Oct. 21, 2002
The Game: The Washington football team (4-3 overall and 1-2 in the Pac-10 Conference) will attempt to solve its road woes this week when it travels to face first-place Arizona State (5-2, 3-0) Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium. The game marks the third straight season that the Huskies have played the Sun Devils in Tempe. Game time at Sun Devil Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m. (MST and PDT ... daylight savings time doesn't switch back until later that night). The Huskies, who fell out of both the AP and coaches' rankings after losing at USC last Saturday, haven't won away from Husky Stadium since last year's game at Arizona State (a 33-31 win on a last-second John Anderson field goal), a stretch of five straight losses outside of Seattle (including the Holiday Bowl). ASU, tied with Washington State atop the Pac-10 standings, earned a No. 23 ranking in the Associated Press poll and the No. 25 spot in the USA Today/ESPN coaches' ranking. After travelling to Tempe, the Huskies will return home for their final two home dates of the season, vs. UCLA and Oregon State.
Huskies vs. Devils History: The Huskies hold a 15-8 record all-time against Arizona State in a series that only dates back to 1975. That game marked the only time that the two teams ever played one another prior to the Sun Devils joining the Pac-10 Conference for the 1978 season. Since then, the two have played one another every year between 1978 and now except for the 1983 and 1984 seasons. The Huskies lost that first-ever meeting at Tempe in 1975, 35-12, but routed the 12th-ranked Devils in the next meeting, winning 41-7 at Husky Stadium in 1978. One of the two teams (or both) has been ranked in 11 of the last 12 meetings, the only exception the 1999 game when the Devils came to Husky Stadium and beat Washington, 28-7. Some of the Huskies' most memorable games in recent history have come vs. ASU. In the 1995 season-opener, tailback Rashaan Shehee hit receiver Fred Coleman with a 30-yard TD pass late in the fourth quarter to give Washington a 23-20 win. The following year at Tempe, Washington trailed 42-21 before backup QB Brock Huard came on to lead the Huskies to three four-quarter TDs, but Robert Nycz kicked a 38-yard field goal with 0:02 left to win, 45-42. In 1998 at Sun Devil Stadium, the Huskies pulled off the "Miracle in the Desert" as Huard hit tight end Reggie Davis with a 63-yard pass on fourth-and-17 with 0:28 left in the game to pull out a 42-38 Washington win. Last season, the Huskies capped a seven-minute, 12-second drive with a 30-yard field goal with no time remaining to edge the Devils, 33-31. UW coach Rick Neuheisel is 2-1 against Arizona State while Dirk Koetter, ASU's second-year head man, is 0-1 vs. the Huskies as a head coach. As offensive coordinator at Oregon in 1996 and 1997, Koetter helped the Ducks to a win over the UW in 1996 and a loss the next year.
Already No. 1: Junior quarterback Cody Pickett is having an unprecendented season in terms of his passing statistics. Washington, well-known for producing NFL quarterbacks, has never seen the prolific numbers that Pickett is posting this season. Only seven games into his junior year, Pickett has already set a new single-season passing yards record with 2,601 this year (surpassing Cary Conklin's 2,569 in 1989). Now with 5,016 career yards, Pickett is only 727 yards shy of the UW career passing yards record of 5,742 (Brock Huard). Pickett also has a shot at the Pac-10 single-season passing record, especially with the 12-game schedule this year. Pickett must throw for 1,037 yards (an average of 207.4 per game) to break the conference record of 3,637 yards, set by Washington State's Ryan Leaf in 1997. Pickett's 2,601 passing yards this season already rank No. 40 in Pac-10 history, but he's only 332 yards away from the all-time top-10. Pickett is also only three completions short of Steve Pelluer's 1983 Husky record of 213.
Television: There is no live television coverage of the Washington-Arizona State game. However, the game will air on tape delay on Fox Sports in the Northwest with David Locke and former Husky QB Sonny Sixkiller providing the call. The replay will air Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Also, "The Washington Football Experience" airs each Thursday during the season on Fox Sports. The new program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one player interviews and sideline photography.
Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to five different states on 21 different radio stations. Longtime broadcast team Bob Rondeau (play-by-play), Chuck Nelson (color) and Bill Swartz (sidelines) provide the call.
Last Year vs. Arizona State: John Anderson booted a 30-yard field goal with no time left in the fourth quarter as the Huskies pulled out another fourth-quarter victory, beating Arizona State, 33-31. The Huskies got the ball at their own 10-yard line with 7:12 remaining in the final period and used all 7:12 over an 18-play drive. The Huskies looked as though they might finally get an easy win in the early going, jumping to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. Cody Pickett tossed TD passes to Todd Elstrom and Reggie Williams, and Anderson kicked a 31-yarder to account for that 17-0 margin. After an ASU touchdown, Pickett ran in from two yards out to give Washington a 24-7 lead. The Sun Devils, however, stormed back, kicking a field goal before halftime and opening the third quarter with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a three-yard TD run from Tom Pace. After a blocked punt for a safety,the Devils got six more on a 33-yard pass from Jeff Krohn to Shaun McDonald. Washington responded with a 23-yard run by Willie Hurst to go back in front, 30-25, but Delvon Flowers capped another 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Hurst had a career-high 185 rushing yards to lead the Huskies while McDonald caught nine passes for 194 yards.
Three In A Row In Tempe: Earlier this season, the Huskies played their third straight game vs. Arizona in Seattle, marking the first time since 1940 that the Huskies had played a conference opponent three straight seasons at Husky Stadium. This week, the UW will travel to Sun Devil Stadium for the third consecutive season. The last time the Huskies played a conference opponent on the road three straight years was 1933-35, when the Dawgs played at USC three times in a row. The Huskies played three straight games at Stanford just a bit more than a decade ago, but not in consecutive seasons -- 1988, 1990 and 1991 (the two teams didn't play one another in 1989). Incidentally, the UW went 3-0 in its three home games vs. Arizona and are 2-0 thusfar the last two years in Tempe.
Washington-Arizona State Ties: By intra-conference standards, there are almost no ties between the UW and Arizona State football teams. Of course, UW head coach Rick Neuheisel grew up in Tempe and attended McClintock High. Additionally, Husky offensive line coach Brent Myers was offensive coordinator under current Devils coach Dirk Koetter at Boise State in Koetter's first two seasons with the Broncos, 1998 and 1999. Myers served alongside a number of Koetter's current assistant coaches. Washington's roster includes only three players from the state of Arizona: linebacker Marquis Cooper (Gilbert), defensive lineman Terry Johnson (Tempe) and punter Derek McLaughlin (Mesa). Arizona State has two Washingtonians on its roster: wide receiver Skyler Fulton (Olympia) and fullback Mike Karney (Kent). Fulton's older brother, Josh, played one season of baseball at Washington in 2000.
USC Redux: Washington's air attack broke another bunch of records, but in the end, it wasn't nearly enough as the 19th-ranked Trojans rolled to a 41-21 win. Cody Pickett, only seven games into the season, broke the UW single-season record for passing yardage, adding 350 more to his total to surpass Cary Conklin's 1989 record. Pickett completed 34 of his 61 pass attempts with two interceptions and three touchdowns while tailback Braxton Cleman set a new Husky record with 15 receptions. Reggie Williams had his school-record eighth 100-yard receiving game and his record-tying third straight with 134 yards and a score on seven catches. However, the Huskies were held to minus-five rushing yards and the Trojans threw for 348 in a game that was never very close. Washington seemed to get a break on the game's first play when first-time starter Sam Cunningham (in for injured regular CB Roc Alexander) picked off a pass from USC QB Carson Palmer. However, the Huskies' field goal attempt on the ensuing drive was blocked. After an exchange of punts, Palmer hit Mike Williams for the first of three Williams TDs on the day, this time from 43 yards out. The Huskies scored on a five-yard pass from Pickett to Paul Arnold, but Palmer struck back, hitting Keary Colbert with a 61-yard scoring pass. After two Ryan Killeen field goals and two more Williams TDs gave USC a 34-7 lead at the end of three quarter, the Huskies began to make things interesting when Pickett threw touchdowns to Ware and Reggie Williams. However, the Huskies next drive after the Williams TD ended on a fourth-down incompletion, and the Trojans put the game away when tailback Justin Fargas ran in from 13 yards out. Palmer finished 21-for-34 for 348 yards and four touchdowns while both Mike Williams (159) and Keary Colbert (146) both surpassed 100 yards receiving.
Ranked-Wins Streak: Washington is still in search of its first win over a ranked opponent this year (the Huskies have had only two chances so far). If the UW does beat a ranked team in 2002, it will mark the 14th straight year the Huskies have beaten a team ranked in the Associated Press poll. Washington's upset of 11th-ranked Michigan in the last season's opener marked the 13th straight year. Washington has defeated an AP-ranked team in 24 of its last 25 seasons prior to 2002. The only break in the streak came in 1988 when the Huskies played only two games against nationally-ranked foes -- UCLA (No. 2) and USC (No. 3), losing both of those games.
Tough After Turnovers: While Washington has turned the ball over three more times than its opponents this year (13 to 16), the Huskies have been much more successful turning turnovers into points than have their opponents. In fact, the Huskies have scored 10 times after their 13 takeaways, and their three missed opportunities came on a missed field goal and a blocked field goal. The third came on the game's final play vs. Arizona, and thus did not present a chance to be converted into a score. In the meantime, UW opponents have scored six times on 16 turnovers -- five touchdowns and one field goal.
Pickett Moving Up: While junior quarterback Cody Pickett has already broken the Husky single-season passing record, he's also only 727 yards away from breaking the UW career passing record with nearly a season and a half yet to play. He also ranks on nearly ever other Washington career top-10 list, including No. 1 on several. In last Saturday's loss at USC, Pickett threw for 350 yards to extend his school record of seven consecutive 300-yard games. Pickett, who brought his career passing total to 5,016 yards, passed Cary Conklin (4,850) to climb to fifth all-time at Washington. Pickett, who is averaging 371.6 passing yards per game in 2002, needs 481 yards to pass Sonny Sixkiller (5,496) for fourth, and, again, is now just 727 yards shy of beating Brock Huard's school record of 5,742 passing yards. Pickett, who set a UW single-game record with 34 completions vs. Wyoming then broke it with 35 vs. Cal, now has 380 career completions, putting him seventh on that list. His career mark of 13.20 yards per completion ranks No. 8 and his 250.8 yards per game are currently a school record. His 19.0 completions per game are No. 1 and his career completion percentage of .602 is No. 2. Pickett boasts a slew of firsts: he is the first UW QB to post more than one career 400-yard game (he has three); the first to post nine 300-yard games; and the first to throw for 300 yards in more than two consecutive games (he has seven straight to start this current season). In just 20 career games Pickett already boasts five of the top seven and eight of Washington's top-15 single-game totals in passing yards. His 13 career 200-yard passing days are third-most in UW history and his nine 50-plus-yard passes equal Damon Huard's school record.
Pickett Among Nation's Elite: With his outstanding start to the 2002 season, junior quarterback Cody Pickett has placed himself among the nation's top signalcallers. Pickett ranks No. 17 in the nation in passing efficiency, but his raw totals are even more outstanding. His 363.4 yards per game of total offense ranks No. 2 in the nation (behind Marshall's Byron Leftwich at 387.5) and his 30.0 pass completions per game also ranks No. 2, trailing only Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (35.75). As a team, the Huskies rank No. 3 in passing offense and No. 8 in total offense in Division I-A.
Williams Chasing 'Super Mario': Sophomore wide receiver Reggie Williams was only one game into his sophomore season when he passed the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving. In the loss at USC, he had his third straight 100-yard receiving game (tying a school record) and his eighth career 100-yard day (breaking the school record). Williams, who ranks No. 11 in the NCAA in yards per game and 14th in receptions per game, passed three former Huskies on the career Husky receiving chart and currently ranks No. 4. With 1,762 career receiving yards, Williams leapt past Lonzell Hill, Brian Slater and Paul Skansi in the USC game alone. In only his second season, Williams is now just 332 yards away from No. 1, and needs to average 66.4 yards per game the rest of the season to surpass Mario Bailey (2,093 yards from 1988-91) as the Huskies' all-time receiving yards leader. Or, one could say that he needs to average only 19.5 yards over the next 17 games (through the end of his junior season) to break Bailey's record. Last week, with his 18th career game, Williams met the minimum number of games to rank on the UW career yards-per-game list and now ranks No. 1 by a large margin. With his average of 97.9 yards per game during his career thus far, Williams is 32 yards per game better than Brian Slater's former mark of 65.9.
Brax Is Back: Fifth-year senior tailback Braxton Cleman returned to the starting lineup last Saturday at USC and made a major impact -- not so much in the running game, but as a pass receiver. Cleman, who entered the game with 28 career receptions, shattered the UW single-game receptions record by catching 15 balls. His 15 catches smashed the Husky record of 12, set by receiver Dane Looker in a 1998 game at USC. Prior to Cleman's big day, the Husky record for receptions by a running back in a game was seven (a record shared by Cleman thanks to his seven catches vs. Cal earlier this season). His 15 catches, obviously, more than doubled that mark and tie for the second most in Pac-10 history (by backs or receivers). ASU's Ron Fair caught 19 passes in a 1989 game vs. Washington State and holds the Pac-10 record. Cleman's 15 receptions tied Daneane Douglas (Cal, 1998) and Johnnie Morton (USC, 1993) for second most in conference history. Incidentally, the NCAA record for most receptions in a game by a running back is 18, by Long Beach State's Mark Templeton vs. Utah State in 1986.