Top 5 Home Games of 100 Years at Husky Stadium
We are weeks away for what will be the 100th year of Husky Football at Husky Stadium. (Technically this is the 101st season but you cannot count last season, as there were no fans). Also, the huskies played 2012 at Seahawks stadium. But I digress.
Before Husky Stadium became known as “The Greatest Setting” it was routinely a house of horrors for opponents and one of the absolute loudest stadiums in college football. Passionate fans and the structure of the stadium (massive roofs that trap crowd noise which would reverberate onto the field) made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.
The wave was invented and popularized at Husky Stadium, which also achieved the record for loudest college football stadium.
This is a region of the country that has always appreciated toughness and grit, and as a result, defense.
The rise of the Washington program to national prominence under Don James was built on those factors, and consistent, tough defenses that inspired the crowd.
I consulted with the Bow Down to Washington crew, Husky Twitter and long-time beat writer and author Dan Raley to formulate a list of games and then rank them.
Before we get to the list, here are some of the games that did not make the top 5.
Had Washington won this game it would have been in the national championship hunt. Instead, it spearheaded Nebraska’s run to its 3rd National Title in four years.
Although a loss, the crowd was outstanding, and according to sideline reporter Lynn Swann (see 9 minutes in), the decibel level reached 119 as the team ran out of the tunnel.
Washington’s slow climb out of the basement and back to the top of the Pac began with this game, a 16-13 upset over USC.
Quarterback Jake Locker rescued the program and authored many clutch wins but none more significant than this one.
Ohio State 1986
This was the season opener. A top 20 matchup.
Washington raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead, and destroyed Ohio State 40-7.
Ohio State finished 10-3 and #7 in the AP poll.
Washington finished the season 8-3-1 and #7 in SRS. This is one of the best Washington teams few are aware of.
Boise State 2013
This was the re-opening of Husky Stadium and the first game in the renovated stadium.
The crowd was primed and Washington delivered a dominating performance.
2003 Apple Cup
This was an ugly game, but it had the second largest crowd of over 74,500.
Oregon State 2000
This was a night game and an electric atmosphere in September. The game went down to the wire.
It proved to be a huge win for Washington, who would become Rose Bowl Champions. Both teams finished the season in the top 5!
With that out of the way, let’s start the countdown. Here’s #5….
5. Michigan 2001
Washington was defending Rose Bowl and Pac-10 Champions and Michigan was a big-name, blue blood opponent. The stadium was packed. It was a beautiful September day.
Washington came from behind in dramatic fashion in the fourth quarter. It scored two touchdowns in three plays: a blocked FG attempt returned for a touchdown and then a pick six. After which, you can hear the color announcer Tim Brant say “I hope this press box is stable because it’s rockin.”
Apparently, this was the 4th largest crowd ever at Husky Stadium, at over 74,000 people.
This game was also the debut of true freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams, who is arguably the greatest receiver in Washington history. He had 4 catches for 134 yards this game.
Click below to see on YouTube.
4. Stanford 2016
The millennial generation’s “All I Saw Was Purple” game.
It was a matchup of two top 10 teams. Probably the first at Husky Stadium since that 1997 tilt with Nebraska. It was the 7th largest crowd at Husky Stadium, at over 72,000 people.
It was nationally televised on ESPN. It was on a Friday night, so it was the only game to watch.
The world of College Football was reminded of the atmosphere at Husky Stadium. Young college football fans with no knowledge of Husky history and the Washington program, learned about it too.
There were many similarities between this game and the 1990 tilt with USC.
Both Washington teams came into the season with hype and these were, by far, the most important games of the season.
The teams were incredibly focused. The crowds were incredible. The performance was one of the best in husky history. The stadium was on fire.
In 1990, Washington was up 24-0 at halftime. In 2016, 23-0 at the half.
The victory over USC spearheaded a run to near back to back national championships, three conference titles and three Rose Bowls.
The victory over Stanford propelled Washington to the college football playoff and being just 50 minutes from the National Championship game (and a hair from #2 in SRS). It was Washington’s best team in 25 years and as it stands today, the best team in the Pac-12 over the last seven seasons. Washington won two Pac-12 titles in three years and reached three consecutive NY6 Bowl games.
3. Miami 2000
This was one of the absolute greatest performances in husky history and I have to double check my data but Miami 2000 (according to SRS) is the best team Washington ever defeated.
4th-ranked Miami, who was a near double-digit favorite over #15 Washington, was caught off guard by the crowd noise and physicality of Washington. The Dawgs jumped out to a 21-3 lead before intermission. While Miami charged back in the second half, Washington made just enough plays on offense and defense to secure a 34-29 victory.
Without one of the greatest crowds in husky history, there’s no way Washington could have defeated that Miami team. It was the third largest crowd ever at 74,157.
Miami, who narrowly missed out on playing in the BCS National Championship Game, was the clear best team in the country for the 2000 season. They would have won a 4-team playoff.
The 2000 Miami team, while not the 2001 team (arguably the greatest collection of talent in college football history), was absolutely loaded and darn close to the 2001 team.
It included the likes of Ed Reed, Reggie Wayne, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinnie and Andre Johnson.
After this loss, Miami would go on to win 34 consecutive games (spanning 3 seasons) and if not for a questionable penalty, back to back national championships.
This is an excellent article from FoxSports that analyzes how Miami’s loss to Washington in 2000 kickstarted their dominant 34-game win streak. The Miami players are quoted and several of them comment on the Washington crowd.
Moss: You look at the conditions that day, it was cloudy, it was cool. And the stadium was loud. Even back then Seattle had a 12th man.
Joaquin Gonzalez (junior, offensive tackle): The loudest place that I’ve ever played at. That includes my NFL career. That is the one thing that resonates in my mind.
I conducted a Twitter poll as to the greatest game ever at Husky Stadium and the nearly 300 respondents picked this game as #1.
Here is a video from Jon Horton:
You can watch the full game here:
2. Nebraska 1992
Another top 10 matchup. Washington were the defending National Champions. The first night game in years. A nationally televised audience on ESPN (when west coast games were rare).
The lead up to this game was insane and the stakes were huge. It was the talk of the town at school and all over the city of Seattle. I cannot think of a game that had more hype.
At the time, it was the largest crowd in husky history. (Currently, it was the fifth largest crowd ever).
Husky Stadium delivered.
It achieved the record for loudest stadium, which it still holds to this day. Behold this screenshot.
I believe that decibel reading was hit after Tommie Smith sacked Nebraska quarterback Mike Grant in the end zone for a safety.
Here is Washington’s coverage of the game in their “Greatest Moments at Husky Stadium” series.
Here is the broadcast.
The announcers were talking about the crowd noise before, during and after the game.
- USC 1990
“All I saw was purple.”
Every Husky knows what that means. That was the post-game quote from USC quarterback Todd Marinovich.
5th-ranked USC had a 20-game conference win streak, and as history suggested, the winner of the game would go to the Rose Bowl.
Much like 2016, there were huge expectations for Washington, who underwhelmed to start the season.
The night before the game, Washington held a celebration of 100 years of Husky Football.
Little did we know, this game would spring one of the most dominant runs in conference history, that included one of the absolute greatest teams in college football history, the 1991 Washington Huskies.
Washington raced out to a 24-0 halftime lead and won 31-0.
The game was noteworthy for the mid 90s temperatures, a particularly dominating performance on defense and ridiculous intensity from the crowd.
ESPN 710 Mariners reporter Shannon Drayer, recounts her experience in the Husky Band:
I was there that day. As a member of the Husky Marching Band, I had a 50-yard-line view for most of the game, and an on-the-field end-zone view for the final 5 minutes of the first half. It was spectacular. If you want to have a good taste of what the Husky Stadium experience was like before the students were moved to the end zone, before the big screens, canned music and sound effects pumped in via sound system and before the distractions of end zone social areas take fans out of the seats, watch the final 2:00 of the first
Marinovich and the Trojan offense finally had fairly decent field position but the crowd kicked in, a 12th man like no other. The final 2 minutes took over 10 as USC could not hear the calls. Marinovich was able to get the ref to stop the plays a couple of times but also took a couple of delay of games and a sack. They kept getting closer and closer to the end zone to the point where USC running back Ricky Ervins, by his reaction, could hear what the drum majors were yelling at him. It was absolutely crazy and when all was said and done we had seen a third-and-39 and a minus-7 rushing performance on the board at the half. Marinovich had completed all of three passes and was intercepted two times.