at least for what's happened on the field) than Oklahoma State. And that's just the way Mike Gundy likes it. We're talking about a coach who thought about leaving because he's so against playing a non-conference game that even be remotely challenging. 
The road ahead: at West Virginia, vs. Kansas State, vs. TCU, at Iowa State, at Texas Tech, vs. Kansas, at Texas, vs. Baylor, vs. Oklahoma

Outlook: Of the Baylor/OU/OSU trio, I'm least confident in OSU's ability to go undefeated, but I'm still taking the Pokes to take at least a share of the Big 12 crown. 

Texas Tech (4-0) - Uncertain at quarterback, the Red Raiders will have to rely on their stout defense to remain undefeated and inside the top 25. Yep, exactly how everyone drew up Kliff Kingsbury's first season as a head coach.
The road ahead: at Kansas, vs. Iowa State, at West Virginia, at Oklahoma, vs. Oklahoma State, vs. Kansas State, vs. Baylor (at Arlington, Texas), at Texas

Outlook: A 7-0 start would be a major accomplishment for this young staff. Tech will struggle once the heavyweights arrive, but nine wins is a possibility. 

MAC
Northern Illinois (3-0) - Let me get this straight. A team that no one had any problem with ranking in the top 15 as recently as last December, whose only misstep in the interim was not being as good as Florida State, and who returns the bulk of its roster including all-everything quarterback Jordan Lynch, suddenly isn't good enough to get within spitting distance of the top 25? Does this make zero sense to anyone else, or is it just me?
The road ahead: at Purdue, at Kent State, vs. Akron, at Central Michigan, vs. Eastern Michigan, at Massachusetts, vs. Ball State, at Toledo, vs. Western Michigan

Outlook: A 12-0 record is certainly possible, and that's what it would take for people to notice this team. 

Mountain West
Fresno State (3-0) - I wrote about this all last week, and now that they've beaten Boise State, it's true: there's not a game left on Tim DeRuyter's schedule where his team won't be at least a touchdown favorite. Now how do they handle success?
The road ahead: at Hawaii, at Idaho, vs. UNLV, at San Diego State, vs. Nevada, at Wyoming, vs. New Mexico, at San Jose State

Outlook: We've talked about 12-0 more with this team than any other, but that defense has to improve or Fresno's unblemished record won't make it out of November. 

Pac-12 
Arizona (3-0) - I believe Arizona has improved from last year, but a non-conference diet of Northern Arizona, UNLV and UTSA isn't very persuasive. Thankfully, a flight to Seattle to play Washington should make things more clear by Saturday night.
The road ahead: at Washington, at USC, vs. Utah, at Colorado, at California, vs. UCLA, vs. Washington State, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State

Outlook: It wouldn't surprise me if Arizona was 8-0 when UCLA comes to Tucson. It also wouldn't surprise me if they're 3-1 after Saturday night. 

Colorado (2-0) - It's likely the Buffaloes only remain on this list thanks to an assist from Mother Nature in getting the Fresno State game postponed, but we'll never know. What we do know, however, is this bunch finally looks like a cohesive football team again under Mike MacIntyre. 
The road ahead: at Oregon State, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State, vs. Arizona, at UCLA, at Washington, vs. California, vs. USC, at Utah

Outlook: Two things: 1) Let's enjoy this while it lasts, 2) Let's focus on ending that eight-game Pac-12 losing streak.

Oregon (3-0) - The gap in total offense and scoring offense between No. 1 Baylor, No. 2 Oregon and the rest of the field is wide enough for Puddles and his entire flock to drive a motorcycle through. 
The road ahead: vs. California, at Colorado, at Washington, vs. Washington State, vs. UCLA, at Stanford, vs. Utah, at Arizona, vs. Oregon State

Outlook: I don't give this out often, so you folks in Eugene better savor it: I'm giving Oregon the Zach Barnett 12-0 Stamp of Approval. Someone in the Ducks' athletics department let me know where to mail it. 

Stanford (3-0) - The Cardinal played one half Saturday evening against Arizona State that was as good as anyone in college football is capable of playing, and one half that David Shaw and his staff will spend the entirety of this week talking about.
The road ahead: at Washington State, vs. Washington, at Utah, vs. UCLA, at Oregon State, vs. Oregon, at USC, vs. California, vs. Notre Dame

Outlook: I just said I think Oregon goes 12-0, which means Stanford doesn't. I love their chances at 11-1, though. 

UCLA (3-0) - I'll go ahead and declare Jim Mora's team the most underrated in the entire country. Is there anything the Bruins can't do? With a schedule that requires back-to-back trips to Palo Alto and Eugene, we're sure to find out.
The road ahead: at Utah, vs. California, at Stanford, at Oregon, vs. Colorado, at Arizona, vs. Washington, vs. Arizona State, at USC

Outlook: Having to visit Stanford and Oregon in consecutive weeks is just cruel. I think the Bruins will meet Oregon again in early December. 

Washington (3-0) - Fresno State's defeat of Boise State likely takes some of the shine off Washington's 38-6 season-opening triumph, but it shouldn't. Fresno State survived the Broncos, Steve Sarkisian's squad punished them.
The road ahead: vs. Arizona, at Stanford, vs. Oregon, at Arizona State, vs. California, vs. Colorado, at UCLA, at Oregon State, vs. Washington State

Outlook: Washington is basically the epitome of the Pac-12's depth. The Huskies could easily be 3-4 after October 19 - and still one of the 25 best teams in the nation. 

SEC
Alabama (3-0) - Here's how infinently challenging it is to go undefeated: for as good as Nick Saban's four championship teams at LSU and Alabama were, only one of them managed to win every game on its schedule. The Texas A&M game left questions of just how far the back end of the Crimson Tide defense has fallen, but the rest of Alabama's schedule, plus its explosive offense, raise another inquiry about whether it will even matter.
The road ahead: vs. Ole Miss, vs. Georgia State, at Kentucky, vs. Arkansas, vs. Tennessee, vs. LSU, at Mississippi State, vs. Chattanooga, at Auburn

Outlook: There's no LSU-A&M one-two punch like last year that can catch Alabama wounded. That said, I think LSU wins its second straight trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. 

LSU (4-0) - When's the last time LSU went this deep in a season ranking 21 spots higher in yards per play on offense (ninth) than defense (30th)? It's hard to say whether Cam Cameron or John Chavis has done a better job through the first four weeks, but they've both earned their collective $2 million salary so far.
The road ahead: at Georgia, at Mississippi State vs. Florida, at Ole Miss, vs. Furman, at Alabama, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Arkansas

Outlook:I think Georgia removes the Bayou Bengals from this list on Saturday - but I think LSU wins out until the two meet again in Atlanta. 

Missouri (3-0) - Gary Pinkel's team closes October with three straight games against ranked opponents, so it's likely they won't stay on this list for long. But with three wins behind them and at least four winnable games ahead of them, Missouri has a real chance to show last season's 5-7 showing was an aberration and not the start of a trend.
The road ahead: vs. Arkansas State, at Vanderbilt, at Georgia, vs. Florida, vs. South Carolina, vs. Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss, vs. Texas A&M

Outlook: There very well may be two unbeaten teams in the SEC left after Saturday, and one of them will be Missouri. The Tigers don't have a gimme left on the slate, but seven wins is a safe bet. 

Ole Miss (3-0) - Last week we ranked Hugh Freeze as the No. 1 head coach exceeding expectations so far this season. Earn a win Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, and Freeze's team will earn votes as the No. 1 team in all the land. Hard to believe this team was the SEC West's doormat as recently as 2011, isn't it?
The road ahead: at Alabama, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M, vs. LSU, vs. Idaho, vs. Arkansas, vs. Troy, vs. Missouri, at Mississippi State

Outlook: It won't be enough, but Ole Miss will knock Alabama off its feet once or twice on Saturday night. I expect to see Ole Miss on my television come New Year's Day. 

Independents
Navy (2-0) - Should Navy get worn down later in the year, and with no off weeks between September 28 and November 22 it's certainly possible, Ken Niumatalolo won't have his conference office to blame. But for now, with wins over Indiana and Delaware and two bye weeks, the Midshipmen should be well-rested for Western Kentucky on Saturday.
The road ahead: at Western Kentucky, vs. Air Force, at Duke, at Toledo, vs. Pittsburgh, at Notre Dame, vs. Hawaii, vs. South Alabama, vs. Army

Outlook: 12-0 won't happen, but Navy should hoist the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the ninth time in 11 years.