After a defensive struggle — maybe more aptly, an offensive struggle — the No. 9 Washington football team was able to barely defeat No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif., 10-3.
And in case you didn’t watch, or thought you were dreaming — yes that was the actual score of the game. The lone touchdown of the game was scored on a pick-six by Byron Murphy. The only other conference championship game in NCAA history without an offensive touchdown was the ACC’s in 2006, when Wake Forest beat Georgia Tech, 9-6. Even that game had more combined points.
“We said at the beginning of the week, we said that the best defense was going to win this football game,” defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. “That’s what we preached to the defense all week long.”
It wasn’t pretty, but the Huskies are Pac-12 Champions and are headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time in well over a decade.
Speaking of Rose Bowls, does this team remind you of anyone in particular? It might be blasphemous of me to compare the 2018 Huskies to the 1991 team, but the comparisons on how the teams are built and function are astoundingly similar.
In 1991, Washington was heading to the Rose Bowl after an undefeated season, where they averaged the second most points in country at 41.2, and gave up the second fewest at 9.6. Led by Steve Emtman up front, and Walter Bailey in the defensive backfield, the Huskies had one of the best defenses in the country, and had a strong offense as well.
The Huskies had three tailbacks go over 300 yards for the season, including Beno Bryant, Jay Barry, and Napoleon Kaufman.
This year’s Huskies have one of the best defenses in college football, led by a dominant secondary who has helped hold opposing teams to just 15.5 points per game. In today’s heavy passing game, and high-scoring offenses, that is especially incredible.
While the offense isn’t nearly up to par with what the 1991 team did, they are eerily similar in terms of production. Led by Myles Gaskin, the Huskies top-four rushers have a combined 2,184 yards on the ground. In 1991, Washington’s top four rushers combined for 2,190 rushing yards.
Their games were even similar, as in 1991 against No. 7 California, the Huskies moved the ball inside the Bears’ 15-yard line four different times, but that only resulted in three points. The Huskies would end up winning the game 24-17, in what was their closest contest of the season. The rest was history.
I’m not saying they are the same team. Far from it. That 1991 Washington football team might have been one of the best college football teams of all time, and certainly one of the most dominant.
Head coach Chris Petersen has quickly built up the Washington football team into contenders, and champions again, and he has done it through defense, and a strong run-game, just like coach Don James in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The 1991 team was heading into the Rose Bowl looking for a chance at the National Title, while these Huskies will head to Pasadena just looking to end their season with a win at the historic venue.
En route to victory, the 1991 Huskies dominated the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines 34-14. The 2018 Washington team will play No. 6 Ohio State in what could have the makings of a classic Rose Bowl matchup come Jan. 1.
Reach Assistant Sports Editor Alec Dietz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AlecDietz
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