Washington Welcomes Another 'Big Team'

Sept. 13, 2008

• Gameday Central

By Jeff Bechthold

As in many recent seasons, much has been made of the Huskies'challenging schedule this season. Various publications, on-line servicesand bloggers have called it the most difficult in the nation.

With the usual rigors of the Pac-10 Conference slate and visits fromtraditionally strong teams like Brigham Young, Oklahoma and Notre Dame,it's no wonder that this season's schedule has been so widely noted.

And while some may question the wisdom of such a schedule, the factis that playing the 'big teams' has become a tradition for the Washingtonfootball program. It's a tradition that has provided many of the greathighlights in Montlake lore.

Of recent vintage, who can forget the Huskies' thrill-packed win overMiami early in the 2000 season? For fans of a certain age, is there anybetter purple-and-gold memory than the nationally televised night game vs.Nebraska in 1992? Has Husky Stadium ever been louder than the secondsafter Tommie Smith sacked the Cornhusker quarterback for a safety?

The modern era of UW football has brought previous visits from BYU andNotre Dame, as well as well-known programs like Ohio State, Michigan,Colorado, Nebraska, Miami and Texas A&M. But, this is the first-ever visit toSeattle by the Sooners.

A brief glance at the history of Sooner football is full of impressivestatistics and history - likely more than the average Husky fan would haverealized.

For starters, Oklahoma can lay claim to seven recognized nationalchampionships since 1950, and in nine other seasons, one or more otherrankings services have crowned the Sooners, though they weren't theconsensus champs.

There are four Heisman Trophy winners who have worn the Sooneruniform: Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978) andJason White (2003).

Oklahoma players have also won five Outland Trophies, three LombardiAwards and every other major honor from the Butkus to the O'Brien to theMaxwell and the Thorpe, for a total of 63 national awards.

So, like so many big non-conference Saturdays at Husky Stadium,today's game has that aura of grandeur that has become so familiar.

What's more is that, as the nation's No. 3-ranked team, the Sooners arethe highest-ranked non-conference team to visit Husky Stadium since aNo. 1 Ohio State team visited in 1969. This year's OU unit is only the fourthnon-conference team ranked in the top five ever to play the Dawgs onMontlake.

Washington and Oklahoma haven't shared much in terms of their history over the years, with some very notable exceptions. First andforemost to most would be their meeting in the 1985 Orange Bowl,with national championship implications on the line for both teams. HadBrigham Young lost its Holiday Bowl game vs. Michigan, the winner ofthe Orange Bowl would most likely have won the championship.

Alas, the Huskies beat the Sooners that night in Miami, but BYUemerged as the consensus national champion, amid considerablecontroversy.

The other notable OU-UW connection is the fact that the Huskieshave long held the NCAA record for the longest unbeaten streak whileOklahoma is well remembered for the longest winning streak in majorcollege history.

The Huskies, under Coach Gilmour Dobie, went unbeaten for astretch of 63 games from 1907 to 1917, winning 59 and tying fourbefore suffering a loss early in the '17 season (after Dobie's departure).It's a record that still stands today, nearly a century later.

Oklahoma, on the other hand, posted an amazing 47 consecutivevictories under Coach Bud Wilkinson until falling to Notre Dame inNovember of 1957. It's a streak that has never really been challenged.

So, the stage is set. Another big-time Saturday at Husky Stadium.Enjoy.

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