For all of you that have been following our weekend coverage of true freshmen quarterbacks (first the rumor and then our analysis), you have earned your badge of honor. Your endurance is a spectacle to behold.
Now, we turn you back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Many of you know the story with Broncos. BSU was admitted into the NCAA in 1970 where they started out as a Big Sky Conference member. Since that time, they've had success at every level they've played including a successful transition from I-AA to I-A under Houston Nutt in 1997. However, the Huskies and the Broncos had never met up until 2007 when the Huskies under Ty Willingham beat Chris Petersen's Broncos at Husky Stadium. Since that time, the Huskies have played BSU two more times - back to back games that included a Las Vegas Bowl loss in 2012 and a blowout victory in the opening of the remodeled Husky Stadium.
This Friday's game is the conclusion of that home and home series that started with the opening of Husky stadium. While the Broncos are a worthy opponent and one that has earned the right to be a heavy favorite against UW, many fans are concerned with the difficulties that Scott Woodward has had in booking other Power 5 conference schools to annual match ups. There are, of course, a lot of reasons that those kinds of games are difficult to schedule. I'm sure that those reasons will be discussed thoroughly in the comments below.
The purpose of this article is to brainstorm a little bit on the teams that we would like to see UW schedule to a home and home series. For the purposes of this exercise, the teams included in the review should be Power 5 conference schools and programs that UW does not have currently anywhere on the future schedule (which would exclude Michigan, Rutgers and BYU).
Option 1 - Nebraska
UW and Nebraska have a pretty good history together that has seen the two programs play a total of 10 times since 1925. UW's all-time record versus the Cornhuskers is 4-5-1 including a 19-7 win on a neutral field in the 2010 Holiday Bowl. What is interesting about the rivalry is that outside of that Holiday Bowl victory, the Huskies have lost the previous four matchups to Nebraska by an average score of 47-20. In fact, if you asked Cornhusker fans, they wouldn't even count the Holiday Bowl given their argument that the 'Huskers "didn't wan't to be there" and playing the Huskies for a second time in the same season.
Needless to say, there is still a little bit of lingering frustration with those Cornhuskers.
The fact that the Huskies played Nebraska during the championship season of '91 and again, in an epic night game, in '92 has, in my mind, locked Nebraska in the lore of UW football. The fact that a former PAC 12 coach in Mike Riley now coaches there gives us a valid avenue to explore a match up. The fact that Nebraska fans are among some of the most friendly and hospitable in the nation gives me a reason to want to road trip to Lincoln. There would be a lot to like about UW setting up a series with Nebraska.
Option 2 - Missouri
This is all about breaking into the hegemony of the SEC and pitting a perennial mid-tier PAC 12 program against a program of similar ilk in the SEC. As many of you know, the Tigers are coached by a Husky alum in Gary Pinkel. Pinkel has connections to the Don James regime having coached under the Dawg Father for 11 years including six as the offensive coordinator for the Huskies.
A matchup between Missouri and UW, which would be the first time the two programs would ever have met, would serve a couple of purposes that I think are interesting for college football. First, it creates a contest between teams representing the two conferences that are, by and large, considered the best among the Power 5. Because the SEC and PAC 12 have no natural bowl game tie-ins, the opportunities for the two conferences to test the mettle of the other are few and far between.
The second interesting aspect of this matchup would be that it would create a natural opportunity for UW to celebrate the life of Don James. One could imagine the kinds of stories that would be passed along in game week interviews not to mention the potential for an in-game activity involving Pinkel and his family joining with representatives of the James family when the series takes its turn in Seattle. It could be a really awesome experience for all.
Option 3 - Notre Dame
The Huskies and the Fighting Irish have met eight times - four times each in South Bend and Seattle - with UW never having posted a victory. Given the fact that a few of those match ups occurred when UW was in pretty decent shape, that kind of record is shocking and one worthy of some rectification.
But the 0-8 record isn't the only consideration here. Among those eight losses are two games that need to be specifically addressed. The first was the 38-3 shellacking that the Huskies took at the hands of the Irish in 2004. That game featured future NFL draft picks Brady Quinn and Julius Jones and was coached by none other than Tyrone Willingham. Of course, that was Ty's last season with the Irish before he would take over as the coach of the Huskies then go on to get his butt whipped by those same Irish players in 2005. So was born the "Willingham Curse" when it came to UW and Notre Dame.
The curse continued in both the 2008 (Willingham) and 2009 (Sarkisian) matchups with Notre Dame. The latter was particularly frustrating given the fact that that game was lost in an overtime that should have never happened. PAC 12 officials made two controversial calls in back-to-back plays on the goal line as UW was trying to score in the fourth quarter. The first was a Jake Locker keeper that looked to have broken the goal line but was called down at the half yard line. Sarkisian admitted later he should have challenged that one. The second was a Chris Polk rush that actually was ruled a TD and the overruled on review much to the chagrin of Husky fans everywhere.
The "Willingham Curse" still reigns over these two programs and there is only one way to settle it.
Others Considered: Texas, LSU, Penn State, Oklahoma, Baylor
Missouri (Columbia, MO)
While all of these options are good ones, I'm moved by the potential to have Gary Pinkel back on campus for a game and all that comes with such a visit. The potential to matchup the SEC and PAC always has a little pizzazz factor. In addition, the trip to Columbia looks like one that Dawg Fans might really enjoy - especially now that Mizzou appears to be investing all of their new found SEC money into improving the fans' game day experience.