Dec. 31, 2000
PASADENA, Calif. - Fourth-quarter magic got No. 4 Washington to the Rose Bowl. At least one member of the Huskies has had enough of the nail-biting finishes.
"They're never that fun," fullback Pat Conniff said. "They're great for the crowds. For a player, it takes years off your life."
The Huskies (10-1), who face No. 14 Purdue (8-3) in the 87th Rose Bowl on Monday, rallied for all but two of their wins. Coach Rick Neuheisel said it was no accident.
When he arrived at Washington in 1999, Neuheisel said, one stat jumped out: The 6-6 Huskies were outscored 97-31 in the fourth quarter the previous season.
"I said, 'If we could just turn around what we did in the fourth quarter, we can win all those close games that got away from us and put ourselves back in the Rose Bowl picture,"' Neuheisel said.
Washington improved significantly last season, scoring 106 fourth-quarter points to 82 for the opposition while going 7-5. But that was nothing compared to this season, when the count was 144-68.
"I have not seen a team that's been so good in the fourth quarter," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. "Look at their fourth-quarter scoring and forget the rest of it, that tells you a lot about this team."
Tiller hopes his team is in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter. Most of Washington's opponents were, all but one lost.
The biggest comebacks were against California, which led the Huskies 24-13 entering the final period before losing 36-24, and Arizona, which led 25-13 before losing 35-32.
"We look like Ding-Dong School sometimes the first eight, 10 minutes of the game," offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson said. "Early on, don't judge us. We have a few laughs, then start playing."
Tight end Jerramy Stevens said the Huskies have a refuse-to-lose attitude.
"You can just see it in all the guys' faces, we're not going to get beat," he said. "We hold four fingers in the air, `This is the fourth quarter, it's the last chance."'
Washington, 6-1-1 overall against Purdue, will be playing in its first Rose Bowl game in eight years and 14th overall. The Boilermakers will play in just their second - 34 years after Bob Griese guided them past Southern California 14-13.
Purdue will try to extend the Big Ten's Rose Bowl winning streak to five games and eight of nine.
"This is about us," Gilbertson said. "There hasn't been a lot of talk about carrying the (Pac-10) banner."
Senior quarterbacks Tuiasosopo and Drew Brees of Purdue both will be playing their final college games.
Brees, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, led the nation in total offense, passing for 3,393 yards and rushing for another 546. He was sacked only eight times.
"He's a great quarterback, one of the best," Tuiasosopo said. "He's brought his team back a lot this year."
So has Tuiasosopo, who was eighth in the Heisman voting. He passed for 2,146 yards and rushed for another 394.
"Our plans are to contain (Tuiasosopo), not stop him," Tiller said. "I don't think you can stop this guy, he's too talented, too good of a runner. He's going to throw the ball some, too. He's going to make his yards."
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer