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Worst of the 21st: Sweet 16—Colletto Regional

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Special appearance by, indisputably, the worst of the 20th

Okay, not really titans...and barely colliding

Today’s honoree is truly the Babe Ruth of crappy B1G football. I’m talking, of course, about the late 70s/early 80s Northwestern Wildcats. You may think that’s a stretch, but the parallels hold.

First, the ‘76 and ‘77 Wildcats were like Ruth with the Red Sox. Already doing impressive things, but not yet historically resonant.

  • 1976: 1-10/1-7 (42-21 vs. MSU), -4.27 SRS (#92 of 137), 12.2 PPG (#126), 28.3 Opp. PPG (#124)
  • 1977: 1-10/1-7 (21-7 vs. Illinois), -7.38 SRS (#111 of 145), 9.3 PPG (#143), 30.6 Opp. PPG (#137)

But, just as Ruth didn’t fully blossom until he joined the Yankees, NW didn’t reach its trough until John Pont gave way to Rick Venturi and then Dennis Green. Behold:

  • 1978: 0-10-1/0-7-1 (0-0 @ Illinois), -13.60 SRS (#120 of 138), 8.4 PPG (#138), 40.0 Opp. PPG (#138) [double last place!]

The scoreless tie was lovingly recounted by OTE’s very own Thumpasaurus here:

  • 1979: 1-10/0-9 (27-22 vs. Wyoming), -10.05 SRS (#114 of 140), 10.5 PPG (#131), 35.1 Opp. PPG (#137)
  • 1980: 0-11/0-9, -13.29 SRS (#125 of 138), 13.7 PPG (#118), 40.4 Opp. PPG (#137)
  • 1981: 0-11/0-9, -14.39 SRS (#127 of 137), 7.5 PPG (#136), 45.9 Opp. PPG (#127)

Now, NW did not suddenly get good in 1982. In fact, their ‘82 and ‘83 squads would’ve been safely in our field had they played in the 2000s or 2010s. However, it is the 1981 Wildcats that redefined just how bad B1G football could be. They are the gold standard.

In their honor, further discussion can wait.


For now, let’s return to the matchups:

[Capsules can be found here: https://www.offtackleempire.com/2020/4/30/21241026/worst-big-ten-teams-2017-illinois-2008-michigan-2011-indiana-2019-maryland-2013-purdue]

(3) 2017 Illinois Fighting Illini 2-10/0-9

SRS -7.87: #100 of 130 (B1G #1 ranked conference)
15.4 PPG: #127 of 130
31.5 Opp. PPG: #91 of 130

(2) 2011 Indiana Hoosiers 1-11/0-8 (0-11 vs. FBS)

SRS -10.91: #107 of 120 (B1G #3 ranked conference)
21.4 PPG: #102 of 120 (19.9 vs. FBS)
37.3 Opp. PPG: #114 of 120 (38.8 vs. FBS)

  • L 20-27 (N) Ball State Cardinals (finished 6-6, no bowl)
  • L 31-34 vs. Virginia Cavaliers (8-5; Indiana led 31-24 late in 4th)
  • W 38-21 vs. South Carolina State Bulldogs (FBS opponent)
  • L 21-24 @ North Texas Mean Green (5-7; Indiana trailed 24-0 after 3rd)
  • L 10-16 vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4, made bowl)
  • L 20-41 vs. #19 Illinois Fighting Illini (7-6, made bowl)
  • L 7-59 @ #4 Wisconsin Badgers (11-3, #10)
  • L 24-45 @ Iowa Hawkeyes (7-6, made bowl; 35-14 at half)
  • L 38-59 vs. Northwestern Wildcats (6-7, made bowl)
  • L 20-34 @ Ohio State Buckeyes (6-7, made bowl; 20-20 late in 3rd)
  • L 3-55 @ #12 Michigan State Spartans (11-3, #11; 48-3 midway through 3rd)
  • L 25-33 vs. Purdue Boilermakers (7-6, made bowl)

Poll

Who was worse?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    2017 Illinois
    (37 votes)
  • 73%
    2011 Indiana
    (104 votes)
141 votes total Vote Now

*****

(5) 2002 Northwestern Wildcats 3-9/1-7

SRS -8.05: #90 of 117 (B1G #4 ranked conference)
22.7 PPG: #88 of 117
41.1 Opp. PPG: #113 of 117

  • L 3-52 @ Air Force Falcons (finished 8-5, made bowl; 52-0 late in 3rd)
  • L 24-48 vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs (10-2, #23; NW led 10-0, but trailed 41-10 in 3rd)
  • W 26-21 vs. Duke Blue Devils (2-10; Duke led 21-13 in 3rd)
  • W 49-40 @ Navy Midshipmen (2-10; three lead changes, Navy led 38-35 in 4th)
  • L 24-39 @ Michigan State Spartans (4-8; MSU led 20-17 midway through 3rd)
  • L 16-27 vs. #5 Ohio State Buckeyes (14-0, #1; 24-16 in 3rd)
  • L 42-45 @ Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-5, made bowl; NW rallied from 45-21 down in 4th)
  • L 0-49 @ #20 Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4, #16; 35-0 at half)
  • L 13-42 vs. Purdue Boilermakers (7-6, made bowl)
  • W 41-37 vs. Indiana Hoosiers (3-9; is 3-seed in field, NW lost 34-22 lead, but rallied from 37-34 down)
  • L 10-62 @ #6 Iowa Hawkeyes (11-2, #8)
  • L 24-31 vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (5-7; NW rallied from 31-10 down

(1) 2013 Purdue Boilermakers 1-11/0-8 (0-11 vs. FBS)

-12.43 SRS: #110 of 125 (B1G #4 ranked conference)
14.9 PPG: #121 of 125 (14.6 vs. FBS)
38.0 Opp. PPG: #114 of 125 (40.2 vs. FBS)

  • L 7-42 @ Cincinnati Bearcats (finished 9-4, made bowl; 14-7 at half)
  • W 20-14 vs. Indiana State Sycamores (FBS opponent…went 1-11)
  • L 24-31 vs. #21 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4, #20; Purdue led 17-10 after 3rd)
  • L 10-41 @ #24 Wisconsin Badgers (9-4, #22; no scoring last 14:56)
  • L 24-55 vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (12-2, made bowl; 27-10 at half, 48-17 after 3rd)
  • L 7-44 vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-4, made bowl; 37-0 until last minute)
  • L 0-14 @ Michigan State Spartans (13-1, #3; 7-0 after 3rd)
  • L 0-56 vs. #4 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-2, #12; 42-0 at half)
  • L 14-38 vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5, made bowl; 14-7 at half, 38-7 until last minute)
  • L 21-45 @ Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5, no bowl (probation); 28-21 in 3rd)
  • L 16-20 vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (4-8; 7-seed in field, Purdue led 14-7 after 1st, tied at 14 after 3rd)
  • L 36-56 @ Indiana Hoosiers (5-7; 49-9 in 3rd)

Poll

Who was worse?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    2002 Northwestern
    (19 votes)
  • 87%
    2013 Purdue
    (129 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now