Aug. 27, 2007
The Game: The 2007 Husky football season gets underway this Friday, August 31, when the Huskies travel across the country to face Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Kickoff for the nationally-televised game (ESPN) is set for 8:00 p.m. EDT/5:00 p.m. PDT. The Husky team will fly to Syracuse on Wednesday and return to Seattle early Saturday morning. The game kicks off a schedule that many national pundits are calling the nation's toughest. After the Syracuse game, the Huskies return home to face a pair of BCS bowl teams from last season - Boise State and Ohio State - before traveling to face UCLA. Then another BCS team, USC, comes to Husky Stadium to close out a challenging first month of the season.
Huskies vs. Orange History: Not surprisingly for two teams on the other sides of the country from one another, Washington's history vs. Syracuse is relatively brief. However, the two teams have played two games back in the 1970s, one at each team's home field. On Sept. 29, 1973, Syracuse traveled to Husky Stadium, where the UW picked up a 21-7 win. After a scoreless first quarter, the Huskies got on the board in the second when Steve Lipe blocked a punt and scored after a three-yard runback. In the third quarter, Husky QB Denny Fitzpatrick ran in from three yards out and, in the fourth, a 63-yard run from backup quarterback James Anderson made it 21-0. Syracuse QB Robert Sutton scored on a one-yard run about midway through the final periord to account for the visitors' only points. Despite notching 22 first downs to the Huskies' nine, Syracuse was out-gained, 283 yards to 214, in total offense. Four years later, on Sept. 24, 1977, Syracuse evened the series with a 22-20 win at Archbold Stadium. The game was won on a 31-yard field goal by Dave Jacobs with only 23 seconds remaining. The Orange took the early lead with a first-quarter TD run from Jim Sessler and a second-quarter field goal from Jacobs. However, Washington took the lead by halftime as Warren Moon connected with receiver Spider Gaines on a pair of scoring passes (25 and 51 yards) in the second quarter. In the third, Jacobs kicked a second field goal and the Orange went back on top when a Husky punt was blocked and recovered in the endzone. After a two-point attempt failed, Syracuse led, 19-14. Moon put the Huskies back on top with a four-yard run with 3:38 remaining in the game (a two-point attempt also failed), but Bill Hurley led a drive that ended in Jacobs' third field goal of the day to win it. Hurley finished with 113 yards while Art Monk added 83 for the home team. Moon completed 16-of-25 pases for 257 yards and two TDs for the UW while Gaines caught seven passes for 169 yards. UW head coach Tyrone Willingham has faced Syracuse once before as a head coach. His Notre Dame squad lost, 38-12, at the Carrier Dome on Dec. 6, 2003. While Syracuse head man Greg Robinson has faced Washington as an assistant coach, he's never squared off with the UW, or Willingham, has a head coach.
Television: The Washington-Syracuse game will air live on ESPN, with Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Colin Cowherd and Rob Stone providing the commentary. Additionally, "Husky Football All-Access" airs each Thursday at 7:00 p.m. during the season on Fox Sports. The program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one interviews and sideline video.
Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to three different states and British Columbia, Canada, on 21 different radio stations. Longtime play-by-play man Bob Rondeau and color analyst Chuck Nelson are joined by sideline reporter Elise Woodward. Many game broadcasts will also be carried on XM Satellite Radio on channel 194, 195 or 196 and can be heard over the internet via the Dawg Channel at gohuskies.com, which is available for no charge this season.
Washington-Syracuse Ties: Not surprisingly, considering the geography, there aren't many ties between players on the Washington and Syracuse rosters. The Orange roster does not include any players from the state of Washington while the Husky roster has no one from the state of New York. In fact the UW roster's easternmost import is Charles Hawkins, who came to Seattle from Chicago. However, Syracuse does have two California's listed on its media guide roster: long snapper Ian Hammond (Mission Viejo) and cornerback Ryan Howard (Carson). Neither attended the same high school as any UW player, but Hammond and UW long snapper Danny Morovick both went to Saddleback CC in Mission Viejo. However, despite playing the same position, they weren't teammates as Morovick didn't play football at Saddleback in the one semester he attended there (and because Hammond is several years older). Syracuse also has one other player from the northwest: freshman Jonathan Meldrum, from Boise, Idaho. Even despite Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson's west-coast ties, there aren't many more relationships between the teams' coaching staffs than there are between their players. Robinson coached at UCLA from 1982 to 1989, but no current Husky coaches ever served on a Bruins staff, and most of the rest of the Syracuse staff hails from the eastern part of the country. However, Phil Earley, the Orange QBs coach, was a member of Chris Tormey's staff when Tormey was head coach at both Idaho and Nevada. Early has also worked at both Washington State and Western Washington. He is a graduate of Port Angeles (Wash.) High School and has degrees from both Pacific Lutheran and Western Washington.
Huskies vs. The Big East: Washington has played against only three current football-playing members of the Big East Conference: Connecticut, Pittsburgh and, of course, Syracuse. The Huskies are 3-5 all-time against that trio. Aside from their 1-1 record against the Orange (detailed earlier), the Dawgs are 1-0 against UConn (a 21-17 win in Seattle in 1974) and 1-4 against the Panthers. Washington and Pitt first played in the 1937 Rose Bowl (a Panthers win). Pitt also won a 1939 game at Husky Stadium. In slightly more recent times, the Huskies won in Seattle in 1961, lost at Pitt in 1963 and lost in Seattle in 1979. The last time the UW played a game at a Big East opponent's home was the 1977 game at Syracuse.
Dawgs in the East: Washington's trip to Syracuse this week will mark a rare occasion for a UW football team - a trip to a state bordering the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the Huskies' previous visit to Syracuse remains the easternmost game the Huskies have ever played as Syracuse is, in terms of its longitude, east of both Durham, N.C. (where the UW played Duke in 1973), and Miami, Fla. (where the Huskies have played vs. Miami and in the Orange Bowl game), the two closest competitors for the Huskies' easternmost games of all time. The Huskies' only other New York-based opponent has been Army, but both Army-UW games (1988, 1995) were played in Seattle.
Season Openers: Washington is 80-31-6 all-time in season openers, good for a mark of .709. Since 1989, Washington has posted a 10-7 record in season openers - 6-1 at home, 4-5 on the road, 0-1 neutral site. In that 17-season span, the Huskies have opened vs. a ranked team eight times: vs. No. 15 Stanford in 1993 (W, 31-14), at No. 17 USC in 1994 (L, 24-17), at No. 20 Arizona State in 1996 (L, 45-42), vs. No. 19 BYU in 1997 (W, 42-20) at No. 8 Arizona State in 1998 (W, 42-38), vs. No. 11 Michigan in 2001 (W, 23-18), at No. 12 Michigan in 2002 (L, 31-29) and at No. 2 Ohio State in 2003 (L, 28-9).
Opening on the Road: Washington has opened its season on the road only 11 times in the last 31 seasons (not counting the Air Force game in 2005, which was played at a neutral site (Seahawks Stadium) despite being Air Force's home game), and has gone 6-5 in those games. The most recent road opener was a 28-9 loss at defending national champ and No. 2-ranked Ohio State in 2003 in Keith Gilbertson's first game as head coach. The year before, the Dawgs lost 31-29 at No. 13 Michigan. Prior to that was a 35-28 loss at BYU in 1999 in Rick Neuheisel's first game in charge of the Huskies. In 1998, the Huskies used the "Miracle in the Desert" (a 67-yard pass from Brock Huard to Reggie Davis on 4th-and-17 with 0:28 left) to beat Arizona State, 42-38, in a road opener. Others in the last 31 seasons: 42-20 win at BYU (1997), 45-42 loss at ASU (1996), 24-17 loss at USC (1994), 31-7 win at ASU (1992), 42-7 win at Stanford (1991), 20-6 win at Purdue (1988) and 34-0 win at Northwestern (1983).
Only The Big Boys: As of Sept. 1, 2007, Washington will be one of just six NCAA Division I-A programs that has never faced a non-Division I-A opponent since the current division setup was established in 1978 (the division's names have undergone a change this year, but the setup is still the same). Both Michigan and Ohio State will fall out of the club as the Wolverines open the season with Appalachian State and the Buckeyes with Youngstown State on Sept. 1. The five remaining schools that have yet to play a non-Division I-A opponent since the advent of the current format are Michigan State, Notre Dame, USC, UCLA and Washington.
Decade After Decade: Washington has won a conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl in each of the last nine decades, dating back to the 1920s when Washington won the berth in 1923 and 1925. In the 1930s, the Dawgs won the `36 title. In the `40s, Washington earned the trip in 1943 and then barely slipped in under the wire in the 1950s, winning the 1959 crown. The Huskies won two Rose Bowl berths in the 1960s -- 1960 and 1963 -- and one in the 1970s (1977). Titles in 1980 and 1982 did it for that decade and three straight trips to Pasadena to begin the 1990s covered that 10-year span. Now in the 2000s, UW was the first team to earn Rose Bowl berths in nine straight decades. USC joined the Dawgs in that distinction in 2004 after their New Year's Day appearance in Pasadena.
Finishing First Or Second: Despite a lower division finishes in the Pac-10 the last three years, Washington has finished either first or second in the conference (including ties) in 18 of the last 30 seasons, dating back to a fourth-place finish in 1976. Over that span, Washington has won the championship (outright or shared) eight times - 1977, 1980, 1981, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995 and 2000 - while finishing second 10 other times.
The 100-Yard Factor: Since the 1947 season, Washington is 163-41-3 (.795) when a Husky player rushes for 100 yards in a game. The Huskies went 3-1 in such games in 2003, 1-1 in 2004 and 2-3 in `05. In the 2006 season opener vs. San Jose State, two Huskies (Louis Rankin, 145 yards; Isaiah Stanback, 102) ran for 100 or more in a UW win. Rankin then went for 112 in the loss at Oklahoma and ran for 118 in the Apple Cup win at Washington State.
History Lesson: Successfully rushing the football and winning go hand-in-hand for the Huskies. Since 1990, Washington has rushed for 200 yards in a game 65 times. The Huskies' record stands at 56-8-1 (.869) in those contests. Since the 1995 season, Washington is 31-5-1 (.851) when rushing for 200 yards. In their season opening win over San Jose State last season, the Huskies won behind 300 rushing yards in a win, but then ran for 204 in the loss at Oklahoma.
Playing At Home: Washington has gone unbeaten at home 13 times in its history, including six times in the last 18 seasons. Washington has won 77 of its last 106 (.731) games at Husky Stadium with one tie (77-28-1). Since 1980, the Huskies stand 125-39-2 (.759) at home. Since 1990, the Huskies are 48-21-1 (.693) at Husky Stadium vs. Pac-10 opponents.
Historic Husky Stadium: The 2006 season marks the 88th season of play in Husky Stadium. Original construction on the facility was completed in 1920 when Washington played one game in the new campus facility. Thanks to several major renovations, Husky Stadium's seating capacity has increased to its current total of 72,500. UW's all-time record in Husky Stadium currently stands at 342-151-21 (.686).
Captains: Washington does not have season-long captains as Coach Tyrone Willingham will name game captains each week. Each game's set of captains were informed of the honor the Friday night before each game and revealed to the fans, etc., when those four designated players take the field for the coin flip prior to each game. After the season gets underway, a list of captains for each week's game will follow here.
Degrees Of Success: Last June, a total of 11 current Husky football players participated in graduation ceremonies at the UW. While all remain enrolled and none have technically collected their diplomas, all have completed their coursework. Here's a list of the 11 current UW football players who went through graduation ceremonies last June: Wilson Afoa (American ethnic studies), Carl Bonnell (history), Cody Ellis (sociology), Robert Lewis (Spanish), Roy Lewis (American ethnic studies), Chad Macklin (general studies), Louis Rankin (American ethnic studies), Jordan Reffett (political science), Anthony Russo (American ethnic studies), Corey Williams (art history) and Sho Yoshinaga (electrical engineering).
Family Ties: As is the case with most seasons of Husky football, there are a number of players on the Washington football team related to either current or former Huskies. Linebacker Trenton Tuiasosopo is a first cousin of former Huskies Marques and Zach Tuiasosopo as well as older sister, Leslie, a standout Husky volleyball player and now an assistant coach for the UW volleyball team. Fullback Luke Kravitz' father Al, was a defensive end that lettered at the UW in 1970 and 1971. Sophomore fullback Paul Homer is a cousin, by marriage, of former Husky offensive lineman Aaron Dalan, who married former Washington women's basketball player Gena Pelz. Sophojmore defensive end Fred Wiggs is the younger brother of former Husky defensive lineman Sekou Wiggs and, finally, freshman safety LonZell Hill is the son of former standout receiver LonZell Hill.