A clash between two teams ranked 10th or higher in the Associated Press college football poll hasn’t occurred in Husky Stadium since Sept. 20, 1997, when then-No. 2 Washington, forced to go with freshman QB Marques Tuiasosopo after an injury to starter Brock Huard, fell to No. 7 and Ahman Green-led Nebraska 27-14.
The next pairing of top 10s on the UW geensward is 6 p.m. Friday when No. 7 Stanford (3-0) arrives to face a 10th-rated Washington team (4-0).
This matchup is a rarity, especially for a rivalry that has featured 86 meetings, beginning with a 40-0 Stanford victory during the Grover Cleveland administration in 1893 – 29 years before Washington’s athletic teams adopted the nickname “Huskies.”
Between that game, played in a long-gone park in West Seattle, and 1936, when the Associated Press first published its weekly rankings, the most famous meeting between UW and Stanford was Nov. 7, 1925 when 35,000 fans jammed five-year-old Husky Stadium to witness teams averaging more than 40 points per game.
Anticipation over the first and only duel between Washington’s George “Wildcat” Wilson and Stanford bruiser Ernie Nevers was such that two of the more prominent newspaper honchos of the day, Grantland Rice and Damon Runyan, traveled by train to Seattle to watch it.
They saw Wilson dominate with a touchdown rushing and another passing and a Wilson-led defense that thwarted Nevers three times in the third quarter on the Husky goal line. On the last one, Wilson delivered a crack that knocked Nevers out of the game. Final: Washington 13, Stanford 0. Cardinal coach Pop Warner fumed in newspaper accounts for days after the verdict.
Rice, who gave Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen their nickname, dubbed Ty Cobb the “Georgia Peach” Jack Dempsey the “Manassa Mauler,” subsequently named Wilson to his first All-America backfield, along with Nevers and Red Grange, the “Galloping Ghost” from Illinois (another Rice nickname).
Runyon, who wrote the Broadway play “Guys and Dolls,” also selected Wilson to his All-America team, as did the Associated Press, making Wilson the first All-America pick in UW history.
The 1925 Washington-Stanford battle almost certainly would have involved ranked teams had AP conducted a poll that year. After the AP poll debut in 1936, Washington (12th) and Stanford (18th) did not play each other as ranked teams for 50 years, until 1986.
Since then, the Huskies and Cardinal have met as ranked foes seven times — three in Seattle, four at Stanford Stadium — but in none where both were in the Top 10 as they are Friday.
While Washington holds a 5-2 edge when both are ranked, the Cardinal, a 3½-point underdog Friday even while showcasing Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, have won the past two. These are the seven meetings when the two schools were ranked:
Oct. 11, 1986: No. 12 UW 24, No. 18 Stanford 14
RB Vince Weathersby ran for a career-high 122 yards, QB Chris Chandler threw for 224, WR Lonzell Hill caught nine passes for 137, and the Huskies rallied in the second half to hand Stanford its first defeat after four victories. The outcome was not decided until the Huskies drove 80 yards for a touchdown, a Rick Fenney nine-yard run set up when Tony Zachery snuffed a Cardinal threat by intercepting John Paye in the end zone with 5:36 remaining.
Fenney’s game clincher was his second touchdown of the game. He also scored on a six-yard pass from Chandler.
Paye threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns, but the pick he threw to Zachery was the pivotal play.
The 1986 Huskies rose as high as No. 6 in the AP rankings, but dropped three of their final five, including a 28-6 loss to Alabama in the Sun Bowl, to finish 8-3-1 and 12th nationally by AP.
Oct. 31, 1992: No. 2 UW 41, No. 15 Stanford 7
The Huskies offense busted loose behind QBs Mark Brunell and Billy Joe Hobert for 467 yards against a Stanford defense ranked No. 3 nationally. The UW defense kept Stanford’s all-purpose ace, Glyn Milburn, in check, recorded seven sacks and limited the Cardinal to 252 yards. In addition, Washington LB James Clifford scored a touchdown on a 42-yard interception return.
RB Napoleon Kaufman, who rushed 11 times for 87 yards, also provided a big contribution with a 65-yard punt return that set up Washington’s first touchdown before 70,821 fans in rain-drenched Husky Stadium.
“Washington is better than us in all categories, and it showed today,” said Stanford coach Bill Walsh.
Brunell threw TD passes covering three yards to Leif Johnson and 40 yards to Jason Shelley, and also scored on a one-yard dive. Hobert, playing in the second and fourth quarters, completed two of five passes for 31 yards but scored a TD on a 50-yard option run.
The ’92 Huskies rose to No. 1 in the AP poll after beating Stanford but finished the year No. 9 after losing to Michigan 38-31 in the Rose Bowl.
Sept. 4, 1993: No. 12 UW 31, No. 15 Stanford 14
Having just resigned in protest of Pac-10 sanctions, former UW head coach Don James watched the season opener from the sidelines as the Jim Lambright-led Huskies totaled 500 yards of offense. Sophomore quarterback Damon Huard made his first career start and completed 14 of 23 passes for 174 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.
Huard also puddle-jumped his way to the end zone on fourth down, scoring Washington’s final touchdown on a two-yard run. Kaufman enhanced his Heisman Trophy candidacy by rushing for 195 yards on 24 carries. He averaged 8.1 yards per attempt without breaking any run longer than 26 yards. In the first half alone, he had 118 yards.
The ’93 Huskies went 7-4 and unranked. Neither did they play in a bowl, due to the conference sanctions that sparked James’ resignation.
Oct. 14, 1995: No. 24 UW 38, No. 16 Stanford 28
With temperatures topping 80 degrees at Stanford Stadium, backup RB Rashaan Shehee, making his second career start in place of Leon Neal a week after amassing 171 yards against Notre Dame, ran 30 times for 196 yards and reversed direction twice on his way to an 80-yard touchdown.
The No. 24 Huskies, improving to 4-2, received a career-high 295 yards and one touchdown from Damon Huard, who completed 20 of 30 passes. He connected with every receiver in the two-deep depth charts, both running backs and his tight end.
The 1995 Huskies rose to No. 15 in the AP poll, dropped to No. 22 after losing to Oregon 24-22, and finished No. 20 after losing to Iowa 38-18 in the Sun Bowl.
Nov. 3, 2001: No. 11 UW 42, No. 10 Stanford 28
Willie Hurst rushed for 108 yards and scored on runs of 1, 2 and 15 yards as the Huskies beat Stanford in front of 72,090 at Husky Stadium. With the game deadlocked 28-28 in the fourth quarter, the Huskies went 77 yards in 14 plays and tallied the go-ahead TD on Hurst’s two-yard run.
UW quarterback Cody Pickett threw for 291 yards and one TD. Stanford’s Brian Allen ran for 138 and two TDs, including an 80-yarder in the third quarter.
The Huskies climbed to No. 8 after beating Stanford, but dropped to 16th after losing at Oregon State 49-24. Washington finished No. 21 after dropping a Holiday Bowl shootout to Texas, 47-43.
Oct. 22, 2011: No. 7 Stanford 65, No. 22 UW 21
RB Chris Polk had two long touchdown runs in the first half, but the Huskies’ defense couldn’t contain Stanford’s runaway rushing attack that gained 446 yards. That, plus a key interception returned for a touchdown, sent Washington to a 38-14 halftime deficit from which there was no recovery.
Stanford’s 446 rushing yards — 198 in the first 16 minutes — were the most against the Huskies since Oregon gained 465 Oct. 20, 2007. Cardinal QB Andrew Luck, a favorite for the Heisman Trophy, completed 16 of 21 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
The Huskies never made it back into the national rankings after the blowout . Worse, the 65 points were only the second-highest total yielded by the 2011 team. In the Dec. 23 Alamo Bowl, Baylor beat Washington 67-56.
Oct. 5, 2013: No. 5 Stanford 31, No. 15 UW 28
UW QB Keith Price completed 33 passes for 350 yards and two TDs, RB Bishop Sankey plowed for 125 yards on 27 carries and Washington totaled 489 yards to Stanford’s 284. But the Huskies couldn’t overcome a 99-yard touchdown by Stanford’s Ty Montgomery on the opening kickoff or another 68-yard return by Montgomery in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies had a chance to win at Stanford Stadium when they got the ball with 1:51 remaining. On a desperation fourth-and-10 at midfield, Price scrambled wildly before hitting WR Kevin Smith with a 16-yard completion at the Stanford 33 for an apparent first down with 1:31 remaining.
But a replay review confirmed that the ball slipped from Smith’s diving grasp. The ball went over to the Cardinal, which closed out a perilous triumph that avenged a 17-13 loss in Seattle in 2012.
UW head coach Steve Sarkisian steamed after the game over Stanford’s late-game tactic of faking injuries to slow down Washington’s uptempo offense. At least two Cardinal players went down in theatrical agony and staggered off, only to return in a couple of plays.
“Their defensive-line coach (former UW assistant Randy Hart) was telling them to sit down,” Sarkisian said. “I guess that’s how they play here at Stanford, so we’ll have to prepare for that next time. At some point, we’ll get repaid for it. That never serves a purpose for us, and we’ll never do that.”
The loss launched a three-game UW losing streak that knocked the Huskies out of the polls. Washington ended 2013 with a 31-16 victory over BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Overall, Washington has played 13 games as a Top 10 team against a Top 10 opponent. The results (Washington went 8-4-1):
|1960||Jan. 1||Pasadena, CA||*No. 8 UW 44, No. 6 Wisconsin 8 (Rose)|
|1961||Jan. 2||Pasadena, CA.||*No. 6, UW 17, No. 1 Minnesota 7 (Rose)|
|1962||Sept. 22||Seattle||No. 10 UW 7, No. 7 Purdue 7|
|1982||Nov. 6||Seattle||No. 10 UW 10, No. 9 UCLA 7|
|1982||Nov. 13||Tempe, AZ.||No. 7 UW 17, No. 3 ASU 13|
|1984||Jan. 1||Miami||*No. 4 UW 28, No. 2 Oklahoma 17 (Orange)|
|1986||Nov. 1||Tempe, AZ.||No. 7 ASU 34, No. 6 UW 21|
|1991||Sept. 21||Lincoln, NB||No. 4 UW 36, No. 9 Nebraska 21|
|1991||Oct. 19||Berkeley, CA.||No. 3 UW 24, No. 7 Cal 17|
|1992||Jan. 1||Pasadena, CA||*No. 2 UW 34, No. 4 Michigan 14 (Rose)|
|1994||Jan. 1||Pasadena, CA.||*No. 7 Michigan St. 38, No. 9 UW 31 (Rose)|
|1997||Sept. 20||Seattle||No. 7 Nebraska 27, No. 2 UW 14|
|1998||Sept. 26||Lincoln, NB.||No. 2 Nebraska 55, No. 8 UW 7|
|2016||Sept. 30||Seattle||No. 7 Stanford at No. 10 UW|