Husky Stadium, the home of UW football, celebrates its 100th year of existence and has been witness to some of the greatest moments in program history.
2020 marks the 100th season Husky Stadium has been home to the UW football team. The stadium has become known as the “greatest setting in college football,” thanks to the picturesque setting of Lake Washington where fans can participate in the unique tradition of “sailgating.”
The stadium has also been home to some of the most memorable moments in the program’s rich history, some of which I was lucky enough to witness in person. It was hard to narrow this list down but here are what I consider to be the greatest moments in the history of the now 100-year-old stadium.
1990 vs USC — “All I saw was purple”
The early 1990s was home to the greatest stretch of UW football program history, which included three straight Rose Bowl appearances as well as the 1991 national championship team. These were some of the most dominant teams in not only UW history, but all of college football and no game sums up the era better than this one.
Nationally ranked USC entered the game as five point favorites and was victorious in their last four meetings with UW. The Trojans were led by Todd Marinovich who was nicknamed the “robo-qb” and had massive expectations coming into the season. The Huskies were clearly unphased by the hype of the QB and the rest of the Trojans as they dismantled the visitors 31-0 in front of 72,000 plus witnesses in Husky Stadium.
Following the game, Marinovich famously stated, “I just saw purple. That’s all I saw. No numbers, no faces, just purple.” This gave the game a nickname that would go down in Husky history forever and is considered by most to be the game that propelled the program to three straight conference championships.
“That game was definitely a catapult,” said Husky running back and Doak Walker award winner Greg Lewis. “It gave us supreme confidence that we could play with anybody. To dominate USC the way we did, let us know that we were the team to beat and that maybe we could even win the National Championship.”
2009 vs USC
The first decade of the new century was not too kind to the Huskies. After a trip to the Rose Bowl in 2001, they managed to only go to one bowl game after that and had a streak of six game losing seasons. The program hit rock bottom in 2008 when the team failed to get a single win which led to the hiring of head coach Steve Sarkesian from USC.
Sarkesian brought energy and swagger to a program that was desperate for any sort of positive momentum. The Huskies were able to pick up their first win in two years in the week prior and had momentum coming into their game with Pete Carroll and top ranked USC.
Quarterback Jake Locker would then lead the team to an upset win where Erik Folk kicked a game winning field goal with three seconds left. This was truly a program changing win. In the following season, the Huskies would begin a new streak of ten straight winning seasons that is still alive to this day.
“We had nothing to lose, we just went in and said ‘just do your job’,” said Cody Habben, who was the starting right tackle at the time. “No one in a million years would have picked us to win that game, and we knew that.”
2016 vs Stanford
With Steve Sarkesian’s era officially in the past, this was Chris Petersen’s team now. In his first two seasons, the Huskies went to two lower tier bowl games but, coming into the 2016 season, were a popular pick for a national title contender with loads of young talent that developed over the past few seasons.
Their first real test came in week five versus the seventh ranked Stanford Cardinals. This was the perfect opportunity for the Huskies to prove that they were legit contenders and can hang with anyone in front of a sold out crowd at Husky Stadium. What followed was a completely dominant performance by the Dawgs with a final score of 44-6.
The nation was introduced to sophomore quarterback Jake Browning, who would go on to break every major UW passing record. We were also witness to a new and impressive UW defense led by now head coach Jimmy Lake. This would propel UW to a 12-2 finish including a conference championship, as well as a trip to the college football playoff.
“That truly was the greatest setting in college football,” UW coach Chris Petersen said following the game. “That was fun for our guys, our coaches, and I hope our fans enjoyed that, too, because that was special.”
Even though the list could have gone on forever, these are just a few of the great moments that have occurred in Husky Stadium. Hopefully Husky fans will once again be allowed to attend in 2021 to witness even more of these experiences.