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Best Season Ever: The Washington Huskies Go Undefeated

What a season these guys had.

Note:This post is part of a series dedicated to each PAC-12 team’s best season since 1980. Check out Jacy’s posts for CalColoradoArizonaArizona StateWashington State and Oregon State.

The Washington Huskies have steadily improved their record over the years, rising to upper half of the PAC-12 standings in 2011. Though having finished third in the PAC-12 North with a 5-4 conference record, UW is still seeking a return to the glory it experienced during its best football season in 1991.

The 1991 Huskies started off the season with a victory over Stanford, and followed it up with a triumph over Nebraska. Trailing 21-9 in the third quarter, Washington rallied for 27 unanswered points against the Cornhuskers and won 36-21. After consecutive wins over Arizona and Toledo, the Huskies were headed to California to face off against the 7th-ranked Golden Bears.

Over 74,500 fans gathered at the California Memorial Stadium to watch the two undefeated teams battle. The Huskies led 17-10 at halftime, but Lindsey Chapman’s 68-yard run for Cal with one second left in the third quarter tied he game at 17. However, in a near immediate response in the fourth quarter, Beno Bryant ran up the middle, cut to his right, and left the Bears in his dust. Bryant broke off a 65 yard touchdown to break the tie and give UW the lead for good. According to Dick Rockne for The Seattle Times, Bryant called it the “biggest touchdown of his career”. Check out the play below.

Washington went on to win four more consecutive games, one of which was the first victory over USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1980. Washington’s 56-21 victory over Washington State in the 1991 Apple Cup sent the Huskies to the Rose Bowl. That day, the Husky defense, led by Steve Emtman, held Michigan to only 205 yards and racked up 404 yards of offense against the Wolverines. Washington defeated Michigan in a 34-14 victory in the Rose Bowl.

The 1991 Huskies were voted National Champions in the Coaches Poll, but shared the title with the Miami Hurricanes (No. 1 in AP Poll) which also held a 12-0 record. Steve Emtman was the PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year, the Lombardi Award winner, and the Outland Trophy winner. Mario Bailey was the PAC-10 Offensive Player of the Year; both players were consensus All-American Picks. Washington averaged 41 points per game that year, only once scoring below 20 points.

The Washington Huskies were undefeated National Champions just over 20 years ago. To challenge USC and Oregon this season, the Huskies would do well to study some game tape from that 1991 season.