Countdown to College Football: Washington

School: University of Washington

Mascot: Huskies

Fight Song: Bow Down To Washington

Head Coach: Chris Petersen (119-26, 27-14 at Washington

Stadium: Husky Stadium (Capacity: 70,083)

Greatest Moment in Program History: 

Unlike some schools, the greatest moment in program history isn't difficult to find.  The year was 1991. Just four years prior, the Huskies had gone 6-5 and missed a bowl game for the first time since Don James second year.  James, recognizing that two tight end power football and their typical models of player evaluation were out of date, made a change.  James and his staff realized that 40 times were deceiving, and that if a player couldn't jump, he couldn't run.  They switched the offensive scheme to the one back spread that was gaining fame on the Palouse.  By 1990, UW had a big play offense and a violent, fast and aggressive defense. Washington began 1991 with blowing away a good Stanford team.  They then traveled to Lincoln Nebraska and ran away from Nebraska in the second half.  This was the last time Nebraska lost at home under Tom Osbourne, who retired seven years later. 

Washington's defense gave up single digits in seven of their 12 games.  The most points allowed in any game was 21. They entered the Rose Bowl undefeated and promptly thumped a strong one loss Michigan team with Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.  Washington's speed off the edges, violent linebackers and excellent corners buried Michigan.  Washington tied for the national title with Miami, a East Coast bias folly if there ever was one.  This was the apex of Washington football under Don James, a violent tornado of purple. 

Current State of the Program: 

The slow decline of Washington football, a tale filled with nepotism, inept athletic directors, bad coaching hires, decrepit facilities and more inept athletic directors is a tragic one.  The program bottomed out in 2008, an embarrassing 0-12 season even though the team had nine future NFL players on the roster.  Steve Sarkisian brought the program back to respectability, but it took Chris Petersen to build the Huskies back to where their fanbase believes they ought to permanently be.  Petersen and his staff coach with an incredible attention to detail.  Watching Washington's defense play is a lesson in fundamentals.  Gaps are contained, tackles are made, coverage is tight. The offense, just as Petersen liked to do in Boise, attacks the throat early, aiming to strike the first blow and leave defenses reeling in a flurry of trick plays, formation shifts and solid execution.  As long as Petersen keeps the current staff together, especially on defense, Washington will be a constant contender for Pac 12 titles.  The offense was out of its element when facing Alabama and USC last year.  The talent on the offensive line needs improving if Washington is to compete for national titles, although that only feels like a matter of time with the way Petersen has been recruiting. 

Prediction:  11-1

at Rutgers - W

vs Montana - W

vs Fresno State - W

at Colorado - W

at Oregon State - W

vs California - W

at Arizona State - W

vs UCLA - W

vs Oregon - W

at Stanford - L

vs Utah - W

vs Washington State - W