Dec. 28, 2000
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Though it appears to be too late, Washington makes its case for the national championship when it takes on Purdue in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
The fourth-ranked Huskies (10-1) handed second-ranked Miami its only loss, a 34-29 setback in Seattle on Sept. 9. Washington lost its only game three weeks later, 23-16 at No. 8 Oregon, which has won 20 straight home games.
The Huskies may have as good an argument as anyone for playing in the Orange Bowl, considering they beat second-ranked Miami, which defeated then-No. 1 Florida State. Instead, it's Florida State that is facing top-ranked Oklahoma in the national championship game.
Despite missing out on the Orange Bowl, Washington coach Rick Neuheisel does not feel the need to gripe about the BCS.
"I'm happy to be going to the Rose Bowl, absolutely," he said. "When you come to a Pac-10 school, going to the Rose Bowl is the dream game.
"I think there's a time and place to do your lobbying. I just didn't think there was a time or place to do it. We got a chance to play Miami, I was happy with the outcome. I just play who's next on the schedule. It's Purdue, and we're happy to be playing them."
In his second year as coach, Neuheisel led Washington to its first 10-win season since 1991.
The Huskies, who have lost five of their last six bowl games, are led on offense by quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo.
Tuiasosopo was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year with 2,146 passing yards and 14 TDs. He has frustrated defenses all year with his ability to keep drives alive with both his arms and his legs.
Like counterpart Drew Brees, Tuiasosopo also has great scrambling ability, having finished the regular season with 406 yards rushing and six scores.
Brees is hoping to outplay Tuiasosopo while ending his spectacular college career on a high note.
A Heisman Trophy finalist, Brees is the Big Ten's career passing leader with 11,517 yards. The Boilermakers senior threw for 3,393 yards this season with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and also ran for 516 yards and five more TDs. Brees pilled up the passing yardage behind a line that allowed just seven sacks in his 473 attempts.
Purdue (8-3) is playing in the Rose Bowl for the second time and the first time since 1966, when quarterback Bob Griese led the Boilermakers to a 14-13 win over Southern California in Pasadena on Jan. 2, 1967.
Despite Brees' prolific passing, Purdue coach Joe Tiller realizes his team will be the underdog on Monday.
"I understand it, based on what Washington's accomplished," he said. "I expect us to play well, I'll be very disappointed if we don't."
This game likely will end the Rose Bowl's 54-year streak of pitting the Pac-10 against the Big Ten. Next year's edition will be host to the national championship game, meaning the conferences will not square off in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1946 unless the Pac-10 and Big Ten champions finish the regular season 1-2 in the BCS.
After next season's game, the Rose Bowl returns to its usual format until it hosts the national championship again in 2006.