The Washington Huskies’ history in the Rose Bowl goes back to 1924, so let’s take a walk down memory lane.
It started with a tie, of all things.
The Washington Huskies’ history in the Rose Bowl goes back to 1924, when they played the Navy in Pasadena.
There were 40,000 people on hand to watch the Huskies and the Midshipmen play to a 14-14 tie. There will be well more than twice that number when UW plays in the game for the 15th time Tuesday.
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In between, Washington has had some of the program’s greatest moments in the Rose Bowl, with a record of 7-6-1 in the bowl game that was often referenced as the “Granddaddy of Them All.”
In 1960 and 1978, the Huskies shocked the world in Pasadena. In 1992, they finished off a perfect season.
Of course, there has been heartbreak, too, but who wants to spend much time dwelling on that?
Here is a look back at the seven Husky victories in the Rose Bowl.
1960: Washington 44, Wisconsin 8
Yes, 44-8. Certainly, no one was expecting that. At least not from Washington.
The Big Ten had won 12 of the previous 13 Rose Bowls, and the Badgers had a distinct advantage in size. No wonder the Badgers were 6 1/2-point favorites over the Huskies, who were 0-3-1 in their previous four Rose Bowl appearances.
But it was all Huskies on this day.
The suspense was over early, with Washington taking a 17-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter on a 53-yard punt return by George Fleming, who also made a 36-yard field goal and five extra points.
Quarterback Bob Schloredt had a combined 188 yards rushing and passing and was named co-MVP with Fleming after the win, still the most lopsided Rose Bowl since 1948.
To some, it still ranks as the greatest victory in UW history. But for Don McKeta, a star running back and defensive back for the Huskies, it was a letdown.
“That was the worst game of the year,” McKeta said recently. “All your life you read about the Rose Bowl and how great the Big Ten is, and then you go out there and clean their clocks.”
1961: Washington 17, Minnesota 7
The Huskies were back a year later, and once again the underdog.
In those days, the major polls took place before the bowl games and Minnesota was the national champion in most.
The Golden Gophers were bigger than UW and were a seven-point favorite. But like the year before, the Huskies took control early, taking a 17-0 lead at halftime and never losing control.
Schloredt threw for a touchdown and ran for another and was the Rose Bowl MVP for the second straight season.
The two polls that were held after the bowl games were split. The Football Writers Association of America picked Mississippi. The Helms Foundation chose UW. In 2007, Washington had a ceremony recognizing that team as national champs.
1978: Washington 27, Michigan 20
This was supposed to be a mismatch.
Fourth-ranked Michigan was 10-1 and had outscored its opponents by a 3-to-1 margin. UW was 7-4, and just getting to the Rose Bowl was a major upset after it started the season 1-3.
The Wolverines were favored by more than two touchdowns, but that sure seemed silly as the Huskies, playing uncharacteristically wide open, took a 24-0 lead early in the second half.
Michigan stormed back, though, and had a great chance to tie the score with under two minutes left as it had the ball at the UW 8-yard line. But Husky linebacker Michael Jackson intercepted a pass at the goal line, and then after Michigan got another chance in the final seconds, UW cornerback Nesby Glasgow intercepted a pass to seal one of the great upsets in Seattle sports history.
Husky quarterback Warren Moon was named MVP after throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown and running for two scores.
“It was not expected we could stand in there with Michigan head to head,” UW coach Don James said after his first of four Rose Bowl wins.
1982: Washington 28, Iowa 0
The Huskies posted the first Rose Bowl shutout in 29 years as running back Jacque Robinson rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead UW to a 28-0 win over Iowa.
“I thought it would be a low-scoring game, but I never thought we would hold them off the scoreboard,” UW linebacker Mark Jerue, who had 13 tackles, said after the game.
Robinson, a freshman who did not see regular action until late in the regular season, was dynamic.
“It was a lot of fun to hand him the ball,” sophomore quarterback Steve Pelluer said about Robinson after the game. “He really showed them what he could do.”
1991: Washington 46, Iowa 34
This game might have given UW a national championship had the Huskies not been upset at home by UCLA late in the season.
But the Huskies clearly were motivated, taking a 33-7 lead at halftime and winning much more easily than the final score indicated.
Sophomore quarterback Mark Brunel was the MVP after completing 14 of 22 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 28 yards and two more scores. Senior running back Greg Lewis added 128 yards rushing, and there was plenty to celebrate after this win.
“We really complemented each other well,” said James, referring to the kicking game, defense and offense. “If our opponent made mistakes, we were able to put points on the board. And that was the great thing about the first half. Just about everything that was negative for Iowa … we were able to capitalize on.”
1992: Washington 34, Michigan 14
The Huskies capped off a perfect season, whipping a very good Michigan team that was third and fourth in the two major polls entering the game and led by Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
But the Huskies dominated this game, much like they had most every other game during the season.
Billie Jo Hobert threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns and another score to lead the UW offense, and the Husky defense, led by defensive lineman Steve Emtman, held Michigan to 205 yards. Howard was held to one catch for 35 yards.
Hobert and Emtman were co-MVPs.
The Huskies finished 12-0 and were voted No. 1 in the coaches poll. Miami was voted No. 1 in the AP poll.
Still, Husky fans had no doubt who the nation’s best team was. Coach James was impressed too.
“I know I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” James said afterward. “Not just today, but for the entire season. We played better today than we ever had; as a program, we’ve never accomplished anything quite like this game or this season.”
2001: Washington 34, Purdue 24
UW senior quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo returned from a sprained shoulder that briefly sidelined him in the third quarter to lead the Huskies over the Boilermakers and their star quarterback, Drew Brees.
But it was Tuiasosopo who was celebrating at the end, named the game’s MVP after running for 75 yards on 15 carries and completing 16 of 22 passes for 138 yards.
The Huskies finished 11-1 and No. 3 in both national polls.
It was the high point of Rick Neuheisel’s four seasons as head coach.
For Tuiasosopo, it was a great ending to a stellar career.
“He’s real good,” Purdue defensive end Akin Ayodele said of Tuiasosopo afterward. “A lot of times we thought the fullback had the ball and he pulled it out. There he was, running down the field.”