Phil Caldwell

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Oregon Ducks 2010 Football Team Lunch for 1991-92 Washington Huskies?

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19 Oct 1991: Defensive tackle Steve Emtman of the Washington Huskies tries to break through the line during a game against the California Bears at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California. Washington won the game 24-17.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Yesterday, two nimrod ESPN announcers with bad haircuts and worse suits debated whether the 2010 Oregon Ducks Football team could have beaten the best defensive team to ever walk on the field, the 1991 Washington Huskies.

Once every Husky fan across Washington picked himself off the floor after a dozen minutes of side-splitting laughter, we fans yearned for that famed team that knocked off No. 9 Nebraska and No. 7 California on their way to total college football domination in every way possible before routing No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

These two TV twirps claimed, “it would be a close game,” because “Oregon is the best offensive powerhouse we’ve ever seen.” Quite an ironic claim, given that this is the same argument they were trying to make before the Ducks barely limped by California last month.

You remember that game right? The one where Oregon waddled past an unimpressive 5-4 Golden Bear team by a mere two points.  And that required a stutter-step miscue by California kicker Giorgio Tavecchio in the fourth quarter to erase what would have been the go-ahead field goal.

The absurdity of such a suggestion is blasphemy deserving of torture and stake-burning. The Ducks are hardly qualified to clean the jocks of Steve Entman and company, let alone last four quarters on a football field against them.

And the arrogance of these pip-squeaks! To think a newly arrived Duck team could ever compare to the storied history of the Huskies is enough to give even the most apathetic Washington fan stomach cramps, especially since the Ducks have written some of the worst football history ever known to mankind!

1782104_crop_340x234Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Wikipedia says this about that Husky team (learned only after several hostile pop-ups by Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner trying to leverage cash donations):

“The  Washington Huskies football team have won 15  Pacific-10 ConferenceChampionships, seven  Rose Bowl Titles and four National Championships. Washington’s all-time record of 653-398-50 ranks 20th in all-time winning percentage and 21st in all-time victories.

“The team also has two of the nation’s  longest winning streaks and holds the Division I-FBS unbeaten record at 63 consecutive games.”

OK, now let’s compare this to Oregon Duck history.

Hey what’s this?  I see that the Oregon Ducks began their stellar tradition of running up football scores against weaker teams back in 1910, when Chip Kelly’s great-great grandfather, Benito Kelly, ordered a hurry-up offense with a scant 108-point lead late in the fourth quarter against the University of Puget Sound to win 115-0.

Kelly claimed it wasn’t his fault because the 1910 BCS would have punished his team in the final poll.

According to cash-strapped Wikipedia, the Oregon Ducks have won six  Pacific-10 Conference Championships (counting this year’s), one single  Rose Bowl (during the first world war era) and zero National Championships. Oregon’s all-time record of 585-474-47 ranks so far down that there is no overall ranking.

258874_crop_340x234Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Ironically however, the all-yellow uniforms the Ducks wore in 2009 are rated the number one cause of all eye problems in 2010.

Suppose it’s for those reasons that Oregon and the rest of the sissy Pac-10 conference were all happy when the Huskies stumbled to 0-12 under Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham a couple years ago?  Finally revenge for the oft-slaughtered and maimed Pac-10 speed bumps.

All told and put into proper perspective, it means the 2010 version of the Oregon Ducks is like a sensitive men’s figure skating team wearing pink leotards, in comparison to the 1991 Huskies. The Ducks aren’t worthy of cleaning the ’91 Husky toilets with tooth brushes.

ESPN ran a survey a decade ago in which readers rated that particular Husky team as the third-best ever in college football, behind only the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers and the 1994 Penn State squad.

Most die-hard Husky homers would probably admit, however, that the early 1970’s USC teams could have given any college team fits, as well as some of the mid-century Notre Dame teams.

But the Ducks?

Well I’m sorry, but if LaMichael James tried one of his finesse tip-toe sally runs up the middle against Steve Emtman and two-time All-American Dave Hoffman, he likely would be picking his head out of the 15th row end stands mixed with chips and corn nuts.

POLL: Which team would win?

  • 1991-92 Washington Huskies

  • 2010-11 Oregon Ducks


Total votes: 761

If you remember, nobody ran up the middle against Steve Emtman and the 1991 Huskies.  Oh sure, there were those fools who tried, like Michigan’s QB Elvis Grbac in the 1992 Rose Bowl or Arizona’s George Malauulu to start the 1991 game, but few tried that more than a couple times.  None were so foolish.

Perhaps because Emtman and Hoffman were the anchors of a UW defense that allowed just 67.1 rushing yards and 9.2 points per game, both numbers among the best in NCAA history?

Emtman was just the ninth collegiate player ever to win both the Outland and Lombardi Trophies in the same year, and was the fourth-place finisher in voting for the 1991 Heisman Trophy before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.

And it wasn’t only the opposition that got under Steve Emtman’s skin. In 1991, Sports Illustrated ran a story describing how Emtman had no problem getting in the face of his teammates if they didn’t perform up to then-Husky standards, in both games and every day practices.

In fact, 76,304 Nebraska fans, who certainly had seen their share of national championship appearances in the 1980’s and 90’s, gave that same 1991 UW team a standing ovation as the Huskies exited the field following their landmark come-from-behind road win in Lincoln over the then-No. 9 ranked Cornhuskers.

The same Cornhuskers who the previous year had the nation’s number one rated offense!

258948_crop_340x234Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The 1991 Washington football team led the Pac-10 in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense.

Even after Rose Bowl MVP Mark Brunell missed the first two-thirds of the season with a broken knee suffered during spring practices, the Huskies rolled.

And there was sensational receiver Orlando McKay, running back Beno Bryant, future NFL all-pro Lincoln Kennedy, middle guard D’Marco Farr, bruising linebacker Chico Fraley, future NFL Pro Bowl cornerback Dana Hall, Darius Turner, Mario Bailey, Donald Jones and too many other stars to mention.

It was simply a great team whose time had come, and although that team never had a shot at co-champ wuss Miami, few in Huskyville doubt what the outcome would have been.

Nor do they doubt what would happen to the 2010 Oregon Duck offense’s prowess if they faced a defense as stout as the 1991 Washington Huskies.

So Oregon, our Husky hats are off to your so-far undefeated team heading into the BCS National championship, but let’s keep things in perspective shall we?

The 1991 Husky team would be spitting out your feathers in two quarters. I’m sorry. Don’t shoot the messenger here. That’s just the way it is.

So yes ESPN, there actually is a huge difference between the 1991 Washington Huskies and the 2010 Oregon Ducks.

The Huskies were a much better team.


Washington Husky Fans Shouldn’t Be Disappointed Over Loss to Oregon Ducks

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Relax Husky fans!  Before you go jumping off the nearest bridge, think about how far this program has come in three short years!

Last year the Ducks put up 53 points to the paltry 16 the Huskies could manage.  A mere year later the Huskies could have, and probably should have, won the last game ever played at beloved Husky Stadium before the big renovation.

Had Keith Price not generously donated the ball to undeserving Duck cornerbacks, not once but twice, the Huskies could have left the field at halftime enjoying a two touchdown lead instead suffering the same at the hands of Oregon, bequeathed 14 easy points by driving a total of half a football field.

Washington completely out-played and out-classed Oregon in the first half, amassing 11 first downs to Oregon’s 6, with twice as many offensive plays.  What the stats could not show was a far more hungry squad of Husky upstarts, jacked up by the presence of the eyes of the undefeated national champ team of two decades earlier.

But in spite of the play inequity, the total yards were nearly equal.  Precisely the problem when playing the high-energy Ducks, especially when they donned the old Oakland Raider uniforms with the only school color being an out-of-place green “O” on silver helmets.

In the third quarter Oregon did what Oregon always seems to do.  They came out on the opening drive with quick sideline strikes of 15 to 20 yards using both sidelines, stretching the defense and setting it up for what would come next.  By the time the harried and panting Huskies caught their breath,  Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James were suddenly shooting up the center of the field with five straight healthy gains,  ended only by a nice juicy TD on 12 plays that consumed barely two and half minutes.

What had been a game the Huskies should have been winning, was suddenly 24-10 with a potential blowout looming.

But the Huskies didn’t pout.  They came screaming right back up the field with their own quick 9 play drive, to answer with their own impressive touchdown.  Keith Price threw a lofter on the left side of the end zone to five-star recruit Kaysen-Williams, for a Husky TD to bring it back to 24-17.

Williams, the all-world freshman recruited heavily by every team on the planet only last year, made the prettiest catch of the night and perhaps in his brief Husky career, stretching high to snag the pass with his big toes barely skimming the surface before they hit the sidelines.

Chris Polk was no slouch either, running up the middle from the shotgun formation on four straight draws with healthy gains on all but one.  Oregon suddenly looked like deer’s in headlights, with zero defensive answers, especially when the suddenly resurgent sold out Husky crowd of over 72,000 were going nuts and creating noise mayhem.

All week long there had been festivities and hoopala for what would be the last game ever played at Husky Stadium, where past greats had dwelled on Saturday afternoons since 1920.  In fact a full team of Husky greats were in the stands, intimidating both teams with the same glaring eyes that had mutilated every single opponent on the way to a national championship two decades prior.

Back when the current Dawgs were still urping up Mommy’s milk in their high chairs, these middle-aged guys with paunches and thinning hair had been wreaking havoc across the land, scoffing at east coast insistence that the also undefeated Miami Hurricanes would have had any chance of staying with them on the field.  But they never got the chance to prove it, since this was long before the BCS system of placing undefeated teams in bowl games.

And yet back to the future, the Huskies were having a hard time understanding how the Ducks could have a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, given how silly UW was making them look.  But this is what the Ducks do to opponents, lead when they’re being dominated.

Keith Price missing receivers by sailing passes 10 yard over their heads did not help.  Passes with open receivers that looked to be sure touchdowns, ended up going the other way twice in the first half, and Price ran for his life in the onslaught of much quicker Duck defensive lineman.

Following the first Price debacle, Oregon needed just three plays to take the lead, starting from the Washington 38, which ended when LaMichael James scampered up the left side 18 yards for a disturbingly easy touchdown.

A quarter later it only took four plays starting at the UW 34, after Price duplicated his first quarter error in exactly the same way, lofting the ball high over the head of a bedaffled Jerome Kearse and into the hands of a by-himself Eddie Pleasant standing on Duck 17 yard line, which he promptly returned 49 yards.

Oregon didn’t need many offensive plays to lead by 14, but when the Huskies kept hanging around it was clear this game would have little similarity to the seven straight 20+ point blowouts that preceded it.

On the six plays where Price took what should have been normal time throwing the ball deep, patiently waiting for his receivers to run their routes, he was sacked badly.  A dozen other plays had Price rushing to throw the ball, which didn’t allow for feet to be set long enough for a stable foundation.  Hence the ball sailed high into wide open Ducks.

When Oregon started their drive from their own 30 yard line with 8:34 left in the third quarter, it was do or die time for the Huskies.  Trailing by only seven, if they didn’t stop Oregon on this drive the game would be lost for good.

They didn’t.

Oregon’s rickety quarterback Darron Thomas drilled David Paulso for 34 yards across the middle on the third play from scrimmage, and followed it with another to Josh Huff for 19 more yards.   Two running plays later it was 31-17, and Husky fans were muttering in their frigid seats at the old dilapidated stadium.  It was over.  UW knew it and the hated Ducks knew it, especially when the next Washington drive stalled at mid-field with a confused and ugly 4th and 4.

Oregon had the ball and a big lead with only 3:40 left in the third quarter.  But when a wide-open Daryle Hawkins dropped his third pass of the night at the five yard line, Oregon was forced to kick a field goal, which was certainly no gimmie considering how bad Duck kicker Alejandro Maldonado was.  In fact 35 yards was his limit, and he barely managed to sneak it over to cross bar to give the Ducks a 34-17 lead with a buck 49 left in the third.

Things really got hopeless when little-used Husky Michael Hartvigson was stripped by Terrance Mitchell at the Husky 32 yard line in just two plays, but were bailed out by a couple of knucklehead Duck penalties, and an ugly pathetic miss by Maldonado from 46 yards, short and off-line to the right.

Still, by now Oregon had slowed down the offense, and were burning large chunks of time by running the clock down to the bare bones with each play.  Sometimes Oregon would walk to the line and return to the huddle several times, just to drive everyone crazy with the trickery and confusion.

Never-used sophomore Nick Montana woke up the crowd with an impressive 53 yard strike to Kasen Williams down the right sideline to the Duck 27, but when a wide open Kevin Smith dropped a nice easy pass that hit him in the numbers as he stood alone in the end zone, the Husky faithful could tell it was not their night.

But it was the best game played against Oregon in a very long time, and if nothing else, the Ducks went away feeling a bit fortunate to have won so easily.  It certainly wasn’t because they played well.  The Ducks easily could have lost this game had the Huskies not been so sloppy and charitable, and by the time things wound down, Oregon could tell that this would be the last easy game for years to come.

The Huskies are still thin in only their third season since being terrible, have kept even with Oregon and the rest of the league with recruiting, and suddenly look like a team to be reckoned with starting in 2012.  Especially since another set of Sark recruits will come rolling into town.

And with the NCAA sniffing the crotches of devious Duck activity all winter long, how long can this go on?

Oregon’s core are still only juniors, but stars such as Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are likely to bolt for greener pastures in the NFL, hence the chances of this Duck bunch staying together after this year is looking grim.

So while clueless Oregon fans were mouthing off on their way to the parking lot tonight, failing to appreciate that all streaks eventually end, the rest of the Husky faithful are recognizing this game for what it was.  The Husky program is back and getting better each year.  We know it.  The Ducks know it even if they won’t admit it, and by this time next year the rest of the country will know it.

And with NCAA sanctions drifting in like eerily gray November clouds, this same Oregon squad will likely be moping come this time twelve months hence.  The mini era of the Ducks dominating the Dawgs has likely seen it’s last chapter, as the men of Montlake return to their 1991 roots and tradition!

Washington Huskies Mutilate Utah Utes in Pac-12 Pickfest

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Who says karma is only for balding hippies wearing bed sheets and hanging around city parks?Following a relaxing bye week with summer-like weather enticing a sea of Utah Ute fans donned in red,  this first-ever Pac12 game at Rice-Eccles Stadium (where?) would be Utah’s chance to snap a dreaded six game losing streak to the hated Dawgs of Seattle after waiting since 1979 for the opportunity.And yet on the opening kickoff, the newcomers did their impression of a Bishop Sankey kickoff reception in Nebraska.

The Ute’s Ryan Lankey coughed up the ball with only seconds gone to start the game, after Husky Garret Gilliland drilled him and shook the ball loose, which wandered and squiggled right into the arms of a streaking Jamaal Kearse, who graciously raced the gift 10 yards without breaking his stride for a quick UW touchdown.

That, as it turned out, would actually be a highlight for the newly-come-hither Utah Utes of Salt Lake City.

Especially when Husky defensive end Josh Shirley, starting in his first-ever collegiate game, raced around the line and splattered Utah starting QB Jordan Wynn for a six yard loss in their first snap from scrimmage.  Followed by another stinker up the middle for a one yard loss.

A pass completion later it was fourth down and a punt and an ugly three-and-out for the Utah Utes in their sorta-cool packed out stadium, with houses peeking over the far end zone and sun shining brilliantly.  Fans across the Root Sports network were getting their first look at Uteville.

It shone more brilliantly for Dawg fans when the Huskies got their opening drive and quickly stampeded downfield on two pass completions and four Chris Polk runs, before finally running out of gas on a failed 4th-and-1 at Utah’s 32.

Polk appeared to stumble over his own feet, and by the time he recovered, momentum had suddenly shifted to the home squad, who took over at midfield.

Starting at their own 32, Wynn threw a surprise sideline bomber to Ute wide receiver pal Devonte Christopher, who made a spectacular catch and 68 yard touchdown romp before it was ruled he stepped out of bounds back on the Husky 32.  But by just a hair.

Not to worry, because Wynn tossed a drifter to Dres Anderson in the end zone several plays later to knot the score at 7-7.

And after the Huskies suddenly looked lethargic and frat-party tired in route to a three-and-out, seven plays later Utah failed on their own 4th-and-6 after marching downfield to the Husky 37.

But alas, bad things continued to happen to good people, when a snappy low pass from Keith Price skipped off the fingertips of 5-Star recruit Husky freshman Seferian-Jenkins, and into the lap of the Ute’s JJ William at the Utah 34.

Suddenly, what looked to be a 14-0 Husky lead, was dangerously close to morphing into a 14-7 deficit, especially when John White nailed back-to-back 6 yard scampers to the Utah 40 to end the first quarter, and followed with eight straight successful plays which was finally snuffed when Sean Parker picked off a Jordan Wynn pass at the 4-yard line.


Three plays and a first down later from deep in goalpost shadows, things nearly turned Cornhusker bad when Chris Polk, running for his life, fumbled on his own 6-yard line but managed to pounce on it.

A Keil punt later combined with a brain-dead kick receiver penalty, and Utah was in business starting at the Husky 40-yard line.  Desmond Trufant, who was being picked on for some reason, aided the drive with a mutilation of Dres Anderson in the red zone.

But on the very next play, Trufant both forced and recovered a Ute fumble on the 6-yard line.  A clear momentum-changer for the Huskies, since what easily could have been a 21-7 Utah lead was still tied 7-7 after two critical Ute turnovers deep in the red zone.

The Huskies kept the ball the remainder of the half, helped by two knucklehead Ute 15 yard personal fouls, and finally finished the half with a 44 yard Erik Folk field goal and an undeserved 10-7 lead at the last two ticks of the first half.

At halftime, things would take a dramatic turn in Washington’s favor.

After an opening touchdown drive making it 17-7 Huskies, Utah went three-and-out, but pined the Huskies deep in the red zone again when Kayson Williams unwisely attempted to return the kick and was dog-piled at his own 6-yard line.

Chris Polk took over, with runs of 10 and 12 yards, finally ending at midfield after blowing a 3rd-and-1 when Price heaved a wayward desperation pass on a busted play action.  Fans across the nation wondered why that play had been run, when Chris Polk was running like a mad man and chewing up both time and yardage at will.

But when Utah finally got the ball back with seven minutes left in the third quarter, Gregory Ducre picked off Utah’s replacement QB John Hays’ first pass with a brilliant over-the-top sideline pick.

And with Kieth Price imitating wooden-legged pirates due to his on-going knee-gone-bad, he drilled a bullet barely past the fingertips of Utah’s Brian Blechen for a game-dominating 24-7 lead, when Kearse scampered the remaining 23 yards for a UW TD.

It was now 24-7 with seven minutes left in the third quarter, and the game was effectively over.

And when the Huskies opened the fourth quarter with a 14 play touchdown drive that consumed almost eight minutes, what had been a Utah-dominated game was suddenly a Husky laugher.

Polk rushed for 143 yards on 17 carries in the second half alone, as the Huskies piled on 24 unanswered points since the field goal ending the first half.

The Ute’s backup quarterback, a transfer from the defunct Nebraska-Omaha program, did his best, including a nifty suicide hurdle into Cort Dennison for a desperation first down.

But with Chris Polk gaining strength as the Utah defense grew more winded with each drive, there was little they could do.  Especially when Kieth Price kept nailing time-consuming short passes that finally ended with the Huskies up 31-7 with 9:17 left in the game.

For Husky fans still wheezing from the stench of the Kieth Gilberson recruiting classes, it was a welcome sight to see the Huskies finally back doing what Husky teams do.  Dominate in the third quarter and draining the clock in the fourth for the kill.

Utah would manage to score again with seven seconds left in the game, but by that time the vast majority of Ute fans had been sipping beverages and drinking away the pain of it all, in their favorite sports bars for an hour.

It was a surprising win for a suddenly powerful-looking 4-1 Husky Dawg squad, and with the hapless Colorado Buffaloes coming off another loss against WSU this afternoon, Washington fans haven’t been this happy in over five years!

Written by PhilCaldwell

October 2, 2011 at 8:57 am

Washington Huskies Gut Out Tough Win against California in Déjà Vu Game

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SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Chris Polk #1 of the Washington Huskies breaks a tackle to score a touchdown for a 14-7 score against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Husky Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Harry How/Getty Images

When California’s Zach Maynard hit a wide-open Keenan Allen for a 90-yard pass-touchdown three plays into the opening California Golden Bear’s drive in the UW Pac-12 opener, a collective gasp from the purple-clad 60,437 about blew down the decrepit and soon-to-be razed south stands at Husky Stadium.

It was an unlikely strike too, because Allen was so wide open on blown coverage that the stunned multitudes apparently had little to say. Other than creative angry chants about defensive coordinator Nick Holt, which embarrassed the crack Root announcing duo.

Craig Boilerjack and Joel Klatt, still marveling at the hundreds of small boats lazily swaying several hundred yards away on the glistening waters of Lake Washington, wondered aloud how long fans were gong to tolerate coverage that bad; somewhat a Husky tradition of late.

The Dawgs had managed to reach midfield after receiving the opening kick, but were forced to punt six plays later, and Will Hahan’s high kick pinned California back on their own 9-yard line.  But after Isi Sofele ripped out an 11 yard gain to the 20, Cal briefly had breathing room until Zach Maynard coughed up the ball on his own 11.

UW came right back three plays later with a Keith Price to senior Devin Aguilar for a quick 44 yards to the California 20,  followed by Price to all-world freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a game-tying touchdown with just over five minutes burned.

Suddenly, the game felt eerily like the week prior vs. Nebraska, with very little defense giving way to two squads with potent offenses.

But when Cal went three-and-out and drilled UW’s Kasen Williams milliseconds after catching the ball on the ensuing punt, it became evident that college football had returned to the traditional receiving rules so prominently known until a week prior.

126310540_crop_340x234Harry How/Getty Images

No call, Huskies with the ball.

Eight plays and 65 yards later, it was 14-7 UW.

California came roaring back down the field but settled for a Giorgil Tavecchio 29-yard field goal to make it 14-10, and UW quickly answered with their own sustained drive of 78 yards, finished by another Seferian-Jenkins TD to make it 21-10 with 8:51 left in the half. Cal again drove the length of the field but again settled for a 36-yard field goal trailing 21-13 with just over five minutes left in the half.

Again, the game was feeling disturbingly similar to the prior week in Nebraska, especially when Husky QB Price got chopped from behind by Cecil Whiteside while carelessly carrying the ball single-handedly on a scamper to his own 33.

Price had been doing that all game long and had narrowly managed to avoid the same on several earlier plays.  This time luck ran out. California’s Mychal Kendricks promptly fell on it, transforming what could have been a game-dominating UW drive into a hair-puller.

California tried to take advantage of the momentum swing with a quick line-drive pass down the right side, but Desmond Trufant made a brilliant defensive play at the goal line to knock the ball away.

Two plays later a wide-open Keenan Allen dropped a ball that most grandmothers could have caught,  but made up for it on a duplicate follow-up play on a risky 4th-and-4.  This time Allen took it to the UW 20.

Three plays later, CJ Anderson punched in a one-yard dive to make it 21-20, and when UW’s Erik Folk kicked a half-ending 52-yard field goal only 51 yards, the Huskies left the field up only a single point up.

Coaches grumbled to sideline reporters about missed opportunities and squandered defensive coverages.

Sark was still cranky about his defensive play following the half, and about ripped off sideline reporter Petro Pedackus’ head when he asked about it, in spite of his snazzy black suit that looked like it belonged in a wedding party.

California nearly gave the game back to the Huskies with nine minutes left in the third,  when the ball squirted out of Cal Maynard’s hand at UW’s 12-yard line and straight up the air for no apparent reason.  Once the dog pile had been cleared, the Golden Bears miraculously retained possession.

Cal had to again settle for a field goal, but with a 23-21 lead in game where they easily could have been suffering a blow out, they had to be feeling giddy knowing they had put up 13 straight points at exactly the time they needed it.

The Huskies followed with their own 13-play drive and a 25-yard field goal. The drive included a lovely 4th-and-1 pitch to Jermaine Kearse to the left side, but when Porter was flagged for a 15-yard chop-block penalty, the Huskies had to settle for a three-pointer too,

126308142_crop_340x234Harry How/Getty Images

24-23 with five minutes left in the quarter.  Again, what could have been a game-changer was handed away by knuckleheadedness.

When California finished the third quarter with a punt, the ultimate outcome of the game would be determined with the next Husky drive.

It started with a nifty pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins down the right sidelines to the 40-yard line, but was called back by a painful holding call.  UW was forced to deal with a 1st and 20 from their own 5-yard line instead of a 1st and 10 from the 35.

Chris Polk ran a nothing play up the middle to make it 2nd and 18, but Washington was suddenly bailed out when Cal’s Aron Tipoti was flagged for roughing the passer.  It gave UW an unexpected 1st-and-10 at their own 32.

Two plays later California broke through for an ugly sack of Keith Price.  But Price followed up with a high-lofter to Chris Polk over the middle for a touchdown, and the game suddenly swung back in the Huskies’ favor.

Polk had managed to sneak out of the backfield undetected while both defensive backs collapsed to cover Sefarian-Jenkins cutting across ten yards deep of the line.  Polk easily caught the ball and lazily jogged into the end zone, thereby potentially sealing the deal.

UW enjoyed a 31-23 lead with just over 12 minutes left.  And when California went three-and-out on their next drive, things were looking bleak for Bay Area’s Golden Bears.

But UW, not prone to making things easy on themselves, promptly coughed up the ball again on the Cal 37, when Austin Seferian-Jenkins was stripped of the ball after being stood up, following a nice catch and scamper to the Cal 44.

California had the ball again in great field position, trailing by only eight points.  But again matching the Huskies in sloppy play, Zach Maynard barely managed to fall on his fumble (his third of the game that was recovered by his own guys), leaving them with a 3rd-and-17.

Two plays later on a 4th-and-3, UW’s Cort Dennison knocked the ball loose from Cal’s Savai’i Eselu.  Just over six minutes were left in the game and the Huskies could end it right here with a long sustained drive.

But the Huskies quickly went three-and-out, and California had yet another chance to get back in the game.

Keeping the ball for 15 plays as the Huskies used two safeties to keep from getting burned long, the “bend not break” defense barely managed to keep California out of the end zone.  Finally, when Cort Dennison and Evan Zeger stopped the Golden Bears’ Isi Sofele for a one-yard loss with just over 37 seconds left in the game, it allowed for one final desperation play amidst a sea of worried Husky fans.  Another win that could turn to a heartbreaking loss.

Cal QB Zach Maynard tried to loft a sneaker high to WR Keenan Allen, but the ball sailed hopelessly out of bounds to the left side and fell harmlessly to the turf.  One play later, the game was over, and Husky fans felt very fortunate to escape after blowing countless opportunities to put this game to rest.

Final score 31-23.  California’s perfect start was ruined, while the beloved Huskies are off to their best start in six years after winning seven of their last eight games.

Nevertheless defensive coach Nick Holt and head coach Steve Sarkisian were clearly both cranky following the game.

A win yes, but a win that should have been nailed down a quarter earlier when the Huskies had the ball and an eight point lead with six minutes left.  It should have been easier.


Read more from the same author:

Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners Need Not Apply for Membership in the Pac12

University of Washington Huskies Fall on Bad End of Big Call in Nebraska

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LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 17: Keith Price #17 of the Washington Huskies throws downfield over Baker Steinkuhler #55 of the Nebraska Cornhusker during their game at Memorial Stadium September 17, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska won 51-38.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)Eric Francis/Getty Images

On a dank and misty Saturday afternoon on the plains of Nebraska, two separate and pivotal phantom calls on Washington defenders sapped the energy from the visiting team and handed the game to the gracious red-clad Nebraska home squad.

Only football moments earlier, tied at 17 with just over two minutes left in the first half, UW’s Kiel Rasp sailed a hanging punt to the Nebraska 41-yard line for a waiting Cornhusker Tim Marlowe.

But Marlowe missed the catch, the ball grazed off his left ankle and bounced in the arms of Husky Jamaal Kerse, who picked it up and scampered forty yards into the end zone for a seemingly surprising touchdown and 24-17 Husky lead.

Husky momentum was exploding as players embraced and danced giddily.

Suddenly the fun was snuffed by a late-flying hankie that drifted lazily into the mayhem near the end zone.  A dreaded phantom call had just been ushered that had even the Superbowl XL Pittsburg-Seattle zebras grumbling at the injustice of it all.

Washington was being penalized 15 yards for a bogus “kick catching interference” infraction on Washington’s Cort Dennison.  The call was apparently the result of a new college football rule invented seconds earlier by the same squad of sight-challenged refs, and enforced midst wails and hollers by the entire Husky sidelines.

Truth was, there was no hand up for a fair catch by Marlowe, as the refs alleged.  Nor was Dennison anywhere near Marlowe.

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An absolutely terrible call that was played over and over on replays to the nationally televised featured game on ABC.  And it morphed the UW Huskies from the sharp efficient team that had been giving Nebraska fits, into the team from two weeks ago that was hesitant and tentative to open the season.After that play the game felt different, looked different and WAS different. Gone was the energy.  And after Nebraska’s Brett Maher nailed a 35-yard field goal a few plays later for a 20-17 lead as time ran out, heads were slumped and players dismayed as they left the field.

A half-hour later, the second half opened much like the first.

It started with an ugly Husky three and out with the Huskies punting again.  This time Rasp’s punt was a 52-yard line drive that fell into the arms of Cornhusker receiver Rex Burkhead, who was immediately flattened catching the ball by re-amped Husky special teams.

But again two separate flags flew and mayhem insued, as the Huskies were again called for this new “kick catching interference” thing.  Cameras caught a completely baffled UW Coach Steve Sarkisain questioning officials on where they were getting this rule from?

Burkhead DID catch the ball after all, which is all Husky defenders need to allow for a legal catch—according to, you know, actual college football rules.  When there is no hand up for a fair catch, which there wasn’t in either case, said receiver is eligible to be drilled by defenders once he touches the ball.  This is how the game is played.  Normally.

Did blown ref calls affect the final outcome of this game?

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Nevertheless the Huskies were penalized again for another unjust 15 yards by self-righteous officials, who apparently had been downing drinks at halftime while celebrating their previous boneheaded call with the home fans.

And just to make matters worse, the head official, a tall retired fellow with far too much self-confidence, scolded Husky coach Steve Sarkisian for questioning his wisdom, and then stuck UW for yet another five yards just to rub salt in the wounds.

Soon thereafter the Husky defense, now even more lethargic and uninspired, allowed Nebraska to roll through them for 60 yards on eight runs and one short pass to Jamal Turner.

Suddenly the Huskies were down by 10 points with less than five minutes consumed in the second half.

But it got worse.

Husky four-star recruit Bishop Sankey, only recently snatched from the arms of cross-state rival WSU after committing to them years ago, muffed the kickoff on his own 1-yard line.  A single play later, Nebraska gladly converted it for another seven points and a commanding 34-17 lead.

Twenty-one unanswered points that turned the game into a rout.

All four dozen crazed UW Husky fans lining the cheap seats several time zones away, agonized and bemoaned the injustice of it all.  Which made nary a difference in the sea of 85,000 neurotic and delighted Nebraska fans.

125449401_crop_340x234Eric Francis/Getty Images

This baby was all but over with two quarters left, and it had pinheaded referee call fingerprints all over it!

The Huskies actually did put up a fairly impressive fight afterwards and managed to regain the confidence they possessed prior to these dopey penalties, scoring another 14 points before time ran out.  Including a drive that stalled at the nine yard line on downs and yielded zero points.

Nebraska would eventually enjoy another phantom “kick catching interference” penalty (which this time actually seemed semi-legit), but it hardly mattered.

UW’s very fast but young team was defeated, playing like it after these key calls in the middle of the game—in spite of some late-game heroics, they fell by 13 points, 51-38.  One point less than the terrible call and a gift touchdown bequeathed to Nebraska.

And unlike other Pac-12 teams who were running up the score on their second straight high school team (I won’t name names, but their fans are obnoxious and they wear really funny-looking uniforms), UW’s future looks indeed bright!


Read more from the same author: 

Auburn vs Oregon: Cockroaches and Flying Insects Killed from ESPN’s pregame


Bosie State vs Utah in Las Vegas: Broncos Defeat Utes for Absolutely No Reason

Written by PhilCaldwell

September 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

USC Sanctions: Unjust Penalties Against UW a Decade Ago Might Force NCAA’s Hand

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As the University of Southern California finally gets their appeal of sanctions heard on Saturday, the past history of another storied Pac-10 program may be forcing the hands of those doing the ruling. Reduced sanctions in 2011 may be a lost cause, because of what went on in 1993 and 1994.

On August 22, 1993, following an eight-month investigation the Pac-10 Conference (and NOT the NCAA) put the University of Washington football program on probation for 1993 and 1994.

Included in the penalties against the University of Washington was a two-year bowl ban, a reduction of 10 scholarships per season, a one-year television ban, funds from television forfeited for a year, halving recruiting trips from 70 to 35 in 1993 and 40 in 1994 and a two-year probationary period.

The ban on television appearances cost the university over $1.4 million from lost tv revenue. And in spite of the conference stating, “There was no evidence that UW set out to achieve a competitive advantage,” they nevertheless crippled the program with the most severe punishment in conference history.

All this started from a Seattle Times report about a $50,000 loan to then-QB Billy Joe Hobert, by an outsider with no connection to the Husky program. Charles Rice was an Idaho scientist but not a UW booster. The NCAA eventually ruled Hobert had lost his eligibility and thus the school was not punished for that allegation, but Hobert was.


During the investigation of Hobert, a number of wild allegations were put forth by the LA Times about the University of Washington—most of which were discarded in the final analysis.

Headlines screamed things like “Drug Ring has Husky Connection,” “Huskies Pressure Accuser,” “Huskies Investigated by Secret Service,” “Husky Players Sold Prescription Drugs,” “Players Claim They Need Guns,” etc.

LA Times reporters Danny Robbins and Elliot Almond ran many more stories based on accusations from five former UW players who had a falling out with Don James in the years prior, one of whom sued Husky coaches and physicians over shoulder treatment he had been given. Two others had been dismissed from the team after they were arrested during an altercation with Santa Ana police prior to the Freedom Bowl game.

None of the allegations were part of the notice of charges filed against the Huskies that led to the final sanctions. But because of the stories and accusations, the name of Don James and the University of Washington was dragged through the mud in Southern California and the rest of the nation.

What was not thrown out, however, were claims that a Los Angeles booster in Southern California had loosely managed several Husky players and paid them for minimal or non-existent work in summer jobs.

Some of the players claimed it was never as it was alleged, insisting that while one or two guys had filled in extra hours on their time cards with inflated hours, due to the booster being out of town and not keeping track of what was going on, that was the exception but certainly not the norm.


Both the Pac-10 and NCAA ruled otherwise.

When the Pac-10 penalties came down, Husky nation was outraged over the severity, since all associated with Don James and his staff had little to no knowledge of any of this. And it was unlikely they could have known about it.

Jerry Kingston, head of the Pac-10 committee that recommended the penalties, sounded like he agreed when he said, “We have not found the University of Washington guilty in that sense,” but then later, he astoundingly added, “There is an environment here that allows you to be taken care of, and that would create both a recruiting and ultimately, a competitive advantage.”

Husky fans insisted the latter statement contradicted the former statement.

Even rival coaches felt the Pac-10 sanctions on UW were far too severe. Then-Washington State coach Jim Walden said, “It’s almost like police brutality that the conference would go beyond the law. They put the death penalty on Don James, one of the most highly respected people in our profession.”

Don James felt his own university had turned their back on him when they apparently negotiated an extra year of bowl ban in exchange for one less television year. He was even more critical of the Pac-10, saying, “It seemed like they were out to get us because we were so good, rather than help us get through this.”

56524920_crop_340x234Harry How/Getty Images

Coach James quit in protest over the entire matter, feeling it was a kangaroo court from the start. Former UW president William Gerberding added, “Some small minds and people seized the opportunity to punish our coach, our team and our university.”

Players on the Husky team even went so far as to file a lawsuit against the Pac-10, claiming breech of contract, penalties “grossly disproportionate to the University’s violations” and evidence of a conspiracy engineered by UW’s Pac-10 competitors to sideline UW’s football program and thereby improve their own records.

Meanwhile, schools like Auburn had been given similar penalties as those imposed on UW, but with far more egregious crimes.

Two years prior, former Auburn players Eric Ramsey and Alex Strong claimed they had been paid by assistant coaches, with Strong claiming he had received “a couple of thousand a year” from former Auburn assistant Frank Young. Here was the University of Washington, absolved of knowledge, being hit with more sanctions and penalties than schools where their own coaching staffs were caught red-handed.

How could this be fair?

But in spite of all the Husky whining about the Pac-10 sanctions, things got far worse the following April 27. The NCAA, feeling that they wanted in on this too, slapped the Huskies with a second year of a television ban, through 1994, and added a third year of probation extending the time to the summer of 1996.

All while no evidence of any wrongdoing by the University of Washington other than ticky-tac matters like $2 fruit bowls given to recruits and free T-shirts during a visit, had been proved.

What drove Husky fans nuts was knowing that every single school in the nation was guilty of similar things, but had not been discovered simply because they had not been investigated. The real crime UW was guilty of was being investigated in the first place!  How could UW be penalized for minor issues that every single university in the country was also guilty of? Why single out only one school?

Nevertheless, the NCAA alleged the dreaded and vague “lack of institutional control,” mostly centered on allegations that university had not monitored the use of entertainment and meal money by athletes above allowable amounts.

Needless to say, the University of Washington and their fans were absolutely livid. There were calls to quit the Pac-10 and become an independent. And to this day, now almost two decades later, Husky alumni are still furious about what went on during these investigations.

UW did manage to have several decent seasons following all this in 2001, winning the Rose Bowl, but the past 10 years have been a nightmare, bottoming out with a 0-12 record several years ago. Most feel all of this is the legacy of sanctions that were far too severe for the crime, and bogus reports made famous by unscrupulous newspaper reporters in Los Angeles.

All of which brings us back to the USC situation and their appeal to be heard tomorrow.

With the Reggie Bush situation, the sanctions on USC are similar in punch to those placed on the University of Washington by the Pac-10, let alone those piled on a year later by the NCAA.The NCAA hit the Trojans with a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation and loss of scholarships similar to what UW paid. But unlike the Huskies, the Trojans were not banned from television, though they are being threatened with having to forfeit all games and a national championship won in 2004.

But the Pac-10 never hit the Trojans like they did the University of Washington—football rivals judging a program that had repeatedly beaten all of them for years, all while claiming justice.

Thus the question becomes, considering what was done to the University of Washington by not only the LA Times and how they reported so many things that were not deemed credible enough to become part of the case, but also by the Pac-10, how can USC  complain when their program was convicted of far deeper issues than UW ever had?

If USC wins their appeal, how is this fair to other programs slapped with similar sanctions by the NCAA?

And thus the greater problem facing USC is not whether they were guilty or not, or whether the investigations were fair, nor whether witnesses were credible. The issue is: since so many other programs have made similar accusations about the NCAA, why should USC be treated any differently?

51850259_crop_340x234Chris Trotman/Getty Images

And how can any of this be just, when other rival programs in the conference have alumni donating hundreds of millions specifically to athletic programs for a competitive advantage?

The NCAA justifies all this investigating and sanctions as their tools to keep things fair.  And yet they’re allowing hundreds of millions donated to other programs that directly tie to recruiting?

How is this fair? How COULD this be fair?

Furthermore, how can an organization earning billions of dollars from TV contracts, rule fairly when certain members earn more of that revenue for the NCAA, than do other programs like the University of Washington?  And how is it fair for an organization that refuses to pay their athletes be in charge of all this?

Isn’t this a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house?

All these are matters that signify a huge hill to climb for the University of Southern California tomorrow. Especially when rival schools have still not forgiven conference foes of their part in what was done to the University of Washington in 1993, and when rival schools benefit from a USC on probation.

POLL: Were the sanctions against UW in 1993 by the NCAA and Pac-10 fair?

  • yes

  • no


Total votes: 468

Written by PhilCaldwell

January 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

Washington vs. Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl and ESPN’s Pathetic Coverage

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With anxious Washington Husky and Nebraska Cornhusker fans bouncing off the walls at homes across the west, giddy with excitement for the opening kickoff of the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego, ESPN’s broadcast was nowhere to be found.
They were too busy covering the Franklyn American Mortgage Company’s Music City Bowl from Nashville, Tennessee.

For what seemed to be months last night, ESPN made the Holiday Bowl fans wait, staying with the Music City Bowl on two separate cable TV channels on Comcast. And on the other two ESPN channels was a women’s college basketball game between UConn and Stanford.

None of us Holiday Bowl fans really cared all that much about the Music City Bowl, nor the women’s basketball game.  But that didn’t matter to the crack ESPN network team!

So we all waited patiently for the game we gathered to see, to be broadcast by ESPN.

In house parties and bars across the mid and northwest.

And we waited some more.  And then some more.

Fifteen minutes after what should have been the start of the Holiday Bowl telecast, Washington Husky and Nebraska Cornhusker fans patiently waited for their game.


Unfortunately for Holiday Bowl fans, North Carolina got what appeared to be an undeserved break with one second left, and quickly converted that to a field goal to tie that game and send it into overtime.

ESPN, being the devoted network loyal to their viewers, was not about to cut away from that Music City Bowl game at such an important moment. Because ESPN cares about their viewers!

Or at least the ones east of the Mississippi.

Sideline analysis about “the hit” carried on for dozens of minutes, featuring several hundred replays from different angles. A North Carolina Tar Heel got his clock cleaned by a Tennessee Volunteer defensive back.

Cool play, but nobody really cared about it out west.

What we did care about was the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, between the feared Nebraska Cornhuskers dressed in white with red pants, and the Washington Huskies donning their all-black uniforms for only the second time ever.

Nevertheless, ESPN continued with the Music City Bowl coverage.

As ESPN reviewed more shots of replays we’d already seen a dozen times, Husky and Cornhusker fans were beginning to suspect that the Holiday Bowl game might not be a high priority at ESPN.


Especially when they continued showing the same replays again after that. And again, as Holiday Bowl fans realized they were missing the first quarter of the game they actually cared about.

Ten more minutes passed, then 15, and then 20. House parties across the states of Washington and Nebraska wondered why those idiots at ESPN were not showing their game on another channel, or at least doing a split screen for crying out loud?!?

At about this time, a few fortunate Holiday Bowl fans were discovering something else to kill the time with. On another cable TV channel, they were showing past Saturday Night Live shows. Funny stuff, with skits from old cast members during their best moments.

Good thing too, because a dozen minutes later ESPN was STILL showing the detested Music City Bowl game.

That nobody cared about.

Hey what’s this?  Quickly flipping between the two channels, we accidentally discovered something we wished we had seen earlier.  On the very small ticker tape at the bottom of the screen in tiny print,  was news that the ESPN3 website was showing the game that we had all gathered to see.

So as ESPN droned on and on with replays and highlights from the North Carolina vs Tennessee game, a small laptop computer was located and set up, in the middle of the room of about 30 people at our party.


A tiny little screen too, that we might be able to convert to the larger screen if someone could find the right chord.

We’d worry about that later. Just get the Holiday Bowl game up already.

After fiddling to get the computer turned on, with grumbling Holiday Bowl fans getting cranky, we located the ESPN3 website.

The slow computer kept hanging and freezing up at various sub-sites off of ESPN3.

Finally after more verbal abuse, the screen was navigated to the proper place with agitated Holiday Bowl fans getting more and more impatient. But sadly all were treated to a jittery and blurry feed of the game.

But at least it was the one we cared about, even though it was a frozen screen that only moved once every dozen seconds.

Which lasted about five minutes before the computer completely locked up the video feed for good.

Havoc and mayhem broke out midst the faithful. Objects and paraphernalia could be seen hitting walls.

Patrons discussed options of bodily abuse, which they would commit against whichever ESPN dimwit was making these idiot broadcast decisions.


Meanwhile back on cable TV, it finally appeared that the dreaded North Carolina vs Tennessee game (that nobody cared about) was winding down.

But what’s this? Husky and Cornhusker fans were re-directed to a fresh scene, but not the one we wanted.

This time it was a tanned and relaxed Lou Holtz, sitting at a large sports desk with several other ESPN nimrods, discussing the same replays.  A huge ESPN announcer debate broke out that lasted half a dozen more minutes.

Afterwards Lou and the team shared home movies of their recent vacations.

Husky and Cornhusker fans sobbed uncontrollably, wondering why these pinheads at ESPN refused to show their game??

After what seemed several months of post game Music City Bowl analysis (that nobody cared about), ESPN reluctantly decided to broadcast the Holiday Bowl.

Can you believe it?!?

Highly efficient ESPN announcers immediately reminded viewers just joining them (as if that was our fault), that the University of Washington Huskies had been 0-12 several years earlier and had been pummeled by the Nebraska Cornhuskers earlier this season.


Nebraska fans felt gypped to be playing in this bowl. The Huskies were lucky to be here.

Meanwhile delighted west coast fans quickly abandoned the Saturday Night Live reruns upon discovering that ESPN was actually covering the game they were supposed to have on an hour earlier.  Scattered guests hurriedly rushed back to living room screens.

That same hapless and undeserving Husky team was astonishing the masses.  They were playing in a way nobody could have predicted! The University of Washington held a ten point lead with 12 minutes left in the second quarter!

Nobody knew how they got that lead.

And yet Nebraska was driving. Nebraska QB Kyler Reed hit receiver Taylor Martinez at the front left corner of the end zone, just beyond the fingertips of several diving Huskies. It finished a ten play 74 yard drive with just over six minutes left in the second quarter.

Suddenly it was a scant 10-7 Husky lead!

Hey wait just a minute here! Unexpectedly ESPN broke away from Holiday Bowl coverage to bring us the stunning news, that the Stanford women were about to break UConn’s 90 game win streak!

That not a single one of us gave a rip about!


From the same game, mind you, that was being broadcast on not one, but TWO other ESPN channels on Comcast.

You would think that ESPN executives might have reasoned, that if someone had actually been interested in that women’s basketball game, they probably already would have been watching it? On ESPN2, on two separate places on Comcast devoted entirely to that game.

You would think.

Nope. Holiday Bowl fans were forced to watch another half dozen minutes of that women’s game, including a replay of the entire last minute.

With ESPN commentary afterwards, of what shocking news this was!

That none of us cared about.

Meanwhile as all four of their Comcast cable channels were focused on the women’s basketball game, exactly ZERO channels were showing us the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl from San Diego, that we had all gathered to see.

Flabbergasted house guests were now hurling bricks and chairs, as excited ESPN announcers showed replays of the final minute of that women’s game that nobody gave a flying ……….

When announcers finally ran out of things to say, they promised to return us to the Holiday Bowl.

But first this important commercial word from Cialis. Two naked retirees in side by side bathtubs grossed us all out for another four minutes, as we missed the game.

After several more announcements, ESPN cut back to replays mid-action, showing a missed ref call for what should have been a helmet to helmet hit on Jake Locker.

Plus several other mutilations of Husky receivers by Nebraska defenders, impeding their progress on sideline routes without being flagged.

Which of course ESPN announcers mentioned only in passing, like a mom pointing out a pretty house, on a Sunday afternoon drive with her bored kids.

Meanwhile back at the Holiday Bowl, Sark and Holt were throwing tantrums to astounded referees.

ESPN missed all of this too, because they were busy discussing the recent weather in Southern California, including mud slides, and how it had left the turf at the Holiday Bowl soiled and muddy.

Oh and by the way, the Huskies were 0-12 several years prior, and probably didn’t deserve to be playing in this game.


Something they had mentioned moments before they cut to the women’s game.

They mentioned it again several minutes later.

But in a miraculous change of events, that would be the last time ESPN broke away from covering the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego, played at Qualcomm Field.

The Washington Huskies would go on to upset the Nebraska University Cornhuskers 19-7.  It would give Washington Husky fans something to cheer about, this late in a season, for the first time since the 2002 Rose Bowl.

Several shots were shown of smiling Husky fans on the field and with coach Sark, before quickly returning us to the ESPN studios, where discussion immediately focused on the Music City Bowl.

The game where too many men had been on the field, on that last play that led to the field goal, that sent it into overtime.

“Here, let’s take a look at the replay.”



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