Chris Petersen was a relatively unknown name when the first-year, first-time head coach took Boise State to the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. He wouldn’t be Boise State’s best-kept secret for much longer.
Petersen’s signature victory is nearly more than a decade old, but the image of the then-Broncos head coach bouncing up and down with both arms raised above his head as he watched running back Ian Johnson run into the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime endures.
Now in his fifth year at Washington, Petersen hopes to cap this season with a similar image as he leads the Huskies into their first Rose Bowl Game since 2001.
Petersen’s 92-12 record in eight years Boise State made him a regular target of coaching speculation before he took the UW job in 2014. He matched his Boise State loss total in just two years at Washington, but now has the Huskies in their third straight New Year’s Six bowl.
Although Petersen, a former UC Davis quarterback, came from an offensive coaching tree, UW’s best teams under the head coach made their names with elite defenses. The Huskies, with co-defensive coordinators Pete Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake, have led the conference in scoring defense for four straight years despite consistent NFL turnover.
The Huskies will need their defense on New Year’s Day against Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins, the Ohio State quarterback who leads the country in passing yards.
A win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl would be Petersen’s first major bowl victory at UW after the Huskies lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff in 2016 and Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl in 2017. Petersen still ranks second among all active FBS coaches in winning percentage. He trails only his Rose Bowl coaching counterpart Urban Meyer.