Wabash College football will enter uncharted territory this weekend.

And the Little Giants plan to build on the program's storied tradition.

Not only will Wabash have a chance to clinch a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference title in Saturday's meeting against conference rival Denison, but it will also mark the 1,000th game in school history.

When sixth-year Little Giants coach Chris Creighton reflects on the moment, he appreciates and understands its significance.

"Wabash has such a proud football tradition that being a part of that is fun," he said. "It gives you a great sense that you're part of something bigger than yourself and bigger than time.

"We haven't done anything to make Wabash football special. It's been special for a long time. (Now) it's our time to be a part of it."

Wabash's rich football history extends throughout Indiana and across the nation.

On Oct. 25, 1884, Wabash played the first intercollegiate football game in the state's history and defeated Butler University 4-0 at Indianapolis Baseball Park.

Jesse Taber kicked four goals and student-coach Ed Taber guided the school to its first win.

Wabash also won the first state championship in Indiana in 1886 and since 1890 it has played in the nation's oldest rivalry against DePauw in the Monon Bell game.

In the program's 112 year history, Wabash has compiled 574 wins, 368 losses and 58 ties.

Although that total adds up to 1,000 games, Wabash Sports Information Director Brent Harris said the NCAA doesn't count one of its games in the 1930's as an official college football game.

Wabash has also had 10 teams finish with an undefeated regular-season record, including two in the past four years.

But those 574 wins give Wabash the sixth-highest win total in Division III football history and to Harris, that's just as impressive an accomplishment as playing 1,000 games.

"Besides the number, what is truly impressive is the number of wins," Harris said. "Wabash has certainly enjoyed success recently. But it is success that was really set in the first game with Wabash winning 4-0 over Butler.

"It gives everyone the idea of type of football played at Wabash and the pride of Wabash football that started with Jesse Taber in 1884 and continues with Dustin Huff in 2006."

Wabash College archivist Beth Swift has researched the history of the school, along with the football program, for the past five years.

And she's found plenty of interesting material.

In fact, she acknowledged Wabash gave the Purdue Boilermakers their team nickname before the school came up with its own.

In 1889, Wabash played Purdue University for the first time and lost 18-4 in Crawfordsville.

Afterwards, angry Wabash fans believed Purdue's players were ringers brought in from the campus blacksmith shop and boiler plant.

They escorted the Purdue players to the train station and shouted insulting nicknames, with some calling them "Boilermakers".

And the nickname stuck.

But the Little Giants nickname didn't come about until 1904 -- 20 years after the program began.

During the 1890s and 1900s, Wabash had a history of playing schools with much larger enrollments.

They faced teams like Michigan State University, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University and Purdue.

After one game, former Wabash coach Francis Cayou told the team they played like "Little Giants".

A newspaper reporter overheard the phrase and from then on the moniker became Wabash's nickname.

Swift acknowledged Wabash values its rich football history and tradition. And she's fascinated in how those aspects still remain important today.

"Ever since football came to Wabash, Wabash has been wild about football," Swift said. "It's always at the core of student life."

Wabash Football Timeline

1884 - Wabash plays first intercollegiate game in Indiana on Oct. 25, 1884. Wabash defeated Butler 4-0 as Jesse Taber kicked four goals and student-coach Ed Taber guided the team to its first win its opening game.

1886 - Wabash wins first state championship in Indiana. Wabash tied Franklin (4-4) and defeated Franklin (8-4) and Hanover (23-4) to win the first state title in Indiana.

1889 - Wabash plays first football game in Crawfordsville at Philistine Filed, losing 18-4 against Purdue.

1890 - Wabash and DePauw begin the nation's oldest rivalry in the first Monon Bell game on Nov. 22, 1890. DePauw won the game, 34-5.

1904 - Wabash coach Francis Cayou, an American Indian, coins the team's nickname, the "Little Giants".

After fielding a team that averaged a little more than 140 pounds per man and was almost always outnumbered, he called players "Little Giants" when battling teams such as Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame, and Indiana University. A newspaper reporter heard Cayou utter the phrase and the nickname was born.

1905 - Wabash defeats the University of Notre Dame 5-0 on Oct. 21, 1905 in South Bend. The Little Giants played the Fighting Irish 11 times and this was their only win.

1910 - Wabash plays four games and goes unbeaten and unscored upon before freshman Ralph "Sap" Wilson was killed after being kneed in the skull against St. Louis. The Little Giants didn't play another game that season. Wilson was inducted into the Wabash Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, 1998.

1932 - The Monon Bell was added to the Wabash-DePauw rivalry.

1966 - Wabash's Little Giant stadium is dedicated

1982 - Wabash finishes 10-0 and in sixth-place in the final Division III national rankings

1991 and 1992 - Wabash wins back-to-back Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference titles

2000 - Wabash sets or ties 17 North Coast Athletic Conference records during 5-2 conference season

2002 - Wabash finished as North Coast Athletic Conference champions with a 7-0 conference record; the Little Giants lost in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III tournament to eventual national champion Mount Union

2005 - Wabash finished 7-0 in NCAC play and earns the NCAC championship