Stanford Football Wants to Cap Surprising Season with Win In First Seattle Bowl

Dec 27, 2001

Seattle, WA - The last time Stanford played in Seattle, the Cardinal lostto Washington in a game that all but knocked Stanford out of the Pac-10 race.

It was the 11th consecutive loss in Seattle for No. 11 Stanford (9-2), astring dating back 26 years. But on Thursday, the Cardinal hoped to changetheir fortunes against Georgia Tech (7-5) in the inaugural Seattle Bowl.

As the No. 4 Pac-10 team, the Cardinal hope to get all the Stanford alumniin the Puget Sound area to turn out for the first college football game atSafeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners.

'It means you have to get off the couch and come out,' Stanford coachTyrone Willingham said.

The Cardinal lost to Washington 42-28 on Nov. 11 at Husky Stadium, droppingWillingham's record in Seattle to 0-3. Willingham's team is matched against theAtlantic Coast Conference's No. 4 team.

The last time Stanford won a game in Seattle was 1975, when JackChristiansen was its coach.

The Cardinal players aren't thinking about their loss in Seattle as the onethat got away, though. They're thinking about their 45-39 defeat to WashingtonState at Stanford.

'I tell people that we were one game away from being in the nationalchampionship game,' quarterback Randy Fasani said. 'If we would have beatenWashington State, we would have been in the national championship game. So Ican honestly tell you we're one of the best teams in the country.'

The Seattle Bowl game is expected to be a shootout, which could take theminds of Yellow Jackets fans off their tumultuous coaching situation for atleast a day.

Georgia Tech will announce a new coach after the team gets back to Atlanta.The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Yellow Jackets plan tointroduce former Dallas Cowboys head coach and Miami Dolphins offensivecoordinator Chan Gailey as their coach on Saturday.

Georgia Tech athletic director Dave Braine has denied reports Gailey hasbeen hired.

George O'Leary resigned as Georgia Tech's coach Dec. 9 to take the vacantcoaching job at Notre Dame. But he stepped down five days later afterinaccuracies in his academic and athletic resume were revealed.

'I think this is a great, great matchup,' Georgia Tech interim coach MacMcWhorter said. 'It's a great foundation for the Seattle Bowl.'

The game at Safeco Field matches quarterback George Godsey of Georgia Tech,who has passed for 3,085 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, and Stanford'sduo of Fasani and Chris Lewis, who have combined to pass for 2,756 yards and 25touchdowns.

Godsey holds the school record for career completions percentage at .633(484-for-765).

Stanford, which scored 51 points against Arizona and 59 against Oregon inPac-10 victories this season, is a slight favorite to ruin the first trip bythe Yellow Jackets to the Northwest. This is Tech's first trip to the WestCoast since 1969, when it lost at Southern California.

Tech was supposed to be a contender in the ACC this season, but finished4-4, losing to Clemson and Maryland in overtime and being beaten by Georgia andFlorida State in its last two games.

Georgia Tech's all-ACC tailback, Joe Burns, has been declared academicallyineligible and will miss the game. Burns ran for 1,165 yards and 14 touchdownson 282 carries this season, and he caught 28 passes for 249 yards and onetouchdown.

If the Cardinal beat Georgia Tech and finish with 10 wins, it would be onlythe fourth time that Stanford has completed a season with 10 victories.Stanford did it in 1926, 1940 and 1992, the last time under coach Bill Walsh.

'That would be a great accomplishment,' Willingham said.

A crowd of about 30,000 is expected to see the first and possibly lastfootball game played at Safeco Field. The bowl's co-owners, Fritz Rohlfing andTerry Daw, both of Hawaii, would like to play the game at the Seattle Seahawks'new outdoor stadium next year.

The bowl has a five-year contract with ESPN-TV and the King County Sportsand Events Council for the game, although its contracts with the Pac-10 and ACCare up after this season.

'It's Seattle's event to lose,' said Jim Haugh, the bowl committee'sexecutive director. 'We have to, as a community, step up and show the ownersthat we're ecstatic.'

Rohlfing and Daw moved the game from Hawaii, where it was played as the OahuBowl, to Seattle in January.

'There's going to be a 2002,' Rohlfing said. 'I think based on what we'veseen here this year, we're here to stay. We are happy with how everything hasgone.'

AP Sports Writer

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