Tracking the Football History of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Sweet Sixteen

By Amy Daughters -

Did you know that five of the eight matchups in this year’s Sweet Sixteen feature schools that field an FBS football team?

Of these five, three have faced one another on the gridiron, while the other two are still awaiting that very first clash.

Here’s a look at the football history of this season’s Sweet Sixteen, a review that makes you wonder what the College Football Playoff might look like with a field of 64 that transcends school size.

Kentucky-West Virginia

All-Time Series Record in Football: Kentucky leads 11-8-1

Last Played: 1983

The last time these two schools hooked up in football was the 1983 Hall of Fame Classic, a bowl game played in Birmingham, Ala. from 1977-85 before morphing into the All-American Bowl from 1986-90.

West Virginia won that meeting 20-16, it’s second-straight victory over Kentucky. The series stretches back to 1905 and has featured 19 regular-season games and the one postseason meeting in 1983.

Notre Dame-Wichita State

All-Time Series Record in Football: 0-0  

Last Played: Never

Wichita State fielded a football team from 1895-1986, but never played Notre Dame. The Shockers spent 38 years (1947-85) in the Missouri Valley Conference, winning or sharing five league titles from 1954-63.

The Irish are 5-0 vs. current members of the Missouri Valley, a record that consists completely of five wins over South Dakota, games that took place 100 years ago from 1913-1917.

Wichita State did score wins over Arizona State (1946 and 1963), BYU (1956), Kansas (1937 and 1982), Kansas State (1906, 1942, 1959 and 1985), Louisville (1963, 1964, 1966 and 1975), Oklahoma State (1938, 1954, 1955, 1961 and 1978) and Texas Tech (1936) during its time on the gridiron.

Wisconsin-North Carolina

All-Time Series Record in Football: Wisconsin leads 2-0  

Last Played: 2005

These two schools have squared off twice in history: Sept. 20, 2003 in Madison, a 38-27 Wisconsin win and then Sept. 17, 2005 in Chapel Hill, a 14-5 Badger victory.

What’s interesting is how few times Wisconsin has faced ACC teams, only 17 times in history, earning it a 7-9-1 all-time record. Compare that with the 58 times the Badgers have faced Pac-12 opponents in football.

North Carolina, on the other hand, has played the Big Ten in football 96 times, holding a narrow 49-46-1 all-time advantage.

Xavier-Arizona

All-Time Series Record in Football: 0-0  

Last Played: Never

Xavier, located in Cincinnati Ohio, hasn’t fielded a football team since 1973. The program dates back to 1901, the Musketeers own a 302-222-22 record all-time in football.

Though Xavier has never squared off with Arizona, it did play its in-state rival Arizona State in the 1950 Salad Bowl in Phoenix. The Musketeers won that game 33-21, capping off a 10-1 record for the 1949 season.

The Salad Bowl was served up for five seasons (1947-51), featuring thrilling matchups between Nevada-North Texas, Drake-Arizona, Miami (Ohio)-Arizona State and Houston-Dayton.

NC State-Louisville

All-Time Series Record in Football: Louisville leads 4-1

Last Played: 2014

Louisville’s move to the ACC-Atlantic in 2014 means that that the Cardinals and Wolfpack are at the beginning of what’s likely to be a long football relationship.

Prior to their first-ever ACC meeting, the two teams last squared off in the 2011 Belk Bowl, a game NC State took 31-24 for its sole victory in the series. The two have met four times since 1994, but the first game dates back to 1951 when Louisville won 26-2.

Oklahoma-Michigan State

All-Time Series Record in Football: 0-0

Last Played: Never

Believe it or not, Oklahoma and Michigan State have never clashed on the gridiron. The Sooners have faced Michigan (they are 1-0 vs. the Wolverines, winning the 1976 Orange Bowl) and are 60-44-3 all-time vs. the Big Ten in football.

Not only have the Spartans never played Oklahoma, they’ve never faced Oklahoma State or Tulsa. Michigan State holds a commanding 20-2-1 all-time record vs. the Big 12, the only losses coming in 1994 to Kansas and in 2010 to Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl.

Looking ahead, Oklahoma does have a home-and-home series scheduled with Michigan in 2025 and 2026.

Duke-Utah

All-Time Series Record in Football: 0-0  

Last Played: Never

Another pairing which has never met on the football field, the closest Utah has come to playing Duke was in 2004-05 when it played a home-and-home series with North Carolina, splitting the games 1-1.

The Utes are an impressive 10-1 all-time against ACC members, the bulk of which comes it’s combined 7-0 mark vs. Louisville and Pitt. The sole loss was to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in 2005.

Duke is 3-10-1 all-time vs. the Pac-12 in football, the wins coming vs. Cal (1962), Stanford (1971) and Washington (1973).

UCLA-Gonzaga

All-Time Series Record in Football: 0-0  

Last Played: Never

The fifth and final Sweet Sixteen matchup between teams who have never faced each other in football, Gonzaga shut down its football operations after the 1941 season, just as WWII got underway.

The Bulldogs, hailing from Spokane Wash., are 6-33-5 all-time vs. the Pac-12. The foundation of the record is a 5-18-3 mark vs. Washington State. The only other win comes via a 1939 triumph over Oregon in Eugene.

Gonzaga’s only postseason bowl action came in the 1922 San Diego East-West Christmas Classic, a game it lost 21-13 to West Virginia. The only way the Bulldogs and Mountaineers could meet again in this season’s Men’s Tourney is if both were to advance to the National Championship game.

Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.

  1. Stephen
    March 24, 2015 at 11:46 am

    Good article! I’ve been mentally imagining these match-ups throughout the whole bracket so far.

  2. mike1246
    March 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    All the more reason to consider a Sweet Sixteen football playoff each year for the top 16 college teams.

    • Hank
      March 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      That would be awesome. Surprisingly, there are a lot of so-called college football fans who say they don’t want that. I guess they don’t like Cinderella teams spoiling the big boys’ good ole boys club.

  3. Dan
    March 24, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Shame that UK and WVU don’t play more often considering the close proximity.

  4. james
    March 24, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    how have Oklahoma-Michigan st never played each other

  5. tony
    March 24, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Michigan state record vs big 12 doesn’t include decsicive home and hone losses to Nebraska in 90 s . Original big 8 teams should count toward big 12 records. Same conference with expansion with SWC Leftovers

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