Sept. 15, 2007
by Jeff Bechthold
SEATTLE - Say what you will about the Washington football program, there's one thing you'd have to concede: the Huskies play a tough non-conference schedule year in and year out.
Many programs go with the "ABC" approach to scheduling. You know, you pick an A-list team (a top-25 type to give the ticket-buyers their money's worth), a B-lister (a team with some name recognition, but not a big-timer) and someone from the C-list (a team you figure has little to no chance of beating you). For that matter, a lot of teams go with BBC or BCC.
And while the Huskies' schedule in recent seasons might have a B or a C team sprinkled in from time to time, there are almost always at least two A's.
Ohio State is, no doubt, an A-list team. The Buckeyes come to Seattle ranked No. 10 in the nation and fresh from a 12-1 season that ended in a loss to Florida in the BCS Championship game.
Fans from Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama and others will argue, but OSU might have as much tradition as any college football program in the nation. The Buckeyes have won numerous national championships and their longtime head coach, Woody Hayes, remains an icon in the game's history.
They boast seven Heisman Trophies, the winners of which span from 1944 (Les Horvath) all the way until 2006 (Troy Smith). OSU players have also won six Lombardi Trophies, four Maxwells, four Outlands, and at least one of pretty much every other college football award there is.
A-list? You bet. You could argue that the Huskies have three top-shelf teams on the schedule this year with Boise State (having come off of a 13-0 season) and Hawai'i, a team many think might be unbeaten when they host the Dawgs on Dec. 1.
Husky fans have come to expect such a schedule. Seemingly, every year a team with the biggest of big-time tradition finds itself on the UW's non-conference slate. Last year, it was Oklahoma. Two years ago? Notre Dame. Next season's schedule includes BYU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame -- all at Husky Stadium!
Many times over the years, teams from the Big Ten have found themselves on the Husky schedule. Ohio State and Washington have, in fact, met 10 times before today, and never in a bowl game. At one time or another, Washington has played every Big Ten team -- all eleven of them.
Many of those games have been memorable, particularly the bowl games. The Huskies' first bowl win came against Wisconsin in the 1960 Rose Bowl. The following year in Pasadena, the Huskies beat No. 1 Minnesota. Don James' first Rose Bowl win came over Michigan in 1978. The Husky legend also knocked off the Wolverines in the 1992 Rose Bowl, winning the Dawgs a national title. More recently, the UW beat Purdue in a memorable and emotional 2001 Rose Bowl.
Speaking of scheduling, OSU fans have to be, on some level at least, happy with the Huskies' success in their first two games: a 42-12 win at Syracuse followed with a 24-10 win over then-No. 22 Boise State last Saturday.
After all, writers and pundits had taken to referring to the Buckeyes' first four games of the season by another acronym -- YAWN, which stands for Youngstown State, Akron, Washington and Northwestern.
While the acronym remains, the ability to apply it to the OSU schedule has lost its edge to some degree thanks to the Huskies' strong start.
What today's game looks like is another great, inter-sectional matchup between two teams with long, proud traditions. It's also a reminder to Husky fans that, thankfully, their team's schedule only rarely offers a yawner.