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No love between UW and BYU: The series’ five most memorable matchups

The Huskies and BYU resume their rivalry that began in 1984, when the teams finished in the top two in the national polls.

The Washington-Brigham Young football rivalry began a year before the teams had ever played against each other.

The competition after the 1984 season was settled by the media and the coaches.

At stake was a national title, when champions were decided by polls.

BYU was No. 1 entering the Holiday Bowl, which it won 24-17 over a mediocre Michigan team that finished 6-6. Even though the Cougars were undefeated, they did not have a win over a team that finished in the top 20.

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Washington, meanwhile, finished 11-1 and defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 28-17 in the Orange Bowl.

Brigham Young won that battle, winning the AP vote by a count of 1,160 to 1,140. The coaches voted for BYU too. Husky fans were outraged.

BYU fans were outraged that UW fans were outraged.

As fate would have it, the two teams met nine months later in Provo, Utah. If Cougars fans took the 31-3 victory as validation that voters got it right, they were also overlooking that it was a completely different UW team, with many of the stars of the 1984 team having graduated.

On Saturday, the rivalry continues when No. 11 Washington hosts No. 20 BYU in the 10th game of the series, and it will be the third time both teams have been ranked in the top 20 at game time.

Washington leads the series 5-4. Let’s look back at the five most memorable matchups (in chronological order).

1985: At BYU 31, Washington 3

This is what UW faced upon arrival in Provo.

From an article in The Seattle Times: “BYU is No. 1” is a statement that can be found on restaurant signs, on supermarket signs, even on a dry cleaner’s marquee ­­­­– ‘In at 9, out at 5, BYU is No. 1.”’

Said UW senior QB Hugh Millen at the time: “Seeing those signs — that tends to be a little inspirational. I know the coaching staff tries to play it down, but it’s not real fun going around all year holding up two fingers.”

This game, however emotionally charged, was certainly no battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Washington was 0-1 and unranked, having lost to Oklahoma State, and BYU was No. 16 after losing the week before to UCLA.

“Last year is over and gone,” said UW coach Don James before the game. “A lot of players involved are no longer around. Right now, it’s two teams coming off a loss and needing a win.”

The game did not live up to its hype, particularly if you were rooting for the Huskies.

Washington had five turnovers, and BYU, known for its passing attack, rolled to an easy win despite not throwing a touchdown pass for the first time in 38 games.

“I was embarrassed by the way we played,” said James, whose team fell to 0-2 for the first time since his first UW team in 1975. “Probably (the worst start), with quality players. In the early years when we started out we weren’t very good, but I think we’ve got more talented players now. At least I thought we did.”

1986: At Washington 52, Brigham Young 21

The Huskies certainly were motivated, eager to avenge the blowout loss the year before. They opened the season the week before by destroying No. 10 Ohio State 40-7 and had moved up 10 spots to No. 7. BYU, meanwhile, was No. 11 and 2-0.

“We were on national TV and we had the flap over who was No. 1 the year before, and just like they wanted to show us, we wanted to show them,” James said days before the game. “Then we go out and just flop in front of all those people. That was not a lot of fun.”

But the Huskies had a lot of fun in the rematch at Husky Stadium.

Chris Chandler threw four touchdown passes and UW led 42-7 at halftime. Before the defensive starters came out for UW midway in the fourth quarter, BYU had 64 total yards and had been sacked eight times.

Said UW receiver Darryl Franklin after the game: “Two years ago they took a national championship away from us and last year they took away the respect the nation had for us by beating us so bad on television. Then they said they didn’t respect us. I think they do now.”

1997: Washington 42, at BYU 20

The two teams opened the season in the top 20, with Washington at No. 4 and BYU at No. 19. It was UW’s first trip to Provo since the debacle in 1985.

This time, the Huskies could not have had more fun, going up and down the field seemingly at will, and racking up 577 yards. Quarterback Brock Huard was 18 of 23 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Rashaan Shehee rushed for 171 yards and Jerome Pathon caught seven passes for 163 yards.

“I said all along, we needed to be able to run and prevent big plays,” BYU Coach LaVell Edwards said afterward. “We had to not make mistakes and we did that too many times.”

Said UW defensive end Chris Campbell, who had two sacks and 12 tackles: “It was almost a perfect game.”

2008: BYU 28, at Washington 27

In a year that Husky fans would like to forget after the team finished 0-12, this was one of the most crushing losses.

After BYU took a 28-21 lead with 3:31 left, UW quarterback Jake Locker led the Huskies on a 76-yard drive. He ran for a first down on fourth-and-10 and converted a second-and-19 with a pass.

Then, with two seconds left, Locker ran into the end zone for a touchdown that would presumably send the game into overtime, but Locker was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing the ball after his score, moving the extra point back 15 yards.

The kick was blocked, and the Huskies lost.

The Pac-12 refereeing crew took shots from around the nation for making the call, but it didn’t change the outcome.

“I was kind of disappointed in myself for doing that,” Locker said afterward. “I’ve never done anything like that in the past. I wasn’t trying to show anybody up by doing it. That’s not what I’m about.”

Said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall: “The rules are the rules. I’m glad that there was one play left still to decide the outcome, and I’m not sure that play or the penalty determined the outcome.”

2013: Washington 31, BYU 16 (Fight Hunger Bowl)

The only matchup between the two teams in a bowl game.

The Huskies were in transition, with coach Steve Sarkisian having left the team after the season to take the USC job. Although UW had hired Chris Petersen as Sarkisian’s replacement, Marques Tuiasosopo served as the Huskies head coach in the game.

And Tuiasosopo, who quarterbacked UW to a Rose Bowl win in 2001, had the Huskies ready.

John Ross had a 103-yard kickoff return, Bishop Sankey had two 11-yard touchdown runs and the Huskies entered the Petersen era with a feel-good victory in San Francisco.

“To see the guys on the field after the game and they’re laughing, some guys have tears of joy in their eyes, they’re hugging — that’s what was cool to me,” Tuiasosopo said after the game. “I’m going to remember these moments, this opportunity I had.”

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