College Basketball: 15 Teams Making Their Loser Football Programs Look Bad

Liz YoungbloodContributor IIIJanuary 25, 2012

College Basketball: 15 Teams Making Their Loser Football Programs Look Bad

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    The college basketball season is well under way and the last of the many college football bowls has finally come to a close. 

    Some fans are mourning the loss of football season, but others have been rejoicing since September. 

    There are certain schools for which football season means enduring loss after loss and endless embarrassments along the way. Fans impatiently check off days on their calendar, yearning for basketball season.

    But when September rolls around, those schools make up for all their football inadequacies. The basketball team reels off win after win and soon, football is just a distant memory. 

    Some of these schools have historically bad football and traditionally dominant football, but not all of them.

    Here are the 15 college basketball teams whose play so far is embarrassing their football counterparts.


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    No one can blame Duke Blue Devils’ fans for sitting at home, twiddling their thumbs and watching the minutes tick by until it is basketball season.

    The Duke basketball team is 16-3. It has beaten three Top 25 teams and is ranked sixth in the nation. 

    The Blue Devils football team? It finished the season 3-9. The team had exactly one conference win, beating the Boston College Eagles by one point. The season ended with seven straight losses. 

    Stars like Mason Plumlee, Austin Rivers and Seth Curry make all basketball games must-see affairs. They are also the perfect remedy for Duke fans who simply want all memories of football season surgically removed from their brains. 

    Duke’s football team looked pretty awful by itself. Comparing it to the basketball team? That’s just not fair.


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    The Syracuse Orange basketball team opened the season with 20 straight wins. The Syracuse football team opened the season with two straight wins and finished with five straight losses. 

    The football team was not ranked above 65th in the nation in rushing yards, passing yards, points scored and points allowed.

    The team needed overtime to beat the Toledo Rockets and won just one conference game all year.

    Thank goodness for basketball season.

    The Orange basketball team was ranked No. 1 in the country for over a month. Their bench is at least nine players deep. The team is currently in line for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and is undeniably a Final Four threat.

    Fans in Syracuse are taking their time to revel in basketball season because there will be very little to cheer about in September when football games start.


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    Kentucky is one of the most rabid basketball states in the country. Maybe that is because fans have stored up so much disappointment watching their football team lose games.

    The Kentucky Wildcats football team’s longest winning streak all season was two games. In three straight games against ranked teams, Kentucky was outscored 137-20. 

    The football team’s most meaningful win of the season? Beating the 5-6 Tennessee Volunteers by three points. Oh, and a wide receiver started the game at quarterback for the Wildcats.

    Still wondering why Kentucky fans are so rabid about the basketball team?

    The Wildcats basketball team is 19-1 and ranked first in the nation. It is on an 11-game winning streak.

    The team has wins over the eighth ranked North Carolina Tar Heels and, most importantly, the then-No. 4 Louisville Cardinals. 

Mississippi State

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    The Mississippi State Bulldogs football team was ranked 20th in the nation to begin the season. The team was supposed to at least make some noise in the loaded SEC West.

    Instead, the squad struggled mightily offensively, despite a great player in Vick Ballard. The Bulldogs limped to a 7-6 record overall, just 2-6 in conference play. 

    The Mississippi State basketball team initially appeared to be in for a similar fate. The team dropped their second game of the season to the Akron Zips. Memories of a drama-filled 2010-11 season crept back into the minds of Bulldogs’ fans. 

    But then, the Mississippi State basketball team ripped off 11 straight wins before losing by just two points to the then No. 7 and undefeated Baylor Bears.

    The Bulldogs are currently ranked 16th in the nation and are doing all of the things the football team was supposed to.


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    The Kansas Jayhawks football and basketball teams could not be more different. I would not blame Kansas fans one bit if they claimed to not even have a football team at all.

    Kansas Jayhawks football? Where to begin? The team went 2-10 this season. Their two wins? The first two games of the season against the McNeese State Cowboys and the Northern Illinois Huskies. 

    The 10 straight games the Jayhawks lost were not pretty. Scores of 66-24, 70-28, 43-0 and 61-7 go beyond embarrassing.

    Fortunately, the Kansas basketball team is doing all it can to repair the damage done by Jayhawks football.

    The basketball team is ranked No. 5 in the country, sporting a 17-3 record and fresh off a win over the previously undefeated Baylor Bears.

    Kansas’ worse loss of the season? By 10 points to the (then) second ranked Kentucky Wildcats. That is the opposite of embarrassing.


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    If it is possible to have a football team in a major conference worse than the Kansas Jayhawks, it is the Indiana Hoosiers. 

    The Hoosier football team went 1-11 this season with their lone victory coming against the South Carolina State Bulldogs. 

    The team lost games to the Ball State Cardinals and North Texas Mean Green.

    The Indiana football team allowed 16 more points per game than they scored (37 to 21). That type of statistic does not indicate a good season.

    Enter, the Indiana basketball team. Despite being unranked to begin the season, the Hoosiers rolled off 12 straight wins including knocking off the No. 1 and undefeated Kentucky Wildcats. 

    The team has victories over three ranked teams and is ranked No. 16 in the country.

    No one was talking about Indiana’s basketball team before the season, but they are certainly talking about them now.


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    The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team should take solace in the fact that it was not nearly as bad as the Kansas Jayhawks and Indiana Hoosiers of the world. But it was still pretty bad.

    Minnesota finished the football season 3-9 with losses to the North Dakota State Bison and the New Mexico State Aggies. 

    Their wins seemed more of a product of bad play by their opponents than great play by the Golden Gophers.

    Basketball season was supposed to be the saving grace for Minnesota fans, but then star Trevor Mbakwe was lost for the season with a knee injury and football season seemed destined to repeat itself. 

    Fortunately, the Golden Gophers have come together and are surpassing everyone’s expectations.

    The basketball team is 15-5 this season and boasts a big win over the (then) No. 8 Indiana Hoosiers. 

    In Minnesota’s two losses to ranked opponents, they were beaten by a combined 14 points.

    The Minnesota football team had a season to forget and forget quickly. The basketball team, on the other hand, is surprising people right and left.


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    The Mountain West Conference is not football’s easiest division. The TCU Horned Frogs and Boise State Broncos are often in the Top 25 and most of the other teams are talented enough that there is tough competition night in and night out.

    But make no mistake, the MWC is not the SEC. It’s not the Big 10 or even the Pac 12. So going 1-6 in conference play when you are in the MWC is really rather embarrassing. Just ask the UNLV Rebels. 

    UNLV’s only conference win last season was a 38-35 triumph over the Colorado State Rams. The Rebels were 2-11 overall and scored more than 20 points just once all season. 

    But the UNLV basketball team is a different story. The Rebels are ranked 15th in the country and sporting an 18-3 record.

    The team handed the top ranked North Carolina Tar Heels their first lost off the season and also beat No. 19 Illinois by 16 points.

    Most importantly, UNLV has already eclipsed the conference win total of their football team. 


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    The Connecticut Huskies’ basketball team has fallen on hard times recently. The team has lost four of their last six games and are just 4-3 in the Big East.

    But that is still far better than their football team. 

    The Connecticut football squad finished just 5-7 overall and never had a winning streak longer than one game. Keep in mind this is in the Big East where, up until the last few weeks of the season, the BCS bid could have gone to the 7-6 Louisville Cardinals.

    Although, if you look at it that way, Connecticut was just two wins away from contending for a BCS Bowl. But that’s really not something to brag about. 

    The Huskies basketball team won 12 of their first 13 games. The team has two stars in Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier and Andre Drummond is the player everyone is talking about. 

    And basketball’s Big East is much different than football’s. Connecticut has plenty of time to prove that their early season play was no fluke.


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    The Memphis Tigers football team was bad. There’s no getting past it, the team was awful.

    The Tigers finished 2-10 overall with just one win in Conference USA (against the equally terrible Tulane Green Wave).  

    Memphis’ other win? Against the Austin Peay Governors, a team that lost 72-10 to the Cincinnati Bearcats. Does that put things in perspective?

    The Tigers football team also lost 47-3 to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. Is this picture clear yet?

    It would be very difficult for the Memphis basketball team to be much worse.

    The Tigers basketball team is 13-6 overall. Their losses are mostly a result of a brutal non-conference schedule. Five of Memphis’ six losses came to teams that are currently ranked.

    Will Barton is a stud and the rest of the team has started coming together well.

    The Tigers now have the benefit of a much lighter C-USA schedule to get them prepared for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, where they should be heading in March.

Oregon State

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    The Oregon State Beavers football team opened their season by losing to the Sacramento State Hornets.


    The season did not pick up from there as Oregon State went 3-9 overall. 

    The team averaged just 86 rushing yards per game and lost only one and a half games by a touchdown or less (the Beavers lost to UCLA by eight points, but the chances of Oregon State converting a two-point conversion to tie up the game? That question isn’t even fair to ask). 

    The Oregon State basketball team, fortunately, is doing much better. The team is 13-7 and, although they are going through a rough stretch in the Pac-12, still a solid squad. 

    Three of the Beavers’ five losses in conference play have come by less than five points or in overtime.

    The team lost by just two points to the Vanderbilt Commodores and are very capable of surprising some teams in the Pac-12.

North Carolina

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    Who can blame the state of North Carolina for focusing on basketball? The North Carolina Tar Heels had a few years of football success, were accused of major NCAA violations, and then faded into obscurity yet again.

    The team was 7-6 overall last season and just 3-5 in a less-than-stellar ACC. The Tar Heels’ best win of the year? Beating a very mediocre 8-5 Virginia Cavaliers team. Their worst loss? 59-38 at the hands of the fading Clemson Tigers. 

    And that is why fans in North Carolina worship basketball.

    North Carolina basketball is 16-3 overall and ranked No. 8 in the nation. The team has won 11 of their past 12 games and should have a lot of success in a mediocre ACC. 

    Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall should all find their way to the NBA in a few years. 

    That is fortunate for North Carolina fans who want to cheer for basketball teams as long as possible to stave off the bleak football season.

New Mexico

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    Again, the Mountain West Conference. Aside from two teams, not a football powerhouse. Yet, the New Mexico Lobos football team managed to go 1-6 in the conference and 1-11 overall. Their only win was against the equally awful UNLV Rebels and by just one touchdown. 

    The team dropped nine straight before their lone win of the season. In that stretch, they lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks 52-3 and to 42-0 the Air Force Falcons.

    New Mexico lost two games by less than a touchdown—a 14-10 loss to the Colorado State Rams (giving the Rams their only conference win of the season) and a 48-45 overtime loss to the Sam Houston State Bearkats (yes, kats with a k). 

    That’s fairly awful. 

    The basketball team, thank goodness, is a vast improvement. After opening the season 2-2, the Lobos went on a 13 game winning streak. Then, the team lost by just five points to the No. 16 San Diego State Aztecs. 

    New Mexico is now 15-4 and is a definite threat to knock off one of the top two teams in the conference and possibly even receive a postseason berth.

Florida State

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    The Florida State Seminoles’ football team was not awful by any stretch of the imagination. It is just when the expectations for the football team and basketball team are compared that the contrast emerges. 

    This year’s Seminoles football team was supposed to be the squad that took Florida State football back to its rightful position of prominence.

    The team was ranked fifth in the country in the third game of the season and primed to knock off the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners.

    But then Florida State lost by 10 points in a rather one-sided contest, dropped their next two games (including to the unranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons) and faded from the national picture.

    The Seminoles nine wins were mostly a product of a weak ACC as it beat just one team with a winning conference record.

    Florida State’s basketball team, on the other hand, was supposed to finish third in the ACC, but a number of early losses (all to good teams), made expectations plummet. 

    But then the Seminoles had one of the most satisfying two-week stretches in college basketball.

    The team shocked the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels by 33 points, beat the Maryland Terrapins handily then finished their streak by beating the No. 4 Duke Blue Devils on a last second three. 

    Florida State has finally begun to live up to expectations and is making up for the mediocre showing from its football team.


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    This one isn’t quite as fair. The Florida Gators football team fell victim to the injury bug. Quarterback John Brantley was injured in the Gators’ fifth game of the season. At that point, the team was 4-0, but then dropped that game and the next three in a row.

    After starting the season with four straight wins, Florida failed to record consecutive wins again all season.

    Florida did not beat a ranked team all season either. The team lost by 30 points to the LSU Tigers and by 28 to the Alabama Crimson Tide. 

    The Gators were supposed to be right back in the mix in the SEC, but instead were no more than an afterthought. 

    The basketball team is a different story. Florida has established itself as the second-best team in the conference and is ranked 14th in the country.

    Two of the Gators’ four losses were to top five teams in the Syracuse Orange and Ohio State Buckeyes. The team’s combined margin of defeat in both games was 11 points. 

    The school has alternated between being a basketball and a football school. This year, it is definitely the basketball team that is having the most success.