Top-Ranked USC Apt Opponent For Huskies Today

Sept. 29, 2007

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by Jeff Bechthold

It's fitting that the day that has been selected to honor theUniversity of Washington's 1960 football team comes on a daywhen the Huskies are playing USC.

After all, aside from a long-forgotten national championship,that era of Husky football is primarily known for bringing about ageographical swing in college football.

The prior year, after the 1959 season, Coach Jim Owens'purple and gold squad went to the Rose Bowl and surprised thefavored Wisconsin Badgers with a 44-8 rout.

After the 1960 season, the Huskies knocked off No. 1-rankedMinnesota, 17-7. One of only two polls that held its vote after thebowl games - the Helms Foundation - ranked the Huskies No. 1in its final ranking.

(Why the Husky administrators of that era didn't more ardentlyclaim that title is a good question. After all, both Minnesota andMississippi have long claimed shares of the title that season.)

Regardless of all that, the Huskies' teams of that era changedthe face of college football. Prior to the UW's win in the 1960Rose Bowl, teams from the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC)and the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) -which became the Pac-10 - had won only one of the previous14 Rose Bowls as the Big Ten powers held sway, not only overthe Granddaddy of Them All, but also over college football as awhole.

After the 1961 Rose Bowl, the power shifted from the Midwestto the West Coast as Pac-8 and Pac-10 teams won 19 of the next26 Rose Bowl.

More recently, USC has represented the Pac-10 and the WestCoast in combating the widely perceived East Coast bias, whichin recent years as it relates to football might be more accuratelycalled the Southeast bias.

The Trojans won national championships in 2003 and 2004.They come to Husky Stadium today ranked No. 1, a position inwhich they've spent considerable time in recent years.

Whatever folks down south or in the east think of Pac-10football, they have to concede that the Trojans have been, bynearly any measure, the most successful program of first fewyears of this century.

Like the Huskies of 1960 (and, one could argue, the UW teamsof the early 1990s), the modern-day Trojans have marked theirera.

What also makes today's match-up an apt one is that USC'sconsiderable success of late has lessened the memories of whatcame before it. In fact, as the Huskies look to continue their reascent to the top levels of college football, they need look nofarther than across the field today for proof that it can be done.

After all, the Trojans entered the current century with a 5-7record in 2000 (the same as the UW's season record last year).They went 6-6 the following year and then jumped to 11-2 theseason after that. In fact, USC has gone 6-5 or worse seven timessince 1990.

So, while purple-and-gold fans throughout Husky Stadiumjoin in saluting and honoring the 1960 Huskies, a team that set theUW standard for toughness and strength, perhaps the currentWashington players can draw some inspiration to follow in thefootsteps the men who have preceded them in successfullyfighting their way back to the top.

After all, that very fight is a big part of what the tradition ofHusky football is all about.

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