Streaking Through Sports History: The Most Wins in a Row
The most public form of streaking is running naked at sporting events.
The term “streaking” was popularized by a reporter for a local Washington, D.C. news station as he watched a “mass nude run” take place at the University of Maryland in 1973. That nude run had 533 participants.
As the collected mass of nude students paraded past, the reporter exclaimed, “They are streaking past me right now. It’s an incredible sight!” The next day, the Associated Press reported the “streaking” incident and it generated nationwide coverage.
Although many streakers have used sporting events over the years to display their talents, the term has a different meaning in sports, referring to a hot team, or a club on a winning streak.
The most recent example of streaking in sports occurred last month, when Stanford defeated Connecticut, 71-59, and put an end to UConn’s 90-game winning streak, an NCAA women’s basketball record.
UConn fans accustomed to watching coach Geno Auriemma’s team blow past opponents hadn’t seen a loss since the 2008 NCAA semifinals—Stanford got the Huskies that time, too, 82-73 in the 2008 national semifinals.
The Wayland Baptist University women’s team actually achieved a 131-game winning streak from November of 1953 to March of 1958 before losing 46-42 to Nashville Business School. However, women’s basketball was not sponsored by the NCAA at that time, so Wayland Baptist played in the Amateur Athletic Union.
UCLA established the NCAA men’s basketball record by winning 88 straight games between January of 1971 and January of 1974. Like the UConn women, UCLA’s streak was sandwiched by losses to the same opponent, in this case Notre Dame, which came from behind to knock off the Bruins, 71-70, right.
On November 16, 1957, Notre Dame defeated streaking Oklahoma 7-0, ending the Sooners’ NCAA football record 47-game winning streak. Oklahoma’s streak began on October 10, 1953, when they defeated Texas 19-14—two weeks after losing to Notre Dame and a week after a 7-7 tie with Pitt.
Professional Winning Streaks
The New England Patriots won 21 straight games between October of 2003 and October of 2004 before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-20, to set the NFL record.
Excluding playoff games, the Indianapolis Colts won 23 consecutive regular season games between November of 2008 and December of 2009 before the Jets knocked them off, 29-15.
During the 1971-1972 NBA season the Los Angeles Lakers ran off an NBA record 33-game winning streak. The Milwaukee Bucks ended the run with a 120-104 win over the Lakers on January 7, 1972.
On September 7, 1916, the New York Giants defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-1. The Giants would run off a 26-game winning streak, still the longest in baseball history, before losing to the Boston Braves, 8-3, on September 30. Included in that streak was a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader on September 18.
The MLB record for consecutive wins (without ties) was set by the Chicago Cubs with 21 straight wins in 1935. The Oakland A’s established the American League record with 20 wins in a row in 2002.
Towards the end of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games to set the NHL record. The Penguins tied the New Jersey Devils 6-6 in the final game of the regular season that year and won three playoff games before losing to New Jersey, 4-2.
The Philadelphia Flyers strung together a 35-game unbeaten streak, including 10 ties, in the 1979-80 NHL season. The streak was snapped in a 7-1 loss to the Minnesota North Stars on January 6, 1980.
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