All-Time Wins and Percentage.

Submitted by J.W. Wells Co. on September 15th, 2009 at 5:45 PM

During the ND game on Saturday, ESPN used a graphic that showed ND had slipped to #3 in all-time wins, behind U-M and Texas.  I had not realized this happened at the end of last season.

Here are the current (up-to-date following 2009 Week 2) rankings for wins and winning percentage.  Comments/observations below.


1.  MICHIGAN  -  874
2.  Texas  -  834
3.  Notre Dame  -  832
4.  Nebraska  -  819
5.  Ohio State  -  809
6.  Penn State  -  802
7.  Alabama  -  801
8.  Oklahoma  -  792
9.  Tennessee  -  777
10.  Southern Cal  -  768


1.  MICHIGAN  -  .740  (874-295-36, 1205 GP)
2.  Notre Dame  -  .736  (832-285-42, 1159 GP)
3.  Texas  -  .718  (834-317-33, 1184 GP)
4.  Oklahoma  -  .716  (792-298-53, 1143 GP)
5.  Ohio State  -  .715  (809-307-53, 1169 GP)
6.  Alabama  -  .709  (801-316-43, 1160 GP)
7.  Southern Cal  -  .707  (768-303-54, 1125 GP)
8.  Nebraska  -  .702  (819-337-40, 1196 GP)
9.  Tennessee  -  .694  (777-328-53, 1158 GP)
10.  Penn State  -  .690  (802-349-42, 1193 GP)


1.  In terms of wins, MICHIGAN's got a huge lead over Texas and Notre Dame, followed by another drop-off to schools that have pretty recently cracked 800 wins.

2.  In terms of percentage, MICHIGAN and Notre Dame have a tremendous lead.

3.  Around the 1200 GP point, a win raises MICHIGAN's percentage by about .0002 (1/5 of a point).  A loss drops MICHIGAN's percentage by about .0006 (just over 1/2 of a point); so 2008 was pretty tough on the all-time stats.

4.  MICHIGAN's substantial leads in each category I think can be attributed to MICHIGAN's two highly dominant eras as far as number of wins: Yost and Bo.  The other schools on those lists have had dominant stretches here and there, but generally only one truly dominant era each.

5.  Also, since 1970, MICHIGAN has generally avoided (thus far, fingers crossed) a multi-season dead era of a bad coach or a few bad coaching searches in a row, such as has occurred with every other team on those lists, save for Penn State (though one could argue the late 1990s and early 2000s had the same effect there).  4-5 lousy seasons in a row, or a full decade of mediocrity, really takes a toll on winning percentage.

6.  The top ten on each list are the same teams, in slightly different order.  So number of wins is generally analogous to winning percentage.  Duh.  BUT:

7.  Just outside of the top ten in percentage, a few precocious upstarts pop up.  Florida State sits at #11 with .670 and only 460 wins.  Miami (Fla.) is #14 with .634 and only 546 wins.  Other than those two notables, the list roughly holds true: more all-time wins roughly equals greater winning percentage.  Since the top ten traditional power schools racked up most of their wins and drove their percentages higher in an era with nowhere near the parity we have today or in the past 30 years, I think what Florida State and Miami did in the 1980s and 1990s was pretty darned impressive.

8.  Until the late 1990s, MICHIGAN and Notre Dame had each hung around the .745 mark for quite a while, then Notre Dame slipped off, and Michigan followed in 2005-2008.


When will MICHIGAN get to 900 wins?

When will MICHIGAN get back to .745?



September 15th, 2009 at 7:56 PM ^

If we don't hit 900 in 2011, I'm almost starting to think it could be something of a disappointment. That's 26 (25 if this doesn't include ND) Hopefully another 7 this year. That leaves 19 for the following 2 years each.

While this does indicate 10 win seasons (basically), if we hit 9-3 this year (hopeful, after the ND game) this should be realistic, not homerish.
However, 9 wins this season MAY be homerish....


September 15th, 2009 at 5:55 PM ^

Your question of when we get to 900 wins depends on your optimism for the season.

Right now we're at 874. Thus, we need 26 more wins to get to 900. Many people are saying that we're going to get 8 wins this year. So let's say that we get 6 more wins to get us up to 8. That means we'll have 20 more wins to go.

Next year, if we have 8 wins this year we should be looking at 10+ wins since we'll be returning most of the team (the biggest losses will be the Brandons Graham and Minor I think). Based on that, I'd say that we're looking for win 900 somewhere in the 2011 season (especially since we'll be playing 13 games a season again with the bowl games).

Getting more specific at this point, while fun, is fairly futile.


September 15th, 2009 at 6:07 PM ^

Assuming 8 wins this season and at least 10 wins the following two seasons, we'll hit 900 wins near the end of the 2011 season. Something tantalizing, it's conceivable that the 900th win could be the 2011 OSU game.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:29 PM ^

It's also conceivable that the first collegiate football program to achieve 1000 all-time wins will come from a Michigan victory over OSU in 2020.

Just in case, I will begin buying picture frames and scented candles tomorrow for the commemorative shrine that would suddenly appear where my living room used to be.


September 15th, 2009 at 6:08 PM ^

Also worth noting: BigTen didn't send more than one team to bowls for the longest time, therefore providing less attempts against the best teams. So while Michigan teams played better teams slightly more often during the regular season back in the day, teams like Texas were finishing the year against an extra opponent that they could have lost to.

I'm not sure how much this affects how you look at the W's or W-L %. It probably only affects 20-30 or so bowl games, which is a small sample size out of 1180+.


September 15th, 2009 at 6:19 PM ^

Correct, but ND (our main competition in the win percentage race) declined all bowl invitations for a long time as well - they didn't go to one for like 40 years in the middle of last century. I believe we've actually played more bowl games than they have.

Also, we've never had the luxury of playing a bowl in our home state, as Texas has done many times (Cotton Bowl).


September 15th, 2009 at 6:12 PM ^

IIRC, we were still at .745 going into last season. 2005-07 didn't really affect our win percentage; we were 27-11 (.710), which wasn't a significant enough downtown to do much damage. Last year alone was the killer.

BTW, OSU hasn't really had a down decade, either. They were a little worse than they are now in the 1980s and early '90s, but still a bowl team every year (except 1988).

As for win 900, that should occur either late in 2011 or early 2012.

J.W. Wells Co.

September 16th, 2009 at 7:59 AM ^

Ah yes, how quickly I've forgotten 11-2 in 2006, bookended as it was with such clunkers.

Yeah, I was thinking about OSU when I made that statement about stretches of bad seasons. They haven't had anything as bad as what Oklahoma or Nebraska or USC or Notre Dame have gone through, but the Earl Bruce years were fairly mediocre with some bright spots, and Cooper put up a couple of bad seasons far below percentage. Aside from 1984 and 2008, Michigan hasn't had any other seasons significantly below winning percentage since the Bumper.


September 16th, 2009 at 9:54 AM ^

Actually, Earl Bruce was the model of consistency at OSU. His first season, OSU went 11-1. After the first season, he went 9-3 almost every year. His final season, his worst, OSU was 6-4-1. His overall winning % in 9 years was 75.46%, higher than OSU's overall winning % of 71.5, and just a shade below Hayes at 76.08%.

St. Tress actually has a higher winning % than Hayes, of course he has only coached for 8 years at this point and I get the feeling his time of Big 10 dominance is on the wane.…


September 15th, 2009 at 6:30 PM ^

was offset by ND's 3-9 in 2007.
Combining 2007 and 2008: M went 12-13, ND went 10-15.

In the seasons where we went through "the Horror", a blowout at home to Oregon and "the Year of Infinite Sadness: redux", we were 2 games better than Notre Frickin' Dame.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:52 PM ^

OK, it was too fun to resist. I've got us taking our first shot at win #900 at home vs. Illinois on Nov. 12th, 2011. This assumes an 8 win season this year. 10 wins next year. We win one of the two bowl games (for 2009 or 2010). And only one loss in 2011 prior to the Illinois game.

If we go one win ahead of my schedule, we would be going for number 900 in our next meeting with Minnesota on Nov. 6, 2011. There could be a good story line there since they were 1 of our 3 wins in '08 and the Little Brown Jug, etc.

If we lose 2 more than I expect, we would be on a collision course with OSU, in the BIG HOUSE (for the first time after completed construction) on Nov. 26, 2011.

Check this link out to make your own predictions:


September 22nd, 2009 at 1:10 AM ^

I am finally done laughing my a$$ off. Seriously, I was trying to be open-minded since only the Big(11)Ten schedule was listed and you never know who might show up. Could be ND, 2 directionals, and....say....Hawaii State(just making that up). So then no losses. Could be USC(home), USC(away), USC(away), USC(home). So only one loss, but that 2nd road game was a nail-biter.


September 15th, 2009 at 9:54 PM ^

...that I can see Richrod not being the coach for that. As for Central, there status at #20 is due to the fact that they were a lower division power. My uncle played there back in the "Ray Bentley era." Bentley was actually his roommate.


September 15th, 2009 at 10:29 PM ^

For teams like Michigan and Notre Dame, a 9-3 regular season is just average. Counting the bowl game, 10-3 is above average, while 10-4 or worse is below average.

J.W. Wells Co.

September 16th, 2009 at 10:16 AM ^

2002 was a 12-games-allowed regular season (occasionally this occurred when the calendar lined up to put an extra Saturday before Thanksgiving; now, 12 games are allowed regardless).

Also, 2002 was before the few "pre-season bowls" were banned, such as the Pigskin Classic and Kickoff Classic. Teams in these games were allowed an extra regular season game. Ohio State beat Texas Tech in the Pigskin Classic on August 24.

Pigskin Classic + 12 regseason games + bowl = 14


September 16th, 2009 at 12:51 AM ^

I took a look at the UM record under Fielding Yost. Between 1901 and 1904, Michigan did not lose a single game, and tied once. The record was 43-0-1. In other words, almost 5% of all Michigan wins occurred in the first four seasons under Yost.

At the end of his 25-year coaching career at Michigan, (1901-23, 1925-26) he accumulated a record of 165-29. Those wins account for nearly 19% of all wins over the 129 years of UM Football. Take away Yost's contribution to wins and losses, and UM's winning percentage would be 0.727. Still good enough for second place, but his achievement cannot be under estimated.

oriental andrew

September 16th, 2009 at 10:58 AM ^

Of PSU's 802 wins and 1193 games played, Joe Pa coached 385 wins (48.0% of all wins) and in 515 games (43.2% of all games played). Also, his winning % is 0.74951, which is absurd.

FSU has 460 wins, per the OP, and Bobby Bowden owns 310 of them, for a whopping 67.4%. He's averaging over 9 wins per season. Prior to his arrival, FSU averaged 5 wins/seasons. Just, wow...

On topic, possible to hit 900 by end of 2011, although it would require a better-than-expected 2009 and probably 10-win seasons in 2010/2011. Eminently possible.

Will Trade Sou…

September 16th, 2009 at 12:03 PM ^

You get half a win in terms of percentage for a tie? That's what the numbers seem to indicate. What is this, hockey?

1. MICHIGAN - .740 (874-295-36, 1205 GP)

874 wins over 1169 (wins and losses) is 0.748
874 wins over 1205 (total games played) is 0.725
874 wins plus 18 (half of our 36 ties) over 1205 (total games played) is .740