As we try to pass on the doldrums of the spring and summer sport season where all we can do is look forward to the next season of Husky football, one of the most fun things to do is think about some of the best moments of the past and analyze the coming marquee non-conference games. With Boise State coming to open up the remodeled Husky Stadium in a highly-anticipated rematch to start a highly anticipated season, it harkens back to the days when big time winnable, marquee non-conference games were the norm for Husky football, and frequently, the Huskies would win those games.
But what are the most memorable of those games in from the glory days of Husky football? We'll be breaking down the best Husky non-conference wins from the 80s and before, 90s and 2000s and beyond and then finish with the debate about which are the best.
80s and before
September 30, 1950 vs. #18 Minnesota
The eighteenth-ranked Gophers were the first ever ranked non-conference team that the Huskies beat and they took them down fairly easily 28-13 in Husky Stadium. Unfortunately, there isn't much out there about the game, so if anyone remembers, please included any details in the comments. The Gophers ended up having a bad year, but were one of the strongest programs in college football at the time and was a huge early-season win for the Huskies.
October 6, 1956 vs. #13 Illinois
Another big win over a once powerful Big Ten program and the Huskies' only other win over a ranked team prior to the Don James era. The Huskies once again beat their Big Ten opponent 28-13 and even though they started the season with a high ranking, the Illini ended up having a down year so the win lost some luster. Same as the Minnesota game, there is little out there on the net about the game, so if anyone remembers it, please include details in the comments.
September 17, 1983 vs. #8 Michigan
The first in a great history of non-conference wins over Michigan teams. The Huskies trailed the Wolverines for much of the game but scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and scored a touchdown to make it 23-24 with 30 seconds left before converting a two-point conversion on a Steve Pelleur pass that gave them the 25-24 edge in one of the most exciting fourth quarters ever played in Husky Stadium. The Huskies trailed 24-10 early in the fourth, but Pelleur's heroics and accurate passing led them back, particularly on an 80-yard drive that finished with the aforementioned touchdown and two-point conversion. It ended up being a win that held up at the end of the season too as Michigan only lost one other regular season game and ended up playing in the Sugar Bowl.
September 15, 1984 at #3 Michigan
The first big non-conference win in Husky history was a big one in the Big House. A rematch of the previous year's thriller, the Huskies' 20-11 victory ended up being a springboard for one of their biggest seasons ever. The Huskies would have one of their greatest defensive performances ever, as they dominated the Wolverines at home for the vast majority of the game and hold them without a touchdown until the waning moments when Michigan scored. A milestone victory for the program, it proved that the Huskies could go into one of the most intimidating venues in sports and dominate.
September 13, 1986 vs. #10 Ohio State
The Huskies opened against a Top 10 Buckeye team that had just lost a heartbreaker to a Top 5 Alabama team. It would be anything but a nailbitter in Seattle though as the Huskies absolutely thrashed them 40-7. The blowout win would also end up looking very good for the Huskies down the road as the Buckeyes only lost one more very close game the rest of the year to Michigan and ended up winning the Cotton Bowl.
September 20, 1986 vs. #11 BYU
This completed maybe the best back-to-back weeks of Husky football ever, as they pulverized their second-straight Top 15 opponent 52-21. It was also a huge revenge win for the Huskies after losing out on a national championship to the Cougars in 1984 and then getting blown out in Provo in the 1985 opener.
September 9, 1989 vs. #15 Texas A&M
The Huskies opened up the 1989 season with an upset win over Texas A&M in Husky Stadium behind a big game passing from Cary Conklin and a breakout 100-yard-plus game on the ground by Greg Lewis. The Husky defense also had a huge game as they kept the Aggies out of the end zone and won 19-6 in a game that helped start turning around the programs fate after a couple of mediocre years.