Aug. 26, 2002
The Game: The Washington football team (8-4 overall in 2001, 6-2 in the Pac-10) kicks off the 2002 season by traveling to Ann Arbor for the first time since 1984. The Huskies, ranked No. 9 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason rankings, take on Michigan (No. 12 AP, No. 10 coaches) in a nationally televised game Saturday, Aug. 31, at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12 noon Eastern Time (9 a.m. PDT). The Wolverines, who also finished 8-4 overall last season, will be looking for some measure of revenge as the Huskies pulled out a late, 23-18 win last season when the two teams met at Husky Stadium. After opening on the road vs. UM, the Huskies return to Husky Stadium for five consecutive home games over the following six weeks. With a capacity of over 107,000, the Michigan Stadium crowd should mark the largest attendance ever for a Washington football game. Four of the top five crowds in UW history have come vs. Michigan -- three in the Rose Bowl and one at Ann Arbor. See page three for more on the Huskies' attendance records.
The Series: Michigan holds a one-win advantage in the all-time, 11-game series against Washington with six wins and five losses. However, all of the Huskies' five wins have come in the last seven meetings. The Huskies and Wolverines have met in the regular season seven times and in the Rose Bowl in the four other. Outside of Minnesota (17 meetings), Washington has played more games against Michigan than any other Big Ten team. The series got started in 1953, when Michigan crushed the UW, 50-0, in Ann Arbor. The following year in Seattle, Michigan posted another shutout, winning 14-0. In 1969 (at Ann Arbor) and 1970 (in Seattle), the Wolverines picked up two more wins, 45-7 and 17-3, respectively. Washington's first win over Michigan came in the 1978 Rose Bowl when MVP Warren Moon led the Dawgs to a 27-20 victory. Moon scored on two runs and passed for another TD. Michigan got its revenge in the 1981 Rose Bowl with a 23-6 win. In 1983 at Husky Stadium, Steve Pelluer hit Mike Pattison on a seven-yard TD pass with 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter, then hit Larry Michael for the two-point conversion, to lead Washington to a 25-24 win after Michigan had led, 24-10, in the fourth quarter. Pelluer completed 14 straight passes in the final period.
In 1984, in front of 103,072 at Michigan Stadium, Hugh Millen went 13-for-16 for 165 yards and a 73-yard TD to Pattison in the UW's 20-11 win over third-ranked Michigan. In the 1992 Rose Bowl, the Huskies capped a 12-0 season and a national title with a 34-14 win over the No. 4 Wolverines. Co-MVPs Billy Joe Hobert and Steve Emtman led the charge for the winners as Hobert went 18-for-34 with 292 yards and two TDs while Emtman led a defense that sacked Elvis Grbac six times. Michigan came back the following season to beat the Huskies in the '93 Rose Bowl, 38-31. UM tailback Tyrone Wheatley was the obvious star of the game, rushing for 235 yards and three touchdowns on only 15 carries. Wheatley scored on runs of 56, 88 and 24 yards. Last year in the Huskies' season opener at Husky Stadium, Roc Alexander ran back a blocked field goal for a score and Omare Lowe returned an interception for a TD as the Huskies rallied in the fourth quarter to win, 23-18. More details on that game on page three of this release.
Television: The Washington-Michigan game will be shown to most of the United States on ABC-TV, with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Bob Griese (color) and Lynn Swann (sidelines) providing the commentary. The game will also air on tape delay on Fox Sports in the Northwest with David Locke and former Husky quarterback Sonny Sixkiller calling the action. The replay will air Sunday at 5:00 p.m. and again Monday at noon. Replay times will vary until the end of baseball season. A new show, "The Washington Football Experience" will air for the first time next Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports. The new program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one player interviews and sideline photography. The show will air each Thursday through the season. Additionally, ESPN's College Gameday show, with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, will originate from Ann Arbor Saturday morning.
Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to 10 different states on 28 different radio stations. Bob Rondeau (play-by-play), Chuck Nelson (color) and Bill Swartz (sidelines) provide the call. The game will also air nationwide on the Westwood One network with John Tautjes and Fran Curci calling the action.
Neuheisel in the Big House: Husky coach Rick Neuheisel's history in Michigan Stadium dates back two decades and includes one of the most memorable plays in recent college football history. Neuheisel was a backup quarterback on a 20th-ranked UCLA team that went to Ann Arbor in 1982 and beat the No. 12 Wolverines, 31-27. Later that year, the two teams would meet in the Rose Bowl. In 1994, Neuheisel was quarterbacks coach when Colorado's Kordell Stewart threw a 63-yard, hail mary to Michael Westbrook with no time on the clock to give the Buffaloes a 27-26 win. In 1997, Neuheisel was CU's head coach when the Buffs dropped their season opener at The Big House, 27-3.
Last Year vs. Michigan: The Huskies' fourth-quarter magic continued from the previous season as the Dawgs scored two late TDs -- on a blocked field goal and an interception return -- to beat No. 11 Michigan, 23-18, in the Huskies' season opener at Husky Stadium. The Huskies struggled offensively with four new offensive linemen and new quarterback Cody Pickett, who performed admirably with 199 yards and no interceptions. Down 12-6 in the fourth, the Wolverines were set to try a 33-yard field goal. Omare Lowe blocked the kick and Roc Alexander took it 77 yards for a score. The PAT gave the Huskies their first lead since being ahead, 6-2. On the second play of Michigan's ensuing drive, Lowe picked off a John Navarre pass and ran it back 21 yards for a TD, increasing the edge to 20-12. John Anderson's third field goal of the day iced it. The game marked the first time since 1992 that the Huskies were held without an offensive touchdown and the first time since 1984 that they hadn't scored an offensive TD at home. Washington was held to only 69 rushing yards on the day while first-time starting QB Pickett completed 13-of-22 for 199 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. Navarre finished 26-for-44 for 248 yards while Marquise Walker caught 15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Reggie Williams became the first true freshman ever to start in his first game at Washington. Williams made the most of the opportunity, grabbing four receptions for 134 yards, including an 74-yard reception that likely would have resulted in a score had Williams not lost his shoe running down the sideline.
Huskies vs. Big Ten: Washington holds a 39-35-1 record all-time vs. Big Ten opponents, a record that includes an 0-2 mark against Penn State, though the Lions were not members of the Big Ten at the time of their games against the UW. Aside from last year's Michigan game, the Huskies' most recent action against Big Ten teams has come primarily in bowl games and in a series of games vs. Ohio State during the mid-1990s. The Huskies have played Big Ten teams six times in bowl games since 1990: Iowa in the 1990 Rose Bowl, Michigan in the 1992 and 1993 Rose Bowls, Iowa in the 1995 Sun Bowl, Michigan State in the 1997 Aloha Bowl and Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl. The Huskies went 4-2 in those games. Washington is 7-4 against Big Ten teams since 1990.
Big Crowds for UW-UM Four of the top five crowds ever to see Washington play a football game have been in attendance for a Husky game vs. Michigan. The largest crowd ever to witness a UW football game was at the 1982 Rose Bowl, when 105,611 saw the Huskies beat Iowa, 28-0. The next four largest crowds have all been UW-Michigan games -- three in the Rose Bowl and one in Ann Arbor. With recent expansions bringing Michigan Stadium capacity over 107,000, Saturday's attendance should be the largest ever to watch a Husky football game. Here are the top five attendances in Washington history:
Attend. Opponent Date Stadium Result 1. 105,611 vs. Iowa 1/1/82 Rose Bowl W, 28-0 2. 105,312 vs. Michigan 1/2/78 Rose Bowl W, 27-20 3. 104,863 vs. Michigan 1/1/81 Rose Bowl L, 23-6 4. 103,566 vs. Michigan 1/1/92 Rose Bowl W, 34-14 5. 103,072 at Michigan 9/15/84 Michigan Stadium W, 20-11
First Time in August: Like many teams in college football this season, the Huskies will be playing their first-ever game in the month of August this Saturday at Michigan. The earliest opening date in Husky history prior to this season was September 1, 1982, when the No. 2-ranked Huskies blew out Texas-El Paso, 55-0, to kick off a 10-2 season.
Washington-Michigan Ties: There aren't a great deal of ties between the Washington and Michigan teams. There is, however, one obvious connection: Chuck Heater. Heater, the Huskies' running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, played on three Big Ten champion teams in 1972, 1973 and 1974, starting each of those seasons as a fullback and wingback. He was also a freshman on the '71 team that won the Big Ten. Heater graduated from Michigan in 1975, but never coached there. Husky quarterbacks coach Steve Axman and Michigan head man Lloyd Carr spent one season together on the Illinois staff. In 1979, Axman coached the QBs and running backs while Carr was the secondary coach. In 1989, UW defensive coordinator Tim Hundley was the coordinator at Oregon State, overseeing a defensive staff that included Michigan d-line coach Brady Hoke. The Michigan roster includes one player from the state of Washington in defensive end Larry Stevens, a junior from Tacoma's Wilson High. There are no Michiganians on the Washington roster.
Opening on the Road: Washington has opened its season on the road only nine times in the last 26 seasons, and has gone 6-3 in those games. The most recent road opener 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 26 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).
Season Openers: Washington is 79-27-6 all-time in season openers, good for a mark of .732. Since 1989, Washington has posted a 9-3 record in season openers -- 5-0 at home and 4-3 on the road. In that 12-season span, the Huskies have opened vs. a ranked team (as they will this weekend) six 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) and vs. No. 11 Michigan last year (W, 23-18).
Top Traditions: Washington and Michigan are two of the top 15 teams in history in terms of all-time college football victories. The Wolverines, as a matter of fact, have won more games (813 entering the season) than any Division I-A team. In 121 years of football, Michigan is 813-266-36. Washington, with 112 seasons completed, is 14th on the all-time list with 625 wins. Incidentally, Michigan is No. 2 on the all-time list in winning percentage (.745) while Washington is 13th by percentage (.640).
To Be Continued: Washington's 2002 two-deep is both young and experienced, which bodes well not just for 2002, but for 2003 as well. Just nine of the 46 players on Washington's offensive and defensive depth charts (including co-No. 2s) are seniors, meaning that barring unexpected attrition, 37 of Washington's top 46 offensive and defensive players will return for the 2003 season, including 20 of 25 listed starters (includes co-starters). The list includes nine of 10 offensive linemen (with senior guard Elliott Zajac the lone senior), all six defensive linemen, and all eight members of the secondary, not to mention skill-position standouts Cody Pickett, Reggie Williams and Rich Alexis. Youth, however, does not necessarily equal inexperience. Of those 37 underclassmen, 27 already boast at least one letter, and 17 have started at least one game at Washington.
Home Winning Streak: Washington enters the season with the longest active home winning streak in the Pac-10 Conference at 14 games (Nebraska's 22-game home win streak is the nation's longest). The last time the Huskies lost a home game was a 28-7 defeat at the hands of Arizona State Oct. 16, 1999. The Dawgs won their remaining two home games that year, and have won all six games at Husky Stadium in each of the last two years. This season, the Husky schedule includes seven home games, including five in a row in the early part of the schedule. The modern Husky record for consecutive home wins is 17, set between 1991 and 1993, so if the Huskies can win their first four home games, they'll set a new modern school record. Last year, Oregon ran its home win streak to 23 games before losing to Stanford at Autzen Stadium. The Pac-10 record for home win streak is 26 (California, 1919-23). The Huskies' all-time record is 44 straight home wins, set from 1908 to 1917 (mostly prior to the founding of the conference), in the midst of the UW's 63-game overall unbeaten streak, still an NCAA record. The 44-game home win streak was broken by a 0-0 tie with Oregon State in 1917, but the UW went on to win six more home games after that, extending their home unbeaten streak to 51 games. The 44-game home winning streak is still the sixth-longest in NCAA history.
Playing at Home: The Huskies finished the home slate with a spotless 6-0 record in 2001, marking the 13th time ever and the sixth time in the last 10 seasons that the Dawgs have played perfect at home (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000). Washington has won 62 of its last 74 (.845) games at Husky Stadium with one tie (62-11-1). Since 1980, the Huskies stand 110-23-2 (.822) at home. Since 1990, the Huskies are 41-7-1 (.847) at Husky Stadium vs. Pac-10 opponents.
Pickett's Charge: With two years remaining in his college career, junior quarterback Cody Pickett has already begun his assault on the Husky record books. Last year, Pickett broke four UW records, most significantly the single-game passing yardage mark. In a 31-28 win over Arizona (in which Pickett also ran in the winning touchdown with 13 seconds left), he broke Cary Conklin's 1989 record of 428 passing yards in a game with 455, despite a separated right (throwing) shoulder suffered two weeks earlier vs. USC. Pickett also broke the UW single-season record for passing yards per game (240.3), passing yards by a sophomore (2,403) and 50-plus yard passes in a season (five). Here's a rundown of records set by Pickett in 2001, as well as other top-10 finishes:
Category Total Place Passing Yards Per Game 240.3 1st Passing Yards in a Game 455 1st Passing Yards by a Sophomore 2,403 1st 50-Plus Yard Passes in a Season 5 1st Total Offense per Game 246.3 2nd Total Offense in a Game 473 2nd Passing Yards in a Season 2,403 3rd Passing Yards per Attempts 7.98 4th Total Offense in a Season 2,463 5th Total Offense per Attempt 6.41 8th
Record-Setting Reggie: Last year, UW wide receiver Reggie Williams became the first Husky ever to start the first game of his freshman season, and got his career off to a bang. Not only did he set four UW and Pac-10 records, but he had some of the more notable receiving days in recent UW history. In the first game of his career, the season opener vs. Michigan, he caught four balls for 134 yards. Against Washington State, he posted an 11-catch, 203-yard day, setting Apple Cup records in both categories. He went on to be named co-Freshman of the Year in the Pac-10 and was a Freshman All-American. Here are the four UW and Pac-10 freshman records he set:
Williams' UW and Pac-10 Freshman Records Single-Season Receiving Yards 973 Single-Season Receptions 55 Single-Game Receiving Yards 203 Single-Game Receptions 11
Experienced O-Line: Last year, the primary preseason concern for the Washington football team was inexperience on the offensive line. This year, that would seem to be one of the least of the coaches' concerns. Last year, only senior center Kyle Benn entered the year with any significant game experience. This year, he's the only regular not returning. Four starters -- senior Elliott Zajac, juniors Todd Bachert and Nick Newton and sophomore Khalif Barnes -- all return to the line (Zajac enters the season out of the lineup with a leg fracture, but is likely to return by October). All but Newton started all 12 games last season (Newton started 11). Aside from the four returning starters, the Huskies also have five other offensive linemen returning after having earned their first letter last season: junior Jason Simonson and sophomores Aaron Butler (who started once in Newton's place), Ryan Brooks, Dan Dicks and Andre Reeves. So, in other words, the UW offensive line returns four starters and a startling nine lettermen in 2002.
Same Goes for ILBs: Last year, inside linebackers Ben Mahdavi and Jamaun Willis both started all 12 Husky games. While only Mahdavi, a senior this year, returns, Washington has remarkable depth at the position. Six lettermen, who have a combined 10 varsity letters to their credit, return for the 2002 season. Aside from three-time letterman Mahdavi, there are also juniors Marquis Cooper and Tyler Krambrink (both two-time lettermen; Krambrink also plays OLB) and sophomores Tim Galloway, Matt Lingley and Joseph Lobendahn. While Mahdavi is a shoo-in to return to one starting spot, the battle for the other will be a dogfight. Lobendahn, a special teams stalwart last year during his true-freshman season, and Cooper enter the season opener at Michigan as the co-No. 1 at the spot alongside Mahdavi.
Tight End Tradition: Several years ago, when Sports Illustrated ranked the top college programs all-time by position, Washington's tradition of outstanding tight ends was picked No. 1 at that spot. And for good reason -- the Huskies' last six regular starters (and one backup) at the tight end position have all gone on to NFL success, dating all the way back to Aaron Pierce. Pierce started the majority of the 1990 and '91 seasons before being drafted by the New York Giants in 1992. Since Pierce, Mark Bruener (Pittsburgh, '95), Ernie Conwell (St. Louis, '96), Cam Cleeland (New Orleans, '98), Jeremy Brigham (Oakland, '98), Reggie Davis (San Diego, '99) and Jerramy Stevens (Seattle, '02) all appeared in the NFL. Five of those seven remain in the NFL today, including four (Stevens, Brigham, Conwell and Bruener) with their original team. Of the group, four were selected in the first or second round, and two (Conwell, Bruener) have started in Super Bowls. This year, Washington's expected starter at tight end is senior Kevin Ware, who boasts eight catches in 22 career games entering the season.