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Worst of the 21st: Morton Regional Final

A game neither team deserves to win

How can the bagmen be so bad given the political culture in these states?

I gotta admit. This is starting to wear on me.

Holy cow are these teams bad. 2 FBS wins between them, neither over a team worth a damn. Maybe, just maybe, we can find inspiration in realizing that shitty football has always been with us. What, ANOTHER Illinois team? Whatever. Roll tape.

Today’s honorees bring us to the end of our pre-2000 celebration of bad football. Soon enough you will examine a terrible 2012 Illinois team and decide whether they were among the four worst B1G teams of the 21st century. And I’m here to tell you that however bad you think they were, they are national championship caliber compared to their 1997 counterpart.

That’s right, 1997 Illinois is the last B1G team to go completely winless. Now, yes, several teams since then were winless vs. FBS opposition, and they deserve all the chastisement they’ve received (more, even). Still, there’s something to be said for just not winning a game. True, two of their three non-conference opponents finished the season ranked (Southern Miss, and Pac-10 champ Washington State), but their other non-conference game was a 26-14 loss to Louisville. Louisville went 1-10 on the year.

You go winless and give some other team their only win? You’re a terrible team. If you demand numbers, the -12.96 SRS says this is the worst B1G team in the last 30 years.

In B1G play, they were held to 10 or less in six of eight games. Not so hard to understand how they finished last in the NCAA, averaging only 10.8 PPG, huh? But let me tell you one other thing. Illinois did this DESPITE NOT PLAYING 1997 Michigan Wolverines. You know, the co-national champs who led the country in almost all defensive categories. Illinois was spared a game against the best B1G defense in the last 30 years, and still were the worst offense in America.

By comparison, the 3-9/0-8 performance of 1998 Northwestern seems like no big deal. But, it’s pretty simple. If you go winless in conference play, you get mentioned here. Plus, when you look at their season, it sure looks like Gary Barnett had one foot out the door. The last four conference games were losses by 26, 24, 35, and 31 points. Yes, the Wildcats ended the season with a win @ Hawaii, but that Hawaii team went 0-12. Which is a nice bookend to Northwestern’s season-opening win over a UNLV team that finished 0-11. So, yes, NW won three games on the year, but two of them were essentially forfeits.

Congrats on beating 5-6 Rice, though. Really. Way to go.

Finally, let’s close things out by honoring one of the steadiest programs in the B1G over the last 40 years. Iowa only landed one team in the field, and if we did a 1980-1999 tournament, this would be the only Iowa team to get a nod, but oh my did the 1999 Iowa Hawkeyes earn their way here.

Kirk Ferentz’s first team went 1-10/0-8 and notched their only win over Northern Illinois (who went 5-6; this is before NIU was good). They lost to an Iowa State team that finished last in the Big 12 North, and had five losses by 24 points or more, including a 35 point drubbing at the hands of Nebraska (those were the days, huh Husker fans?) and a 41-3 loss to Wisconsin where they got to see Ron Dayne set the rushing record (though I’m sure Coach Ferentz has made the necessary adjustments to slow down UW’s rushing game by now, right?).

Feel purified yet?

Thus ends the work of the Old-Timer’s committee. Which is good, since they’re huffing paint thinner trying to numb the pain at this point.


Which "achievement" is more hilarious?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Um, going winless, c’mon!
    (192 votes)
  • 18%
    Not one, but two wins over teams that went winless.
    (55 votes)
  • 18%
    Losing to your in-state rival (pre-el Assico) when they’re headed for last place too
    (57 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now



Look, I could give you some prose telling you how bad these teams were, but the numbers are enough. This is like two closers matching fastballs in the late innings. Or two big-servers just trading aces. Or two heavyweights trading blows. Neither team is going to blink. They each will just stand there and take shots to the face. Like either has any offense to speak of.

This will likely come down to the wire, and it’s probably just a matter of who makes the last mistake.

And just in case you dabble, the O/U is 9.5.

(2) 2012 Illinois Fighting Illini 2-10/0-8 (1-10 vs. FBS)

SRS -10.35: #107 of 124 (B1G ranked #4 conference)
16.7 PPG: #122 of 124 (14.2 vs. FBS)
32.1 Opp. PPG: #95 of 124 (35 vs FBS)

(1) 2018 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 1-11/0-9

SRS -9.65: #106 of 130 (B1G ranked #3 conference)
13.5 PPG: #130 of 130
31.4 Opp. PPG: #89 of 130

  • W 35-7 vs. Texas State Bobcats (finished 3-9)
  • L 3-52 @ #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-1, #3)
  • L 14-55 @ Kansas Jayhawks (3-9; 24-14 late in 2nd)
  • L 13-42 vs. Buffalo Bulls (10-4, made bowl; 35-6 at half)
  • L 17-24 vs. Indiana Hoosiers (5-7; 24-7 at half, and after 3rd)
  • L 17-38 vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-8; 24-14 at half, and after 3rd)
  • L 7-34 @ Maryland Terrapins (5-7; 34-0 until late 4th)
  • L 15-18 vs. Northwestern Wildcats (9-5, #21; Rutgers led 15-10 after 3rd)
  • L 17-31 @ Wisconsin Badgers (8-5, made bowl; 24-3 after 3rd)
  • L 7-42 vs. #4 Michigan Wolverines (10-3, #14)
  • L 7-20 vs. #16 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4, #17)
  • L 10-14 @ Michigan State Spartans (7-6, made bowl; Rutgers led 10-7 in 4th quarter)


Who was worse?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    2012 Illinois
    (219 votes)
  • 48%
    2018 Rutgers
    (210 votes)
429 votes total Vote Now