No. 12 Football Opens Conference Season vs. Cal

Sept. 30, 2002

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The Game: The Washington football team (3-1) opens Pac-10 play as it continues its five-game homestand this week. California (3-2 overall, 0-1 in the Pac-10) comes to Husky Stadium Saturday, Oct. 5, for a 12:30 p.m. game. The Huskies haven't lost to California since 1976, a stretch of 19 straight UW wins over the Golden Bears. Washington, which improved to No. 12 in both the Associated Press rankings and the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, is nearing the end of a rare five-game homestand. After the Cal game, the UW plays host to Arizona in the fifth and final game of the stretch. Before the Huskies play USC in Los Angeles on Oct. 19, they will have gone 48 days without playing a road game.

Huskies vs. Bears History: Washington and California are the only two teams that have played in what is now the Pacific-10 Conference in every season since the league was founded in 1916. As that would indicate, they've played one another quite often. The Huskies hold a 45-32-4 record in the all-time series, which began in 1904. The Huskies have won the last 19 games in the series, a streak that began with a 50-31 win in 1977. The last Cal win came in 1976. Over the 19-game streak, the Huskies have been ranked at the time of the Cal game 12 times, including playing as the No. 1 team in the country three times vs. the Golden Bears. The Bears have been ranked on three occasions. Cal and UW first met in 1904, battling to a 6-6 tie in a game played in Seattle. In both 1915 and 1916, they played one another twice each year, with Gil Dobie's Washington team sweeping the four games. In 1917, Cal broke the UW's 63-game unbeaten streak (still an NCAA record) with a 27-0 win in Berkeley. Other big games in the series include the 1937 game, when the unranked Huskies held No. 1 Cal to a 0-0 tie in Seattle. In 1991, the Bears probably came as close as anyone to beating Washington that season, as their last-gasp pass into the endzone was batted down in a 24-17 UW win. Washington has also posted four of its nine biggest comebacks in history against California. The biggest ever was in 1988, when the Dawgs trailed 27-3 before rallying to win, 28-27. In 1981, Washington was down 21-0 in the third quarter before coming back for a 27-26 victory. A 20-point comeback in 1993 (24-23) and a 14-point rally in 1999 (31-27) also rank on the list. Last season, the Huskies trailed 21-7 in the first quarter, but came back to earn a 31-28 victory in Berkeley (more on last year and the last three years on page three of this release).

Home Winning Streak: Washington enters Saturday's game with the longest active home winning streak in the Pac-10 Conference at a school-record-tying (modern) 17 games. Nebraska's 24-game home win streak is the nation's longest; Miami's 18-game Orange Bowl streak is second-longest. The last time the Huskies lost a home game was a 28-7 defeat at the hands of Arizona State Oct. 16, 1999. The Dawgs won their remaining two home games that year, and won all six games at Husky Stadium in each of the last two years. This year, the Husky schedule includes seven home games, including five in a row in the early part of the season. The streak ties the modern Husky record for consecutive home wins, previously set between 1991 and 1993, so if the Huskies can beat California on Saturday, they'll set a new modern school record. Last year, Oregon ran its home win streak to 23 games before losing to Stanford at Autzen Stadium. The Pac-10 record for home win streak is 26 (California, 1919-23). The Huskies' all-time record is 44 straight home wins, set from 1908 to 1917 (mostly prior to the founding of the conference), in the midst of the UW's 63-game overall unbeaten streak, still an NCAA record. The 44-game home win streak was broken by a 0-0 tie with Oregon State in 1917, but the UW went on to win six more home games after that, extending their home unbeaten streak to 51 games. The 44-game home winning streak is still the sixth-longest in NCAA history.

Television: The Washington-Calififornia game will not air on live television. However, it will air on tape delay on Fox Sports in the Northwest with David Locke and former Husky QB Sonny Sixkiller providing the call. The replay will air Sunday at 3:00 p.m. (new time). A new show, 'The Washington Football Experience' will air each Thursday evening during the season on Fox Sports. The new program is an up-close look at each Husky game, with one-on-one player interviews and sideline photography.

Radio: The Husky Sports Network, with its flagship station KJR 950-AM, will carry the live broadcast of every football game to five different states on 20 different radio stations. Longtime broadcast team Bob Rondeau (play-by-play), Chuck Nelson (color) and Bill Swartz (sidelines) provide the call.

Continuity of Coaching: Going back to 1957, Washington has had only four head football coaches: Jim Owens (1957-75), Don James (1976-92), Jim Lambright (1993-99) and Rick Neuheisel (1999-present). In that time, the nine other Pac-10 schools have had an average of about eight coaches each, a total of 74 (counting some of them -- Bill Walsh, John Robinson, etc. -- more than once). Oregon has had the next fewest with only six head coaches over that span. Arizona State, California, Oregon State, UCLA, USC and Washington State have had eight each. Arizona's had nine head coaches since '57 and Stanford has had 11.

Recent Comebacks vs. Cal: Washington has had to make a comeback to beat Cal in each of the last three seasons. Last year, the Dawgs trailed 21-7 in the second quarter, but scored two touchdowns in the fourth to win the game, 31-28. The Bears had a chance for a final drive to tie or win the game, but couldn't convert on a late fourth down. In 2000, Washington was behind 24-13 at the end of three quarters, but Anthony Kelley's fumble-causing sack of Kyle Boller set up a field goal. On the ensuing possession, Omare Lowe picked off Boller to set up a Marques Tuiasosopo-to-Jerramy Stevens TD pass. On the next play from scrimmage, Larry Tripplett stripped Joe Igber. Rich Alexis ran in the ensuing play from 16 yards out and the Huskies had pulled ahead 29-24 on its way to a 36-24 win. Finally, in 1999 at Berkeley, Maurice Shaw scored on a two-yard run with 50 seconds left to cap a 31-27 win after Cal had led by as many as 14 points. Todd Elstrom's 83-yard TD reception in the third quarter drew the Huskies to a 24-17 deficit and Shaw scored on a nine-yard run early in the fourth to tie the score. But a Mark Jensen field goal put Cal ahead with 6:50 left. Shaw's winning score capped a two-minute, three-second drive.

vs. Bay Area Schools: Washington has a combined record of 93-65-8 (.572) vs. opponents from the San Francisco Bay Area. Washington is 45-32-4 against California, 38-32-4 vs. Stanford, 8-0 vs. San Jose State, 1-1 vs. St. Mary's and 1-0 vs. Santa Clara. The Huskies haven't played Santa Clara since 1935 and haven't faced St. Mary's since 1947. Since 1977, Washington is 45-2-0 (.957) vs. Bay Area teams: 19-0 vs. Cal, 19-2 vs. Stanford and 7-0 vs. San Jose State.

Washington-California Ties: For a pair of Pac-10 teams, there are surprisingly few connections between the UW coaches and players and the Cal team. However, Husky offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson served as the Bears' head coach from 1992 to 1995, and remains the last coach to guide Cal to a bowl game ('93 Alamo Bowl). Cal secondary coach J.D. Williams is an older brother of late Husky safety Curtis Williams. Bears offensive line coach Jim Michalczik is married to former UW volleyball standout Jennifer Stretfeild. There are no players from the state of Washington on the Bears' roster. Washington's roster includes only four players from the Bay Area: Jafar Williams (Oakland/St. Mary's), Domynic Shaw (Oakland/Skyline), Rob Meadow (San Francisco/De La Salle) and Matt Fountaine (Oakland/Bishop O'Dowd). Additionally, Manase Hopoi is from Sacramento. Meadow played at De La Salle along with Cal sophomore Tosh Lupoi. Fountaine was a teammate of Cal's Michael Gray and Burl Toler at O'Dowd. Shaw played on the same team (Skyline High) as Cal's Harrison Smith while Husky guard Elliott Zajac was a high school teammate of Bears linebacker Calvin Hosey at Bakersfield High School in southern California. UW senior linebacker Anthony Kelley and Cal senior LaShaun Ward were classmates at Muir High in Pasadena, Calif. Finally, UW's William Kava and Cal tailback Joe Igber both attended Iolani School in Hawai'i.

Idaho Redux: Washington's 2002 aerial assault, piloted by junior quarterback Cody Pickett, contined its flight in a 41-27 win over Idaho in the season's final non-conference game. The Huskies tied a modern school record with their 17th consecutive home victory while Pickett added to several of his records, completing 32-of-44 passes for 438 yards, no interceptions and three touchdowns. In doing so, Pickett became the first Husky ever to pass for 400 yards in two straight games and extended his consecutive 300-yard games. His 74-yard, highlight-reel TD pass to Charles Frederick extended his career record for 70-yard passes to five. The Huskies took command in the first half, vaulting to a 28-3 lead at the intermission. After fumbling the ball inside the Vandals' 20, the Huskies returned the favor on the second play of the ensuing Idaho drive as safety Greg Carothers returned a fumble 25 yards for a score. Early in the second quarter, a three-yard pass from Pickett to Kevin Ware capped a 13-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Frederick, whose cutback-filled run after catching short pass was the game's highlight, scored from 74 yards out to make it 21-0. Ware caught his second TD of the day on a nine-yard pass to cap the Huskies' first-half scoring. The Vandals avoided the half-time shutout when Keith Stamps connected on a 49-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. Idaho came out in the third quarter and scored on a 16-yard pass from Brian Lindgren to Chris Belser. John Anderson made a 20-yard field goal for the Huskies and Stamps hit from 32 yards out before a two-yard TD run from Rich Alexis made the Huskies' lead 38-13 and essentially put the game away. Idaho scored two more TDs in the fourth quarter and Anderson hit a second field goal to close out the scoring.

Tough After Turnovers: While the fact that Washington has committed 10 turnovers through four games this year (eight lost fumbles, two interceptions) is perhaps the most disconserting statistic of the early part of the season, the UW defense has played very well after those turnovers. Husky opponents have managed to turn 10 turnovers into only two scores -- touchdowns by Michigan and by Wyoming, good for 14 points. By contrast, the Huskies have converted seven of their eight takeaways this season into points -- four touchdowns and three field goals, a total of 37 points.

Playing at Home: The Huskies finished the home slate with a spotless 6-0 record in 2001, marking the 13th time ever and the sixth time in the last 10 seasons that the Dawgs have played perfect at home (1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2000). Washington has won 65 of its last 77 (.851) games at Husky Stadium with one tie (65-11-1). Since 1980, the Huskies stand 113-23-2 (.826) at home. Since 1990, the Huskies are 41-7-1 (.847) at Husky Stadium vs. Pac-10 opponents.

Pickett Catches Moon, Brunell: Junior quarterback Cody Pickett has already broken onto Washington's top-10 all-time career passing yards list, and will crack several other UW passing career top-10s at some point this season. With 438 yards passing against Idaho -- the second-most in school history -- Pickett pushed his career total to 3,922, having passed Warren Moon (3,277) and Mark Brunell (3,423) after the Wyoming game for ninth all-time at Washington. Pickett, who is averaging 376.8 passing yards per game in 2002, needs 240 yards to pass Chris Chandler (4,161) for eighth. Pickett, who set a UW single-game record with 34 completions vs. Wyoming, now has 286 career completions, putting him ninth on that list. Also, he needs just 20 attempts to make the top-10 that category. His career mark of 13.7 yards per completion ranks No. 5 and his 230.7 yards per game (17 games) would already rank No. 1 in school history, except that there's an 18-game minimum. Same goes for his 16.8 completions per game, another career No. 1 if he met the 18-game minimum. He already qualifies for career completion percentage as his .601 mark ranks No. 2 on the UW list. Pickett boasts a slew of firsts: he is the first UW QB to post more than one career 400-yard game (he has three); the first to post six 300-yard games; and the first to throw for 300 yards in more than two consecutive games (he has four). In just 17 career games Pickett already boasts five of Washington's top-11 single-game totals in passing yards. His 10 career 200-yard passing days already rank him No. 8 in UW history and his eight 50-plus-yard passes rank second, one back of Damon Huard's record of nine.

Pickett Among Nation's Elite: With his outstanding start to the 2002 season, junior quarterback Cody Pickett has placed himself among the nation's top signalcallers. Pickett, with his superlative 160.7 passing efficiency rating, ranks No. 5 in the nation in that category, ahead of such big names as Iowa State's Seneca Wallace (7th), Washington State's Jason Gesser (10th), Marshall's Byron Leftwich (13th), Miami's Ken Dorsey (20th), Florida State's Chris Rix (30th) and Florida's Rex Grossman (45th). His 368.0 yards per game of total offense ranks No. 2 in the nation (behind Leftwich at 408.7) and his 29.0 pass completions per game also ranks No. 2, trailing only Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury (30.2). As a team, the Huskies rank No. 2 in passing offense and No. 2 in total offense in Division I-A.

The A-Train: After a sensational freshman year in which he broke the school's freshman rushing record (726 yards) and posted four 100-yard games, junior Rich Alexis suffered through an admittedly rough season in 2001, gaining only 391 yards on the ground. In 2002, he seems to have returned to the form that earned him freshman All-America honors in 2000. Through four games, Alexis has already gained 381 yards on 94 carries, a 4.1-yard average. He's also scored five touchdowns and has carried the load, accounting for 94 of 126 total carries by Husky backs. In the season opener at Michigan, he fell only two yards short of the century mark, finishing with 98 yards. After posting 125 yards in the San Jose State game, he came back with 94 against Wyoming two weeks. He also shattered his old career receiving highs vs. the Cowboys with a team-high seven catches for 55 yards (old highs: 3 catches for 31 yards). Against Idaho, he rushed for 64 yards on 19 carried and caught six passes for another career high of 87 yards. Alexis, third in the Pac-10 in rushing (95.2 per game), leads the conference in all-purpose yards with 140.5 per game.

Ware Latest In Tight End Tradition: Several years ago, when Sports Illustrated ranked the top college programs all-time by position, Washington's tradition of outstanding tight ends was picked No. 1 at that spot. And for good reason -- the Huskies' last six regular starters (and one backup) at the tight end position have all gone on to NFL success, dating all the way back to Aaron Pierce. Pierce started the majority of the 1990 and '91 seasons before being drafted by the New York Giants in 1992. Since Pierce, Mark Bruener (Pittsburgh, '95), Ernie Conwell (St. Louis, '96), Cam Cleeland (New Orleans, '98), Jeremy Brigham (Oakland, '98), Reggie Davis (San Diego, '99) and Jerramy Stevens (Seattle, '02) all appeared in the NFL. Five of those seven remain in the NFL today, including four (Stevens, Brigham, Conwell and Bruener) with their original team. Of the group, four were selected in the first or second round, and two (Conwell, Bruener) have started in Super Bowls. This year, senior Kevin Ware will try and keep the streak alive. After notching only eight catches in his first three years total, Ware is off to an impressive start. He's currently tied for second on the team with 17 receptions (for 173 yards) and his three receiving touchdowns top the team. His 4.3 receptions per game are second among all tight ends in Division I-A.

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