A perfect season is a sports season including any requisite playoff portion, in which a team remains and finishes undefeated and untied. The feat is extremely rare at the professional level of any team sport, and has occurred more commonly at the collegiate and scholastic levels in the United States. A perfect regular season (known by other names outside the United States of America) is a season excluding any playoffs, where a team remains undefeated and untied; it is less rare than a complete perfect season but still exceptional.
A perfect season may be part of a multi-season winning streak.
Exhibition games are generally not counted toward standings, for or against. For example, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (below) lost three of their preseason ("exhibition" games in 1972 NFL vernacular) games but are considered to have had a perfect season.
National Football League
Since the National Football League began in 1920, only one team has played a perfect season (both regular season and playoffs): the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who won all fourteen of their regular season games and three postseason games, including Super Bowl VII, to finish the season 17–0–0.
The next year the Dolphins extended their winning streak to 18 before losing their second game to the Oakland Raiders on September 23, 1973. It has often been reported that the surviving members of the 1972 Dolphins would, every season, either gather to drink champagne when the final undefeated team earned its first loss of the year, or send a case of champagne to the team who beat this final undefeated team. The head coach of the 1972 Dolphins, Don Shula, denied this in a 2007 interview with ESPN. On August 20, 2013, four decades after their accomplishment, President Barack Obama hosted the 1972 Dolphins noting that they "never got their White House visit".
NFL undefeated seasons (with ties) prior to 1932
Prior to the development of a playoff system in the NFL in 1932, there were four teams who completed seasons undefeated, but with one or more tied games: the 1920 Akron Pros, the 1922 Canton Bulldogs, the 1923 Canton Bulldogs, and the 1929 Green Bay Packers. According to the 2012 NFL Record & Fact Book, under NFL practices at the time, from 1920 to 1971 tie games were not included in winning percentage (there was also no overtime to settle ties in the regular season until 1974) so, these four teams were recorded with perfect win percentages of 1.000.
The 1921 Buffalo All-Americans were controversially denied a similar type of near-undefeated season, when they believed that their final game, a 10-7 loss to the Chicago Staleys, was an exhibition game which would not count in the final standings; the NFL records that game as official, and Buffalo's record as 9–1–2.
|1920 Akron Pros season||8||0||3||1 game canceled|
|1922 Canton Bulldogs season||10||0||2||-|
|1923 Canton Bulldogs season||11||0||1||-|
|1929 Green Bay Packers season||12||0||1||-|
Other NFL perfect regular seasons
In 1934, the Bears played a 13–0–0 regular season and became the first NFL team to complete an undefeated regular season without tied games, but lost the 1934 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants. Despite losing several players and head coach George Halas to military service in World War II, the 1942 Bears finished 11–0–0 but again lost the NFL Championship Game, this time against the Washington Redskins.
The 2007 Patriots became the first team after the NFL expanded its regular season to sixteen games in 1978 to finish the regular season undefeated. The Patriots then won their divisional and conference playoff games, but were upset by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII in a dramatic fashion, giving them a final record of 18–1.
|Team||Wins||Losses||Playoff results||Final result|
|1934 Chicago Bears season||13||0||Lost NFL Championship Game against New York Giants||13–1|
|1942 Chicago Bears season||11||0||Lost NFL Championship Game against Washington Redskins||11–1|
|1972 Miami Dolphins season||14||0||Won three playoff games including Super Bowl VII||17–0|
|2007 New England Patriots season||16||0||Won two playoff games before losing in Super Bowl XLII against New York Giants||18–1|
Pre-NFL era and competing leagues
NFL predecessors such as the Ohio League, New York Pro Football League and Western Pennsylvania Professional Football Circuit had many perfect seasons. In Ohio, the Massillon Tigers (1904, 1905), Akron Indians (1909), Shelby Blues (1911), and Dayton Triangles (1918) all had perfect seasons during this era. In New York, the Buffalo Niagaras went 5–0–0 (6–0–0 including a forfeit) in a league that consisted of teams entirely from the city of Buffalo in 1918. In 1920, the Union Club of Phoenixville, located in eastern Pennsylvania, played in a league mostly consisting of local teams and earned a perfect season, claiming for itself a mythical national championship. In western Pennsylvania, the 1900 and 1901 Homestead Library and Athletic Club teams, as well as the 1903 Franklin Athletic Club, all had perfect seasons.
The caliber of talent was neither as high nor as consistent between teams at the time, the seasons were generally shorter (7 to 11 games), and it was not uncommon for top teams to play all their games at home while lesser teams played all of their games on the road. In 1918, Dayton and Buffalo had the additional advantage of having its strongest competitors suspend operations due to the Spanish flu and the First World War, restrictions that also prevented the two teams from playing each other. Thus, it was much easier to earn a perfect season than it would become in the NFL.
1937 Los Angeles Bulldogs
The Los Angeles Bulldogs were a member of the second American Football League, who joined the league in 1937 after the Cleveland Rams defected to the NFL. Playing a combination of AFL teams and independent franchises (such as the Providence Steam Roller and the Salinas Packers), the team went 16–0, with 8 of those wins coming against AFL teams. The Bulldogs’ dominance is cited as one of the key factors in the AFL's demise, and the next season as an independent with a 10–2–2 record including a 2–1–2 record against NFL teams, several of the team's players were invited to play on the "Pro All Stars" team in the NFL's first Pro All-Star Game in Los Angeles. The Bulldogs are considered to be one of the few independent teams to have ever achieved parity with the NFL.
1948 Cleveland Browns
The Browns were a member of the All-America Football Conference, a professional football league that played from 1946 to 1949. In 1948, the Browns won all fourteen regular season games and the 1948 AAFC championship to post a 15–0–0 record. Cleveland's perfect 1948 season was part of a longer string of 29 straight wins, which stretched from 1947 to 1949 and included both the 1947 and 1948 title games. Overall, the Browns won all four AAFC championship games and were accepted into the NFL when the two leagues merged after the 1949 season.
Neither the NFL nor the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizes the Bulldogs’ perfect season; the Hall of Fame recognizes the Browns’ perfect season but the NFL does not.
Close to perfect
Since the NFL expanded to a fourteen-game regular season in 1961, eleven teams have had regular seasons with one loss and no ties (or better) while failing to achieve a perfect season:
|Team||Wins||Losses||Playoff results||Final result|
|1962 Green Bay Packers||13||1||Won NFL Championship Game||14–1|
|1967 Oakland Raiders||13||1||Won AFL Championship Game before losing Super Bowl II||14–2|
|1968 Baltimore Colts||13||1||Won two playoff games before losing Super Bowl III||15–2|
|1976 Oakland Raiders||13||1||Won three playoff games including Super Bowl XI||16–1|
|1984 San Francisco 49ers||15||1||Won three playoff games including Super Bowl XIX||18–1|
|1985 Chicago Bears||15||1||Won three playoff games including Super Bowl XX||18–1|
|1998 Minnesota Vikings||15||1||Won one playoff game before losing NFC Championship Game||16–2|
|2004 Pittsburgh Steelers||15||1||Won one playoff game before losing AFC Championship Game||16–2|
|2007 New England Patriots||16||0||Won two playoff games before losing Super Bowl XLII||18–1|
|2011 Green Bay Packers||15||1||Lost divisional round game after wild card round bye||15–2|
|2015 Carolina Panthers||15||1||Won two playoff games before losing Super Bowl 50||17–2|
Most of these teams suffered their regular-season loss early in the year and, other than the 2007 Patriots (started regular season and playoffs 18–0), only the 1962 Packers (10–0), 1985 Bears (12–0), 2011 Packers (13–0), and 2015 Panthers (14–0) were on track for a perfect season when they lost. Coincidentally, the 1985 Bears’ lone loss came to the Miami Dolphins.
The best start from an NFL team who failed to complete a perfect regular season is shared by two teams: the 2009 Indianapolis Colts, who started 14–0 before losing their final two regular season games to the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills to finish 14–2, and the 2015 Carolina Panthers, who went 14–0 before losing to the Atlanta Falcons and going on to finish the regular season 15–1. The 2009 Colts, having clinched the top seed in the AFC, sacrificed their chances at a perfect regular season and instead rested their starters the final two games to protect them for the playoffs. The Colts would go on to Super Bowl XLIV but lost to the New Orleans Saints. The 2015 Panthers were not resting their starters at the time of their loss (at the time, the Arizona Cardinals were 13–2 and still had an opportunity to surpass the Panthers for the top seed in the NFC).
Four other teams have started 13–0 before losing their fourteenth game: the 1998 Denver Broncos, 2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2009 New Orleans Saints and 2011 Green Bay Packers (Of those near-perfect seasons, the 2011 Packers are the only team that did not win a single playoff game). The 1998 Broncos, 2005 Colts and 2009 Saints lost at least two of their final three games but the Broncos and Saints recovered to win the Super Bowl. The 1953 Cleveland Browns and 1969 Los Angeles Rams started 11–0 in twelve- and fourteen-game seasons respectively; both lost their only playoff game.
The following is a list of teams in minor or alternate leagues that compiled perfect seasons of six games or more, including postseason games, with no ties:
- The Hollywood Bears, a member of the Pacific Coast Professional Football League, went 8–0–0 in 1941.
- The Hollywood Rangers were a member of the American Football League of 1944 (formerly the Northwest War Industries League), a short-lived competitor to the Pacific Coast Professional Football League on the West Coast. In their 1944 season, they went 11–0–0 and defeated the PCPFL champion San Diego Bombers (who had also had a perfect season in their league, going 9–0–0) in a two-game series.
- The Charleston Rockets of the Continental Football League won all 14 games of the league's inaugural season in 1965, going on to defeat the Toronto Rifles in the league's championship.
- The Hartford Knights went 17–0–0 in 1972 as a member of the Seaboard Football League, including a victory over the Chambersburg Cardinals in the league's championship. The Knights, unhappy with the level of competition (many of the Knights games had margins of victory of 40 points or more), quit the league the following year.
In indoor football, the following teams have had perfect seasons:
- The Quad City Steamwheelers went undefeated in the inaugural season of arenafootball2, accruing a record of 19–0–0 including playoffs and an ArenaCup I win.
- The Ohio Valley Greyhounds of the National Indoor Football League accrued a perfect season in 2003.
- The Sioux Falls Storm of United Indoor Football won back-to-back perfect seasons in 2006 and 2007, winning the United Bowl championship both years.
- The Fayetteville Guard won a perfect season in 2007 in the NIFL.
- The Rochester Raiders won a perfect season in 2008 in the Continental Indoor Football League, but withdrew from that league during the playoffs in a dispute.
- The Chicago Slaughter won a perfect season in 2009 in the CIFL.
- The Baltimore Mariners won a perfect season in 2010 in the American Indoor Football Association.
- The Erie Explosion won a perfect season in 2013 in the Continental Indoor Football league, winning all ten regular season games, a semifinal playoff, and the CIFL Championship.
At least twenty-three other semi-professional football teams have had perfect seasons, seven of them being at least 17 games long. The Chambersburg Cardinals won a record 72 straight games between 1977 and 1984.
There have been no perfect seasons (or even perfect regular seasons) in the American Association, World Football League, United States Football League, original XFL, or, to date, the Arena Football League or Alliance of American Football. The United Football League has had two perfect regular seasons, but neither qualify for the list: the 2009 Florida Tuskers finished 6–0, but that team lost the subsequent championship game; the 2012 Las Vegas Locomotives had a record of 4–0 when the league abruptly suspended operations halfway through the season. Likewise, the 2020 Houston Roughnecks of the second incarnation of the XFL were undefeated at 5–0 at the time the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
The 1933 Providence Huskies (possibly a successor to the Providence Steam Roller) played arguably the most perfect season ever recorded by a professional or semi-professional team: a ten-game season in which they won every game and did not concede a single point during any game.
Leagues outside North America
In the 2014 German Football League the Braunschweig Lions compiled a perfect season (12–0 postseason 3–0), losing only in the BIG6 European Football League which is a different competition. They crowned the season with another German Bowl triumph. Similarly in the 2016 German Football League the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns achieved a perfect regular season with a 14–0 record, similarly their lone defeat came in the BIG6 European Football League which is not considered for league standings. However, unlike Braunschweig before them, Schwäbisch Hall ultimately lost the German Bowl, in this case to Braunschweig. In the 2017 German Football League season, Schwäbisch Hall once more compiled a perfect season (14-0) but this time also won the German Bowl, again against Braunschweig. Interestingly, their opponent in the final had also entered the game with a 14-0 regular season record.
A true perfect season (no losses and no ties through the regular season and playoffs) has never been achieved in professional Canadian football. Only one team, the 1948 Calgary Stampeders, has completed a perfect regular season.
The current Canadian Football League schedule would require a team to win 20 games (18 regular season, 1 playoff after bye week, and the Grey Cup championship) to post a perfect record.
1948 Calgary Stampeders
Under head coach Les Lear, the 1948 Calgary Stampeders completed a perfect regular season with a record of 12–0; they had two wins and a tie during the playoffs to finish with a record of 14–0–1, the only undefeated complete season in Canadian pro history. In the Western Interprovincial Football Union championship (a home-and-home aggregate series decided on total points) against the Regina Roughriders, the first leg was tied 4–4, and the Stampeders won the second 21–10, to win the aggregate 25–14. The Stampeders then defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 12–7 for the 36th Grey Cup.
Despite the Stampeders' title, their achievement was only lightly regarded in the East. At the time, the Eastern and Western unions played separate regular seasons and only met in the Grey Cup. The Western union was openly regarded to be a weaker competition in the East, and Calgary's win (only the third for a Western team up to that time) was dismissed as a fluke.
In professional lacrosse, the 1993 Buffalo Bandits are the only team to have won a perfect season in the National Lacrosse League. The Bandits won all eight of their regular season games and won the championship in a two-round tournament; the season was the continuation of a multi-season winning streak that dated to the Bandits’ successful run for the previous year's championship.
In Major League Lacrosse, which began play in 2001, the 2013 Denver Outlaws were the first team to complete a perfect regular season, winning all fourteen of their games. After beating the Hamilton Nationals, the Outlaws had a sequence of twenty consecutive regular season wins despite losing the 2012 championship. However, the Outlaws lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Charlotte Hounds, who had only gone 7–7 in the regular season.
Other North American professional sports leagues
In North America's three other major professional sports leagues (Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League) it is almost impossible for a team to play a “perfect” season, primarily because there are substantially more games in the regular season (82 in the NBA and NHL, and 162 in Major League Baseball). The Women's National Basketball Association‘s season has been between 28 and 36 games long, and it too has never produced a perfect season.
It is possible for a baseball pitcher to achieve a perfect season, taking at least one win and any number of no-decisions throughout the year. This has happened 1813 times in baseball's history, though the majority (1171) were 1–0 seasons, mostly by relief pitchers. The best perfect season belongs to Tom Zachary of the 1929 New York Yankees, who posted a 12–0 record in 119.2 innings. No pitcher has ever achieved a perfect season while qualifying for the ERA title.
In the NHL, the 1976–77 Montreal Canadiens played nearly a perfect home season. They went 39-1 (.975) at home, their lone loss coming on October 30, 1976 against the Boston Bruins. The Canadiens only lost 8 games all year, finishing with a 60-8-12 record.
In the NBA, the 1985–86 Boston Celtics played a nearly perfect home season. During the regular season, they were 40–1 (.976) in front of their home crowd. The Celtics' only regular-season home loss occurred on December 6, 1985, to the Portland Trail Blazers, by the score of 121–103. The Celtics would also win all 10 of their home games in the postseason, to finish 50–1 at home. The 2015–16 San Antonio Spurs also played a nearly perfect home regular-season with a 40-1 (.976) record in front of their home crowd, with their only home loss occurring on April 10, 2016 vs. the Golden State Warriors by the score of 92-86. The Spurs were eliminated in the Western Conference Semi-Finals by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Spurs played a total of 5 home games in the post season, finishing 43-3 at home, losing twice to the Thunder. The three-on-three basketball league BIG3, which featured an eight-game regular season and two-round playoff, had a perfect team in its inaugural season when Trilogy swept all ten games on their schedule.
Individual professional sports
For other sports leagues for individuals, such as the PGA Tour or NASCAR, a perfect season would represent winning every event in a season. Considering the number of tournaments or races in those leagues, and the fact that each individual faces over 40 opponents as opposed to one, a perfect season is almost impossible.
Golf instead considers the Grand Slam, a sweep of the four men's major golf championships deemed to be the most difficult contests in professional golf, to be analogous to perfection. The only time the Grand Slam has been swept in any given year was 1930, when Bobby Jones won all four majors (at the time, The (British) Amateur Championship and U.S. Amateur were still considered majors); since 1934, when The Masters was added as a major, no player has won all four in one year. Tiger Woods is the only professional golfer to win four consecutive professional majors; he did so over two years in 2000 and 2001. The record for most consecutive wins in professional golf is 11, set Byron Nelson in 1945; Nelson would win 18 tournaments overall that year, a year when wartime manpower shortages were still limiting the number and quality of professional golfers for Nelson to compete against.
In Formula One, prior to 1991, a driver could only count a certain number of his or her best results towards the championship, meaning it was possible to score 100 percent of the maximum championship points without winning every race in the season. This was accomplished by Alberto Ascari in 1952 and twice by Jim Clark in 1963 and 1965, both of his championship seasons. The record for most wins in a season is 13, accomplished by Michael Schumacher in 2004 (in 18 races) and by Sebastian Vettel in 2013 (in 19 races). The record for the highest percentage of wins in a season is held by Ascari for his 1952 effort in which he won 6 out of 8 (75.00%) races on the calendar.
In IndyCar, A. J. Foyt won 10 out of 13 races. In NASCAR, Richard "The King" Petty holds most of the records for most wins in a season; he won 27 races out of 48 appearances in 1967, 10 of them consecutive. Since a format change in 1972, Petty also holds the modern-era record for most wins in a season, with 13, a record he shares with Jeff Gordon.
Professional motorcycle racer Ricky Carmichael had perfect seasons in 2002 and 2004. In 1997, road racer Tommy Kendall started the 13-race SCCA Trans-Am Series season 11–0, the longest documentable win streak in worldwide professional road racing. In the 12th race, he was battling for the lead on the final lap, but spun out and finished second. The feat would be extremely difficult in NASCAR, because of the length of the season (currently 36 races).
American collegiate sports
In 1966 Waynesburg College went 11–0 after a 9–0 regular season record. In December 1966 Waynesburg defeated New Mexico Highlands in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the playoff game, and, defeated Whitewater Wisconsin in the NAIA Champion Bowl at Tulsa Oklahoma. This was, and still is a college football rarity. Very few college football teams have won a College National Football Championship (including playoff games) with an undefeated record.
Due to relatively short seasons through most of college football history, the list of undefeated Division I football teams includes dozens of teams. The highest level of college football, the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (introduced as Division I-A in 1978), did not use a playoff to determine a champion prior to the introduction of the four-team College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2014. The system replaced by the CFP relied on a combination of polls and computer rankings to choose two teams to play one title game in a system known as the Bowl Championship Series. Prior to 1992, no attempt was made to match up the top two teams in a championship game, further increasing the chances of multiple teams achieving a perfect season. The record for most wins in an undefeated FBS season is 15-0 accomplished in the 2018/19 season by Clemson Tigers Football Team and in the 2019/2020 season by the LSU Tigers football team. Following that the record is 14–0, accomplished in 2002 by Ohio State, twice in 2009 by Boise State and Alabama, in 2010 by Auburn, and in 2013 by Florida State.
The University of Washington's FBS record 64-game unbeaten streak included five straight perfect seasons from 1909–13. The University of Oklahoma's FBS record 47 game winning streak included three straight perfect seasons from 1954–56.
Many teams had undefeated seasons in which they never allowed another team to score a point against them. The 1901–02 Michigan Wolverines football team outscored its opponents 550–0.
NCAA Division I Basketball
Before the establishment of the National Invitation Tournament in 1938 and the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 1939, perfect seasons were more common; each season consisted of fewer games and top teams from different parts of the country might never meet.
Eight teams have completed perfect seasons, including postseason tournament victories, since the tournament era began in 1938:
- 1939 LIU Blackbirds (24–0) — NIT champion, which at the time was more prestigious than the NCAA tournament
- 1956 San Francisco Dons (29–0) – NCAA champion
- 1957 North Carolina Tar Heels (32–0) – NCAA champion
- 1964 UCLA Bruins (30–0) – NCAA champion
- 1967 UCLA Bruins (30–0) – NCAA champion
- 1972 UCLA Bruins (30–0) – NCAA champion
- 1973 UCLA Bruins (30–0) – NCAA champion
- 1976 Indiana Hoosiers (32–0) – NCAA champion
In addition, four other teams in the tournament era had unbeaten records, but did not play in any postseason tournament:
- 1940 Seton Hall Pirates (19–0) — not invited to either the NCAA Tournament or NIT.
- 1944 Army Cadets (15–0) — not invited to either the NCAA Tournament or NIT. (Given that this season was during World War II, it is also possible that Army chose to turn down tournament invitations.)
- 1954 Kentucky Wildcats (25–0) — declined a bid to the NCAA Tournament due to an NCAA ruling that graduate students could not compete.
- 1973 NC State Wolfpack (27–0) — ineligible for postseason competition due to rule violations earlier that season.
The UCLA Bruins are the only team to have back-to-back perfect seasons (1971–1972, 1972–1973), and all four of the college's perfect seasons were under Hall of Fame head coach John Wooden.
The following teams completed a perfect regular season, but lost in the NCAA Tournament or other postseason action:
- 1939 Loyola Ramblers (finished regular season 20–0 and lost in the NIT final to LIU to finish 21–1)
- 1941 Seton Hall Pirates (finished regular season 19–0; lost in the NIT semifinals to LIU and third-place game to CCNY to finish 20–2)
- 1951 Columbia Lions (finished 21–1 after losing in the first round)
- 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes (finished 27–1 after losing in the championship game to Cincinnati)
- 1968 Houston Cougars (finished regular season 28–0, then lost the semifinal and consolation games at the Final Four)
- 1968 St. Bonaventure Bonnies (finished regular season 22–0, lost in regional semifinals)
- 1971 Penn Quakers (finished the regular season 26–0, lost in the regional finals)
- 1971 Marquette Warriors (finished regular season 26–0, lost in regional semifinals)
- 1975 Indiana Hoosiers (finished regular season 29–0, but lost to Kentucky in the Mideast Regional final)
- 1976 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (finished regular season 28–0, won 3 more games in the NCAA Tournament to go to 31–0, but lost in the Final Four to Michigan and in the consolation game to UCLA)
- 1979 Indiana State Sycamores (finished regular season 29–0, but lost in the championship game to Michigan State. Finished 33–1.)
- 1979 Alcorn State Braves finished the regular season with a perfect 27–0 record, but were not invited to the NCAA Tournament. The Braves lost in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament to Indiana.
- 1991 UNLV Runnin' Rebels (entered the tournament 30–0, lost in the Final Four to eventual champion Duke. Finished 34–1.)
- 2004 Saint Joseph's Hawks (finished the regular season 27–0, lost to Xavier in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament. Finished 30–2 after losing to Oklahoma State in the NCAA East Regional final.)
- 2014 Wichita State Shockers (entered the tournament 34–0, lost to eventual runner-up Kentucky in the Round of 32. Finished 35–1.)
- 2015 Kentucky Wildcats (entered the tournament 34–0, lost to Wisconsin in the Final Four. Finished 38–1.)
In the women's game, the following national championship teams have had perfect records since the AIAW began sponsoring a championship tournament in 1972 (which was followed by the NCAA tournament in 1982):
- 1973 Immaculata Mighty Macs (20–0)
- 1975 Delta State Lady Statesmen (28–0)
- 1981 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (34–0)
- 1986 Texas Longhorns (34–0)
- 1995 Connecticut Huskies (35–0)
- 1998 Tennessee Lady Vols (39–0)
- 2002 Connecticut Huskies (39–0)
- 2009 Connecticut Huskies (39–0)
- 2010 Connecticut Huskies (39–0)
- 2012 Baylor Lady Bears (40–0)
- 2014 Connecticut Huskies (40–0)
- 2016 Connecticut Huskies (38–0)
The following teams completed perfect regular seasons, but lost in the NCAA Tournament or other postseason action:
- The 1983 Oral Roberts Lady Titans (now nicknamed Golden Eagles) finished the regular season 24–0, but were not invited to the NCAA Tournament. They played in the National Women's Invitational Tournament, losing to Memphis State (now known as Memphis) in the second round. After winning a consolation game against Weber State, they finished the season 26–1.
- The 1990 Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters entered the NCAA Tournament at 28–0, but lost in the Final Four to Auburn to finish 32–1.
- The Vermont Catamounts were unbeaten entering the NCAA Tournament in both 1992 (29–0) and 1993 (28–0). They lost in the first round to George Washington in 1992 and Rutgers in 1993.
- The 1997 Connecticut Huskies entered the NCAA Tournament at 30–0, but lost in the final of the Midwest Regional to eventual national champion Tennessee, finishing 33–1.
- The 1998 Liberty Lady Flames entered the NCAA Tournament 28–0, but were seeded #16 in the Mideast Region and matched against Tennessee, with the Lady Vols crushing the Lady Flames 102–58.
- The 2003 Connecticut Huskies finished the regular season at 29–0, but lost to Villanova in the final of the Big East Tournament, ending their then-record winning streak at 70 games. The Huskies went on to win the NCAA Tournament, finishing 37–1.
- The 2007 Duke Blue Devils finished the regular season at 29–0, but lost in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament to North Carolina State. In the NCAA Tournament, they lost in the semifinals of the Greensboro Regional to Rutgers to finish 32–2.
- The 2010 Nebraska Cornhuskers finished the regular season at 29–0, but lost in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament to Texas A&M. In the NCAA Tournament, they lost in the semifinals of the Kansas City Regional to Kentucky to finish 32–2.
- The 2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish entered the NCAA Tournament at 32–0 and lost in the championship game to Connecticut, finishing 37–1.
- The 2015 Princeton Tigers entered the NCAA Tournament at 30–0 and lost in the second round to Maryland to finish 31–1.
- The 2017 Connecticut Huskies entered the NCAA Tournament at 32–0 and lost in the national semifinals to Mississippi State to finish 36–1.
- The 2018 Connecticut Huskies entered the NCAA Tournament at 32–0 but lost to Notre Dame to finish 36–1.
Notably, the 2015–16 season saw all three NCAA women's champions finish with unbeaten seasons. In Division II, Lubbock Christian went 34–0. In Division III, Thomas More went 33–0 for the second straight season.
NCAA Ice Hockey
Among schools in the top level of men's ice hockey, the 1969–70 Cornell Big Red went 29–0–0 in the University Division (the predecessor to today's Division I) en route to a national championship.
Since Cornell's 29–0–0 season in 1969–70, the closest Division I Men's Ice Hockey Team to having a perfect season was the 1992–93 Maine Black Bears, who finished that year at 42–1–2, including a national title game victory against Lake Superior State. Their only loss came on February 19, 1993, against Boston University, where they lost 7-6 in overtime, and their only ties were on October 24 against Providence, 3-3, and on January 15 against Clarkson, 4-4.
The last men's team to finish unbeaten and untied and be national champions was the 1983–84 Bemidji State Beavers (31–0–0), who were then competing in Division II, a level of competition that no longer conducts a championship.
The 1955–56 Clarkson Golden Knights were undefeated and untied (23–0–0), but skipped the NCAA tournament because as the team had seniors with four years of college play which was against NCAA tournament rules at the time (not regular season rules).
The 1967–68 Iona Gaels went 16–0–0 in their inaugural season as an independent in Division III, but did not participate in a national championship as none existed for Division III at that time.
The most recent unbeaten and untied season in NCAA ice hockey at the highest level was in 2012–13 when the Minnesota Golden Gophers became the first NCAA women's team ever to accomplish the feat (41–0–0).
Canadian collegiate sports
U Sports Canadian Football
1975 University of Ottawa Gee Gees
In 1975 the number-one-ranked University of Ottawa Gee Gees had the first Canadian Interuniversity Sport (now U Sports) undefeated season. After completing their perfect regular season at 8–0, the Gees Gees won their first play-off defeating the number-two-ranked Toronto Varsity Blues 14–7. The Gees Gees then demolished the Windsor Lancers 45–6 to win the Yates Cup and the right to play for the national championship and the Vanier Cup. The undefeated season was completed on November 21, 1975, when the Gee Gees defeated the University of Calgary Dinos 14–9 at CNE Stadium in Toronto. That night the Gee Gees became the first undefeated team in CIS and Vanier Cup history. The 1975 Gees Gees roster had a big impact on the CFL. Gee Gee Players from the 1975 team played in the CFL for a cumulative total of 96 years and throughout their professional careers in the CFL accomplished: one Canadian Football Hall of Fame Inductee, one Grey Cup Canadian MVP, two Frank M. Gibson Trophies for Outstanding Rookie Eastern Division, two CFL Leo Dandurand Trophy Outstanding Lineman Eastern Division, twenty CFL and Divisional All-Star Selections, twenty-three Grey Cup Appearances and a total of twelve Grey Cup rings.
2003, 2005 Saskatchewan Huskies
In 2003 and 2005, the Saskatchewan Huskies completed perfect regular seasons. However, in both years they lost in the playoffs: in the Vanier Cup to the Laurier Golden Hawks in 2005, and in the Canada West semi-final to Alberta Golden Bears in 2003.
2007 Manitoba Bisons
A perfect season was attained in 2007 by the Manitoba Bisons, the football squad representing the University of Manitoba, located in Winnipeg. The Bisons were undefeated in Canada West Universities Athletic Association play during the 8-game schedule. In the playoffs, Manitoba comfortably handled the Calgary Dinos 27–5 in the opening round. The Bisons followed up with a 48–5 defeat of the Regina Rams in the Hardy Trophy and a strong 52–20 showing against the perennial contenders from the University of Western Ontario, the Western Ontario Mustangs, in the Mitchell Bowl. On Friday, November 23, 2007, two days before the 95th Grey Cup game in Toronto, the Bisons defeated the Saint Mary's University squad, known as the Saint Mary's Huskies, 28–14 to claim their first Vanier Cup championship since 1970, and third overall title. That victory capped their perfect 12 win season.
2010 Laval Rouge et Or
In 2010, the Laval Rouge et Or located in Quebec City, had a perfect season of 13–0. They were undefeated with an 8–0 record in the QUFL. During the playoffs, they beat the Bishop's Gaiters 56–1 in the opening round. The Rouge et Or won the QUFL championship and the Dunsmore Cup by a close win of 22–17 against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or. They followed with a win of 13–11 against the Western Ontario Mustangs in the Uteck Bowl. Finally, on Saturday, November 27, 2010, in their home stadium in Quebec City, they won the Vanier Cup 29–2 against the Calgary Dinos, capping a 13–0 season.
U Sports Hockey
The 1972–73 University of Toronto Varsity Blues (22–0–0) are the only men's hockey team in U Sports to win a national championship with no losses and no ties in the regular season and post season. The Varsity Blues won all 17 regular season games to place first in the Ontario University Athletics Association's East Division. In sudden death OUAA playoff action, the U of T defeated the University of Waterloo 13–2 and the University of Western Ontario 8–1. The University of Toronto downed the University of Alberta 5–2 and 5–3 in the University Cup semi final at Edmonton and shaded St. Mary's University 3–2 in the University Cup final at Toronto.
The 1975–76 St. Clair College Saints (26–0–0) of Windsor, Ontario were the first of two Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men's hockey teams to go unbeaten and untied in the regular season and post season en route to a national title. After winning all 20 regular season games to finish atop the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association's Western Division, St. Clair outscored Fanshawe 5–2 and 6–3 to win the division playoff series and advance to the conference championships where they topped Algonquin 8–2 and Humber 11–2. At the CCAA Hockey National Championships in Camrose, Alberta, St. Clair downed Cape Breton 10–4 in the semi final and Selkirk 11–2 in the final.
The 1984–85 Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks (33–0–0) of Edmonton won all 25 of their regular season games in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference prior to sweeping the Camrose Lutheran College Vikings in a best-of-three conference semifinal series and the Red Deer College Kings in a best-of-five conference final series. At the CCAA Hockey National Championships in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, NAIT outscored the Cariboo College Chiefs 8–2, the Seneca College Braves 5–2 and the Victoriaville College Vulkins 9–2 to hoist the CCAA Championship Bowl.
Australian rules football
Australian Football League (AFL)/Victorian Football League (VFL)
The VFL began in 1897. Based entirely in the state of Victoria, before it expanded through the 1980s, and 1990s to become the top level national league (AFL) in the sport of Australian rules football. The length of a complete season (including finals matches) has typically been between 18 and 26 games. Throughout the history of the league, no team has ever completed a perfect season. One team, Collingwood in 1929, completed a perfect home-and-away season, finishing with a record of 18–0; the club won the premiership, but did not complete a perfect season after losing the second semi-final against Richmond.
South Australian National Football League (SANFL)
The SANFL has existed since 1877 within South Australia, and until the latter part of the twentieth century was of equivalent standard to the VFL. The only perfect season to be completed was by the 1914 Port Adelaide team, known as the "Invincibles". Port won all four of its pre season matches. It finished the minor round with a 12–0 record, before winning both finals to finish with a 14–0 record and a perfect season. They also won the Championship of Australia against VFL premiers Carlton, to extend that record to 15–0. In addition to this the club played a combined team from all the other SAFL clubs and won to extend the record to 16–0. The closest any team got to Port Adelaide was North Adelaide, losing by 21 points in Round 10. This is the only instance in The Big Three Australian football leagues (VFL/SANFL/WAFL) where a club has gone undefeated in the pre-season, season main and post season.
West Australian Football League (WAFL)
The WAFL has existed since 1885 within Western Australia, and until the latter part of the 20th century was of equivalent standard to either the VFL or SANFL. The 1946 East Fremantle team was the first club in senior WAFL football[a] to have managed a perfect season, winning all twenty-one of its games; it is noted that the playing lists of many of its opponents had been seriously depleted by World War II. The only loss for the season came against Victorian club Collingwood in a post season exhibition match. The 2018 Subiaco team was the second team to complete a perfect season, winning all of its 18 games in the minor round before winning both their second-semi-final against South Fremantle and the Grand Final against West Perth.
Victorian Football Association (VFA/VFL)
The Victorian Football League, known until 1996 as the Victorian Football Association, began in 1877 and was Victoria's premier football league until 1897, and has been the second-tier league in the state since. Perfect seasons have been completed on four occasions in VFA/VFL history:
- by North Melbourne during a war-shortened 1915, with a record of 15–0
- by North Melbourne in 1918, which was also shortened by the war, with a record of 12–0;
- by Geelong West in 1972 Division 2, with a record of 20–0
- by Port Melbourne in 2011, with a record of 21–0.
There were also cases of teams going undefeated through the season in the nineteenth century, but none completed perfect seasons because some of their matches were drawn. Of those, Geelong could be interpreted as having been perfect in 1879; it had a record of 15–0–1, and the draw came by agreement when a match was abandoned due to inclement weather.
Four other teams have completed perfect home-and-away seasons, but subsequently lost finals matches:
- North Melbourne in 1919 won all eighteen home-and-away games before losing to Brunswick in the second-semi-final and Footscray in the Grand Final.
- Coburg in 1927 won all eighteen home-and away games before drawing with Port Melbourne in the second semi final, losing the replay, then winning the Grand Final.
- Coburg in 1945 won all twenty home-and-away games before losing to Williamstown in the second semi-final and being eliminated by Port Melbourne in the preliminary final.
- Williamstown in 1957 won all twenty home-and-away games before losing to Moorabbin in the second semi final, and being eliminated by Port Melbourne in the preliminary final.
National Rugby League
The National Rugby League has existed since 1908, being originally known as the New South Wales Rugby League and before the Super League war of 1995 as the Australian Rugby League. In its history, only one team has completed a perfect season: the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1925, who won all twelve games contested.
Brisbane Rugby League
The Brisbane Rugby League premiership began in 1909 and continued in varying forms until 1996, after which it was superseded by the Queensland Cup. Between the 1930s and the 1960s it was of comparable standard to the New South Wales Rugby Football League, but subsequently a huge drain of players to Sydney eroded the standard of play. Before World War II seasons were typically no more than twelve games long; however as the competition grew it was expanded to 21 games by 1960. The only BRL teams to manage a perfect season were:
|1955||Fortitude Valley||20||0||0||Longest perfect season in Australian rugby league.|
|1920||Western Suburbs||15||0||0||Season was split into two halves, plus the finals|
The following team managed an undefeated season but drew one game:
|1922||Western Suburbs||11||0||1||Season was split into two halves, plus the finals, of which Wests won both.|
Team would fall to last in 1923 with just two victories.
The following teams managed an undefeated home-and-away season, but subsequently lost finals matches:
|1938||Fortitude Valley||11||1||0||Went 10–0–0 in home-and-away season and won the major semi-final, but lost Grand Final 16–10 to Northern Suburbs.|
|1930||Carlton||11||1||1||Went 9–0–1 in regular season and won semi-final.|
Lost Final to Fortitude Valley 0–10, but bounced back to win Grand Final 19–8 against same opponent.
British Rugby League
Whilst no rugby league team in Britain has completed the perfect season in the top flight, this has been achieved on two occasions in lower divisions, once in the 2nd division and once in the 3rd. Hull F.C. achieved this feat in the 1978–79 Season, where they won 26 from 26 games, gaining promotion to the top division for the second time in three seasons. This was also achieved by the Dewsbury Rams in 2009 during their Championship 1 (third division) season where they won all 18 games from a possible 18, winning promotion immediately after being relegated the previous season where they won just two games. Since their 2009 promotion, the Rams have so far stayed in the sports' second division, including two play off finishes.
The New Zealand All Blacks were the first professional rugby team to produce a perfect rugby test season in 2013. They successfully defeated France four times, Australia three times, South Africa and Argentina twice and also beat Japan, England and Ireland in their incredible winning run. They produced a record of 14–0–0, defeating the top 5 ranked teams below them in the IRB world rankings. England have matched this feat after producing a perfect test season in 2016 after recovering from getting knocked out of their own World Cup in 2015.
The Southern Hemisphere's principal team competition, Super Rugby, established as Super 12 in 1996 and later known as Super 14 before adopting its current name in 2011, has seen only one perfect season. The Crusaders, based in Christchurch and representing a large portion of the South Island of New Zealand, finished the 2002 Super 12 season with an 11–0–0 record and went on to win both of their finals matches to claim the season crown unbeaten.
One other team has won a championship unbeaten: in 1997, the Auckland Blues (known simply as "Blues" since 2000), which at the time represented the central and southern parts of the Auckland area plus some adjacent regions to the south, finished the regular season with one draw from 11 matches. They also won both of their finals matches to claim the title.
No association football team has ever achieved a perfect season, but some have achieved a perfect record in their respective domestic league competitions, although that feat itself is rare. The earliest known perfect league season is that of Rangers F.C. of Scotland who, in 1898-99, won all of their 18 Scottish League matches. Other football clubs to have achieved perfect league seasons since then are: Ferencvárosi of Hungary in 1931–32 (22 wins out of 22), Dresdner SC of Germany in 1942–43 (23), Sunrise Flacq United of Mauritius in 1995–96 (22), and Nacional of Uruguay in 1941 (20).
FIFA World Cup
The likelihood of a national team in the FIFA World Cup winning all its matches in regulation time to become the champion is much higher than most clubs in their domestic league, as the finals tournament in its current format lasts only seven games. This feat has happened three times, Uruguay in 1930, the inaugural tournament, and Brazil in 1970 and 2002. This is not counting the qualifying round of the tournament, which lasts over a year and has had a varied format since 1934. Only the Brazilian team of 1970 has won every game in the qualification and final rounds of a single tournament, a total of 13 games. As there was no qualifying phase for the 1930 tournament, Uruguay also won all the games they played to become champions. In 2010, the Netherlands came very close achieving the same feat as Brazil did in 1970. The Netherlands won 8 out of 8 qualifying games and went on to win the next 6 World Cup matches in regulation time only to lose in extra time to Spain in the final, ending with a 14–0–1 record. In 1998 France became the only host nation to win all seven games of the FIFA World Cup and win the tournament. In the quarter finals they won against Italy by penalties; however, wins (and also losses) on penalties are represented as a draw in statistics.
FIFA Women's World Cup
Through 2011, the likelihood of a national team winning all of its matches in the FIFA Women's World Cup was slightly greater than in the men's version. The Women's World Cup began in 1991 with 12 teams and expanded to 16 effective in 1999. Under both structures, the winning team only had to win six games (three in group play and three in the knockout stage) to win the title unbeaten. The tournament expanded to 24 teams in 2015, at which time the number of games that the champion must play increased to seven (the same total as in the men's World Cup).
The 2011 event, won by Japan, was the first in which the champion lost in group play; the other finalist, the United States, had also lost in group play. Each previous team to have won the title — the United States in 1991 and 1999, Norway in 1995, and Germany in 2003 and 2007 — won all of its group stage matches. In fact, only one of these teams, the United States in 1999, had a knockout match go to extra time—specifically the final against China, which ultimately went to a penalty shootout. Germany won all of its matches in the 2007 final tournament without giving up a goal, becoming the first team in either the men's or women's World Cup to accomplish this feat. The United States' third championship team in 2015 had one draw in the group stage; the next tournament, in 2019, the United States won all seven games in regulation, by a combined score of 26–3, en route to their fourth title.
As of the 2019 tournament, four undefeated, untied Women's World Cup champions also went through their qualifying stage without a loss or draw:
- United States, 1991 (5 wins, 49 goals for, 0 against)
- Germany, 2003 (6 wins, 30 goals for, 1 against)
- Germany, 2007 (8 wins, 31 goals for, 3 against)
- United States, 2019 (5 wins, 26 goals for, 0 against)
Of the other two teams to win the Women's World Cup without a loss or draw in the finals:
- Norway went through their 1995 qualification campaign with 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss.
- The United States automatically qualified for the 1999 edition as host.
In 2011/2012, German handball champion THW Kiel achieved a perfect season of as many as 34 matches. Additionally, the team also won the national DHB Cup and the international EHF Champions League.
In the Premijer liga the RK Zagreb is unbeaten for 11 years, they won 190 consecutive games, last time they lost against Osijek Motormodul (38:39) on 14.4.2007. In that 190 games they just have one tie with RK Poreč (31:31), after that game they won 178 games in a row and that row is still active.
- 2012–13 Turkish Women's Volleyball League,
- 2012–13 Turkish Women's Volleyball Cup,
- 2012–13 CEV Women's Champions League,
- 2013 Turkish Women's Volleyball Super Cup and
- 2013 FIVB Women's Club World Championship.
Vakıfbank İstanbul won 6 games in Turkish Women's Volleyball Cup, 12 games in CEV Women's Champions League, 29 games (22 league, 7 play-off games) in Turkish Women's Volleyball League, 1 game in Turkish Women's Volleyball Super Cup and 4 games in FIVB Volleyball Women's Club World Championship, and never lost in the 2012–13 Season. In addition, they won all 51 games they played in year 2013.
Having started Turkish Women's Volleyball League's 2013–14 Season with 13 wins and 2013–14 CEV Women's Champions League with 8 wins, they extended their winning streak to 73 games as of January 23, 2014.
Basketball leagues outside the NBA tend to be shorter than the NBA's 82-game season, thus making a perfect season more achievable.
Commonwealth Bank Trophy
The Commonwealth Bank Trophy was the main national netball competition in Australia from 1997 to 2007. There were eight teams in a double round robin format and finals.
The Sydney Swifts were the only team to achieve a perfect season, winning all fourteen regular season games and both their finals matches for a record of 16–0.
The ANZ Championship, the principal netball competition for Australia and New Zealand was established in 2008 to replace the Commonwealth Bank Trophy. Comprising ten teams (five from Australia and five from New Zealand) there has so far been one perfect season, by the Mission Queensland Firebirds, based in Brisbane, Queensland in 2011. The Firebirds won thirteen regular season games and both their finals matches for a record of 15–0. In 2010, the New South Wales Swifts managed to win all thirteen regular season games, but lost both of their finals matches and ended with a 13–2 for that year.
English first-class county cricket has existed as the top tier of domestic cricket in England since the middle nineteenth century, and until the 1950s it was up to the highest standard of the game. Seasons have varied in length: before the 1880s, they were generally less than ten matches in length and some "first-class" counties played only against one or two different opponents, so that a team winning all its games was not implausible. Between 1887 and 1929, seasons were gradually increased in length to a standard twenty-eight matches for all counties. However, because of the development and popularity of one-day cricket, seasons have been reduced to twenty-four games in 1969 and twenty in 1972, though this was increased by two in 1977 and 1983. With an increase to four days for all games, sixteen or seventeen games have been played since 1993.
Also, because of improvements to pitches via the heavy roller and covering to protect from rain, the proportion of games "drawn" (not finished) has steadily risen since the 1870s.
Since tables of results have been kept in 1864, the only team to have competed a true perfect season – winning outright every game – was Yorkshire in 1867 when led by George Freeman's and Tom Emmett's deadly fast bowling on uncovered and unrolled pitches, they won all seven county games.
Essex CCC achieved the feat in the Summer of 2017, with the bowling combination of Simon Harmer and Jamie Porter doing most of the damage. Ryan Ten Doeschate captained the side,
Since 1868 numerous county teams in longer schedules have finished a season unbeaten, but none have managed to win every single game outright:
|1864||Surrey||6||0||2||Also defeated a combined England team by eight wickets|
|1876||Gloucestershire||5||0||3||W. G. Grace scored over 1,000 runs in August including the first two triple centuries in first-class cricket|
|1877||Gloucestershire||7||0||1||Defeated England by five wickets|
|1881||Lancashire||10||0||3||One match against Middlesex cancelled because Harrow Wanderers booked Lord's|
|1884||Nottinghamshire||9||0||1||Only draw against Surrey in August Bank Holiday game saw Surrey with three wickets in hand and 153 runs to win|
|1900||Yorkshire||16||0||12||Lost only two games, both at home to Somerset between 1900 and 1902.|
Did lose to MCC at Lord's with J. T. Hearne taking nine for 71 on a perfect pitch.
|1907||Nottinghamshire||15||0||4||One match abandoned against Yorkshire.|
Hallam and Wass took 298 wickets between them in very wet summer
|1925||Yorkshire||21||0||11||Most games and most wins by unbeaten county team|
|1926||Yorkshire||14||0||17||Finished second, narrowly behind Lancashire who won seventeen games and lost two.|
Played seventy-one games without loss before losing to Warwickshire on May 23, 1927
|1928||Lancashire||15||0||15||Went 35 games without loss and overall lost only once in eighty-three county games before losing to Sussex on May 24, 1929.|
|1928||Yorkshire||8||0||20||Finished fourth of seventeen teams|
Played fifty-six unbeaten county matches before losing to Kent on 1 July 1929, but only won fourteen of these
|1930||Lancashire||10||0||18||Had lost only four of last 135 games at end of season.|
|1974||Lancashire||5||0||15||Finished only eighth of seventeen teams|
Lowest win percentage by unbeaten county team
|1998||Leicestershire||11||0||6||Lost only two games between 1996 and 1998|
|1999||Surrey||12||0||5||Last season of single-division Championship|
|2012||Yorkshire||5||0||11||Finished second in Second Division|
In 2011 and 2012, the Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis completed back-to-back perfect seasons, the first pro sports franchise in the United States to do so. The Kastles swept each of the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons with a perfect 14–0 record, then in each season went on to win their two postseason games and league's championship, amassing a 32-game winning streak in the process. This streak stands one short of the all-time professional sports record in the United States by the 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers.
In the 2017 season the Swiss mountain biker Nino Schurter won 6 out of 6 races and additionally at the World Championships he won the gold medal at the single and at the mixed race and the Cape Epic.
- Winless season, the opposite of a perfect season, where a team either fails to win any game or loses every game
- The Invincibles (football), name given to some teams who finish unbeaten
- Winning streak
- In the 1944 under-19 wartime competition that replaced the senior competition between 1942 and that season due to the player drain of World War II, East Perth managed a perfect season, winning all nineteen home-and-away games plus two finals.
- The record given below is for the full season including all finals.
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