Nov. 9, 2013. 1,060 days ago. This was the last time Wheaton’s football team lost a regular season game. Current seniors were entering their second quad of college, and current juniors were busy working on their college applications. This 26-game streak matches a record set between 2002 and 2004.
“That’s a hard thing to do, at any level,” said senior quarterback Andrew Bowers of the streak. He said it was “definitely fun to be a part of that.” Both streaks have come under head coach Mike Swider.
“Honestly, I think it starts at the top with Coach Swider,” Bowers explained. “He’s done a great job getting us prepared, but just doing our job individually, and knowing that each guy out here’s going to do what they’re supposed to do.”
Winning 26 football games straight is hard. For comparison, the longest regular season NFL winning streak belongs to the Indianapolis Colts from 2008 to 2009 at 23 games. The NFL record for longest win streak — regular and postseason combined — belongs to the New England Patriots from 2003 to 2004 at 21 games. Though the win streak is remarkable, Swider prefers to focus on this season rather than reflect on past success.
“We don’t count our win streaks,” he explained. “it’s fun, it’s nice, our team should be commended, but we’re just worried about the next one. Our 5-0 record this season is more important.”
The Thunder’s 26th win came on Saturday in Bloomington against the rival Illinois Wesleyan Titans. The Thunder struggled early in the first half, as the Titans grabbed a 14-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and a 24-17 lead at the half. The Thunder dominated the second half, scoring 34 points and holding the Titans to none en route to a 48-24 win. Bowers passed for 351 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Thunder offense, which put up an astounding 542 yards of total offense. The performance was good enough to earn Bowers his second career CCIW Player of the Week honor, his first this year.
The two rival teams have played very evenly over the past decade or so, with the home team winning 10 of the 12 matchups from 2005 to 2014 — the second being Wheaton’s Saturday win.
The Thunder will attempt to establish a new school record — and win their 27th straight regular season game — on Saturday as they host Millikin University for their homecoming game at 1 p.m.