Best college football seasons for hoops powerhouses

Four weeks into the 2022 college football season, only 21 teams remain undefeated. Some of the undefeated or undefeated teams may look familiar to college basketball fans.

The reigning national champions, the Kansas Jayhawks, are one of the undefeated college football teams. The Kentucky Wildcats are also 4-0 and started the Round of 64 as the No. 2 before becoming the first team to fail in the St. Peter’s Peacocks’ Cinderella run.

Meanwhile, the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels each have one loss. They met in the Final Four at Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last NCAA tournament last April.

As these traditional basketball powerhouses see success on the gridiron, here’s a look at their recent notable football accolades:


Kansas Jayhawks

Best season: 2007

The Jayhawks captured their final division title in 2007 after finishing as the program’s top winner with a 12-1 aggregate record. They peaked at No. 2 in the polls before losing to Missouri to end the regular season. Kansas defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2008 Orange Bowl for their first and only BCS Bowl win.

Kansas also saw success on the court and on the field that year. As of November 2007, it was the only school to have both its football team and men’s basketball team in the AP Top 10.

Where are you now: Despite having the least likely path to an unbeaten September, according to ESPN’s College Football Power Index, the Jayhawks are 4-0 for the first time since 2009. Quarterback Jalon Daniels leads FBS with a 97.5 overall QBR this season — the highest mark by a Big 12 quarterback in four games since Baylor’s Bryce Petty in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

what’s ahead: ESPN’s FPI gives them a 38.7% chance of beating Iowa State this week, and their chances next week rise slightly to 41.7% against another currently undefeated program in TCU.

Kansas’ schedule doesn’t get any easier after that, as they will face No. 18 Oklahoma, No. 16 Baylor, and No. 9 Oklahoma State in the three straight weeks.


Kentucky Wildcats

Best Season: 1950

Legendary head coach Bear Bryant led the Wildcats to an 11-1 record, and they defeated the then-No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in the 1951 Sugar Bowl. They were retroactively declared national champions, and it’s one of only four seasons that Kentucky scored more than 10 wins. The others occurred in 1977, 2018, and 2021.

Where are you now: Kentucky Beat then-No. 12 Florida in the second game of the season in Gainesville, Fla. and travels to Ole Miss this week. The Wildcats are looking to win multiple road games against ranked opponents in the same season for the second time since the AP Poll debuted in 1936.

With a strong roster ranking 102nd out of 131 FBS teams, the Wildcats’ path to going undefeated was one of the easiest in the SEC and all of college football. That will change in the coming weeks.

what’s ahead: Kentucky face another undefeated and formidable opponent this week in Oxford. It will meet Ole Miss #14 as a ranked opponent for the second time in series history. Kentucky will face two other ranked opponents this season in No. 8 Tennessee and No. 1 Georgia.


Duke Blue Devils

Best Season: 1941

Duke went unbeaten in the regular season under coach Wallace Wade, whose name is on the Blue Devils stadium. Duke finished the season as the No. 2 team in the country, the highest AP poll finish in the program’s history. The Blue Devils lost the Sugar Bowl in the postseason but still earned an unclaimed national title — an honor they share for this year with Alabama, one of the most contentious titles in college football history.

Where are you now: The Blue Devils lose to Kansas by 35-27, where they allowed Jalon Daniels to account for five touchdowns but outperformed their other three opponents by 110-43.

what’s ahead: Duke is considered by some industry circles to be “the worst basketball school left”. But according to ESPN’s FPI, Duke also has the easiest schedule of the group. The Blue Devils wrap up the regular season against No. 24 Pitt and No. 22 Wake Forest, who are the only remaining ranked opponents in their schedule, but those rankings will likely change by the matchup.


Tar heels from North Carolina

Best Season: 1980

North Carolina’s most recent conference championship came in 1980 with a defense bolstered by Lawrence Taylor. It won the ACC title and finished the season 10th as a team with an 11-1 aggregate record, also unbeaten in conference play. UNC have only had two more 11-win seasons since then (1997, 2015).

Where are you now: The Tar Heels are coming off a 45-32 loss to Notre Dame, but their offense has been on full display in their first three games. First-year quarterback Drake Maye threw for 930 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception in those games.

what’s ahead: They currently have three ranked opponents on their schedule at No. 24 Pittsburgh, No. 22 Wake Forest and No. 10 NC State. ESPN’s FPI heavily favors North Carolina against Virginia Tech this week, but predicts the Tar Heels have just a 26% chance of winning against Miami the following week. Best college football seasons for hoops powerhouses

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