Oct. 13, 2012; Provo, UT, USA; Oregon State Beavers head coach Mike Riley celebrates after beating the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sports

Inspired By Andy Murray: College Football Winless Streaks Entering 2013

Jul 7, 2013; London, United Kingdom; Andy Murray (GBR) celebrates with the trophy after match point during his match against Novak Djokovic (SRB) on day 13 of the 2013 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Murray became the United Kingdom’s first Wimbledon winner in 77 years, snapping one of sport’s most notable slumps.

His victory comes in a decade that has featured the end of cold spells for the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox — and as of this writing, the Pittsburgh Pirates are setting baseball’s pace. Last year, Manchester City won its first Premier League title in 44 years.

Some of college football’s most dubious streaks have ceased in recent seasons:

  • Northwestern’s Gator Bowl defeat of Mississippi State ended a 68-year postseason drought for the Wildcats.
  • The Kentucky Wildcats overcame 27 years of futility against their SEC rival Tennessee Volunteers to conclude 2011.
  • Vanderbilt picked up its first home win over Tennessee in three decades (yeah, Vol fans could not have been too sad to see Derek Dooley go).
  • Stanford won the Rose Bowl Game for the first time since 1971 last January, with its defeat of Wisconsin.
  • In 2009, Mark Ingram became the first player representative of the Alabama Crimson Tide to take home the Heisman Trophy.

With skids falling all around sports, including on the collegiate gridiron, the 2013 campaign offers hope for teams looking to take their own page from the newly-penned Andy Murray playbook.

Kentucky and Vanderbilt are winless against Florida in over two decades

The Wildcats and Commodores snapped similar losing streaks to Tennessee in recent years. Could they end their misery against SEC East power Florida? UT was in a historically bad stretch the last few seasons under Dooley, while Florida remains a BCS-caliber program.

New UK head coach Mark Stoops knows how to defeat the Gators — he contributed to two Florida State Seminoles wins over UF in 2010 and 2011 as defensive coordinator. The first victory snapped a six-game skid for the ‘Noles vs. UF. Stoops has Kentucky headed in the direction without even coaching a game, but this year’s Wildcats are too young, and the talent disparity is still too wide to end a run that began in 1987.

Vanderbilt is in the midst of a program-best run under head coach James Franklin’s guidance. The Commodores set a school benchmark for success in 2012, winning nine games and finishing ranked in the Top 25. And yet even still, VU lost by two touchdowns in its encounter with Florida.

Franklin takes arguably his most talented squad yet into The Swamp this year, where VU has not won since 1945.

Army’s 11-game losing streak to Navy

Dec 10, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; A West Point cadet holds a sign during a game between Army and Navy at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Black Knights from West Point last defeated their rivals from Annapolis in 2001. Paul Johnson ushered in an era of total Midshipmen dominance that Ken Niumatalolo continued, as from 2002 to 2010, Navy’s average margin of victory was 25.7 points per game.

The last two match-ups have narrowed the gap, however. Army fell 27-21 in 2011, and 17-13 in 2012. Last season’s contest was particularly heartbreaking for the Cadets, as a late fumble sealed the deal. The consecutively close contests offer hope for Army finally breaking through, though. It must do so without quarterback Trent Steelman, a stalwart of the program the last four years.

Arizona has not reached the Rose Bowl since joining the Pac-12 Conference in 1978

UA is the only member among the Pac-12’s original 10 that has never played in a Rose Bowl Game. The Wildcats have been close on a few occasions, most notably 1998 when UCLA’s season finale loss at Miami kept the Bruins out of the first BCS championship game.

Arizona was again snakebit in 2009 on a nationally-televised showdown with the Oregon Ducks. UA’s student section rushed the field prematurely, but Jeremiah Masoli led a march down the field that forced overtime. UO won in the extra frames and punched its ticket to that season’s Rose Bowl.

Rich Rodriguez returns the most veteran lineup in the conference, including 2012 NCAA rushing leader Ka’Deem Carey. However, the Wildcats have considerable holes that are likely to prevent them from contending for the conference championship. They replace star quarterback Matt Scott, lost leading receiver Austin Hill to a torn ACL during spring practices, and all phases of defense have question marks.

Oregon State has not been to the Rose Bowl in 49 years

While Arizona’s 35 years of Pacific Conference membership without a Rose Bowl set an unfortunate standard, the Oregon State Beavers streak is perhaps more glaring. OSU has been eligible for Rose Bowl inclusion since 1915, when it joined the Pac forerunner Pacific Coast Conference. The Beavers reached the Granddaddy of ‘Em All three times in their nearly 100 years of membership, but never since 1964.

Mike Riley returned to his winning ways last year, when OSU rebounded from an uncharacteristically bad finish in 2011 to go 9-3. The Beavers were just a few scores away from entering the season-ending Civil War undefeated. Each of those losses were to opponents — Stanford and Washington — the Beavers host in 2013.

Of course, winning the Pac-12 North and thus playing for a Rose Bowl berth could come down to ending another drought: OSU hasn’t beaten the Oregon Ducks since 2007.

Minnesota last reached the Rose Bowl in 1961

Jerry Kill took on a cumbersome task in rebuilding Minnesota football. The Golden Gophers have been Big Ten Conference also-rans for decades. But with a newly christened stadium and perhaps earlier-than-expected postseason appearance, Minnesota faithful can start to set their sights higher than a fringe bowl.

That’s more for the near-future than 2013, however. With the Legends Division arguably featuring four of the Big Ten’s five best teams in Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Northwestern, as well as a likely resurgent Iowa, just making the postseason again would be a victory for these Golden Gophers.

Still, it’s fun to imagine Minnesota and Oregon State ending their combined 101 Rose-less campaigns for an all-bucktoothed rodent bowl. It’s more likely than a Cubs World Series.

Not all streaks need be long to be significant, though.

Clemson has not beat South Carolina since 2008

A four-game streak might not seem like that much, but when Steve Spurrier reminds Clemson that his South Carolina Gamecocks have dominated the Palmetto State in recent years, it resonates. CU quarterback Tajh Boyd gets his final crack at besting South Carolina in this year’s season finale, in Columbia.

Doing so means overcoming Jadeveon Clowney, who had himself a game in last year’s Gamecock win in Death Valley.

But of all the college football programs chomping at the bit to return to the gridiron, in search of ending a winless drought, Associated Press writer Ralph D. Russo might have the team most in need of pulling an Andy Murray.

Man has a point; should the Tide win another crystal ball, it will have been an arduous, 364 days since it last did so. Excruciating.

Tags: Army Black Knights Clemson Tigers Football Kentucky Wildcats Minnesota Golden Gophers Oregon State Beavers Vanderbilt Commodores

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