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The 1991 Huskies

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I have mad respect for Bill Connelly for creating a series of articles worthy a book and publishing it for free. The Top 100 College Football Teams of the Last 100 Years is quite a feat, both in terms of scope and detail.

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Finishing 26th overall is the 1991 University of Washington Huskies. The Huskies inclusion on the list is explained by Connelly in part:

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Ranked fourth to start the season, Washington played in the shadow of Miami and Florida State all fall. But their results were staggering. They took out a good Stanford team (42-7) on the road, then they manhandled No. 9 Nebraska (36-21) in Lincoln. They beat Kansas State, Arizona and Toledo by a combined 158-3. Still ranked just third thanks to Miami’s and Florida State’s dominance, the Huskies faced down their toughest challenge on Oct. 19, surviving against No. 8 California, 24-17, in Berkeley. Beno Bryant took a handoff 65 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

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Click the above link for the full explanation as well as the other 99 and Connelly’s methodology for determining the order.

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This was the first Huskies team I ever loved. I was nine. Purple and Gold blew my mind. They never lost. In fact, they rolled. It was the first team I followed that was a juggernaut. That didn’t lose, as most teams I rooted for did; that didn’t sometimes show up big, as the 91-92 Sonics sometimes could; that, week-in-week-out, dominated their competition.

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As a nascent Seattle sports fan still in the “minor leagues” (the level of baseball above tee ball and below the “major leagues”), this was my big introduction to football. I hadn’t played Pop Warner yet or even known a local Pop Warner league was available, but I soon did.

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I think football is one of the few sports in which a rout can be as entertaining as a hard fought victory. One big win doesn’t mean much in baseball, basketball, hockey or soccer, but in football, a blowout is one of the surest signs of a great team.

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The 1991 Huskies were also my introduction to sports-related outrage. I wanted Washington to take on Miami for the National Title. I knew Washington would wipe the floor with the Hurricanes. But instead the arcane Bowl process matched UW and Miami against also-rans. Miami shut out the over-hyped Cornhuskers and Washington boat raced the otherwise solid Wolverines and both teams ended the season undefeated. The National Title was determined by voters. What a stupid process, I thought. What an unsatisfactory end to the season.

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As I remember it, the AP Poll was released first: Miami on top. ARGH, I thought. And I cussed and kicked my little legs. I was a filthy-mouthed little tow-headed child. Then the Coaches Poll was released with Washington on top. I remember that was cold comfort. It was like winning the championship without winning it all. I felt like consolation rather than victory.

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Almost twenty years past, I can appreciate just how special that team was and how integral that season was to everything I now am as a sports fan.