With the uncertainty that conference realignment has brought, perhaps no road trip or familiar opponent is certain over the long run. And conference realignment will continue to reshape college football, as I believe we are far from reaching homeostasis. But let’s start with what we have, shall we?
All of our non-conference games this year are at home. Away games to the Ducks or Cougars are in a class by themselves, and as far as we know aren’t going anywhere - for now. I love the Bay Area and Berkeley is a gem. Phoenix/Tempe is fine. Love the desert.
But I’m here to tell you about my pick as the best road trip this season, and for me, this year, it’s UCLA at the Rose Bowl. And the others ain’t even close.
Full disclosure: I’ve only been to one UW road game, and it wasn’t even a Pac-10/12 contest. My one experience as a visiting Husky fan was vs LSU in 2012. I was working in the Florida panhandle and made the 4-hour drive to Baton Rouge to make the game solo. And even though the Dawgs came out hot with a 3-0 start in SEC country, they were creamed for the other 59 minutes of the game, en route to a 41-3 shellacking. But the fans in and around Tiger Stadium were so genuine, welcoming, and fun that I will always pull for LSU when I happen to catch a game on TV. (Geaux Tigers!) And by the way, Tiger stadium is awe-inspiring enormous.
Who knows when the Huskies will play in the Rose Bowl stadium again beyond this season. But more than that, this may be the last time UW ever plays the Bruins of UCLA at that most-storied ground in Pasadena. And barring some soap opera turnabout, this is the last matchup vs the Bruins before they jump to the Big10, as they aren’t even on UW’s schedule next year.
The Huskies have won 11 times in 37 contests away to UCLA, going back to the first meeting in 1932. The most recent win was a slugfest in 2018, but prior to that you have to track all the way back to 1995 to see a win on Bruin turf. With the scheduling protocols that accompanied the creation of the Pac-12 in 2011, UW and UCLA have played each other as often as they’ve not. 2022 will be the 6th time in 12 years the two have met in conference play. And while UW has won 2 of the last 3, UCLA went 13-3 against UW between 1997-2014, with zero Husky wins in Pasadena.
The University of Washington Huskies have been to the Rose Bowl Game 15 times and won 7, both second-most of all Pac teams behind USC. Victories over Iowa, Michigan, and Purdue are some of the greatest highlights of Husky football history. And just because I’m a Husky doesn’t make it any less true, that no Pac-12 football uniform - home or away - looks better with Roses stitched to the shoulders than ours. This is a fact known around the world, and likely beyond.
The advent of the BCS began the Rose Bowl Game’s metamorphosis away from faithful home of the annual Pac / Big10 showdown, and sullied “The Grandaddy of Them All” ’s grandiosity in my opinion, as it was now subordinate to the dictates of the BCS. This has continued under the current College Football Playoff. Unfortunate that, as I always found comfort in the incontrovertible pairing of a righteous concept — “winning the conference” — with a physical place on Earth — “going to the Rose Bowl”. It added certainty, tradition, a material goal. The weather didn’t hurt either.
So it goes.
Will the Rose Bowl Game reassess it’s position on the long-standing matchup of Big10 and Pac now that the two LA schools - and the one school that calls the Rose Bowl home - are ditching the Pac altogether? Has anyone worried over this yet? I have.
I lived in LA for two years, just east of the LA river on the fringe of East LA. I even had a sweet bike ride that wound it’s way from my home in Lincoln Heights through the neighborhoods of northeast LA, on up to Pasadena. I rode my bike by the Rose Bowl a few times, and the significance was not lost on me. I’d stop and stare at the exterior.
Seeing an unfamiliar sports stadium for the first time from the outside - on a day when nothing is going on inside - is fascinating. The surrounding environs are typically something you never think about beforehand, and can be disappointing or exhilarating, or neither. Gazing upon it, the Rose Bowl exudes the style of a bygone era, and its place in the Pantheon of college football is beyond question.
But the two years I lived in LA were also the two years that Keith Gilbertson was straddling the gap between the disappointing, unsurprising fall of Rick Neuheisel, and the waiting jaws of Tyrone Willingham, jaws that would masticate the UW football program into a hideous, lifeless pulp that no loved one could deign to identify. Fortunately, that is all ancient history. And while the Dawgs did play UCLA in Pasadena one year that I lived there, I didn’t make the game.
I’ve picked UCLA as the best Husky road trip of 2022 because it is the end of an era, and is the last chance to watch the Huskies play in the Rose Bowl while it’s still a Pac-12 stadium.
I guess Kalen DeBoer and his Huskies will have to notch enough conference championships to make the Rose Bowl not seem so far away after all.
Places to visit in LA if you’ve never been or even if you have:
Before the game, Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena is a British Pub that specializes in Belgian beers, and has great food and that other football on the telly. Recommended!
After the game take the 110 south out of Pasadena. Act like you’re getting on the 5 and right where they merge take the Broadway exit and let it dump you off in Lincoln Heights “where you belong!” (in Fred Armisen voice) A few blocks away on N. Broadway and Avenue 19 is Carnitas Michoacan (open 24 hours). I would’ve eaten here every day if my girlfriend at the time would’ve let me. Then after we broke up, I did.
On your way back toward the beach - because of course that’s where you’re staying - stop for a drink at the Formosa room. Sure, it’s no secret hole in the wall, but you’re in LA not Seattle. Go there for the Hollywood icon that it is and the oh-so-LA bevy of famous headshots lining the walls, looking down on you from their perch above the scarlet Oriental wallpaper. Or if you’re looking for a bonkers tequila menu, try El Carmen on West 3rd street, halfway between the Beverly Center and the LA Farmer’s Market. No, none of these stops are near each other. But that’s LA for you.
Unfortunately, by the time Friday’s game is over it’ll be too late to get dinner at Musso & Frank, one of LA’s most famous restaurants (maybe it’s still not too late to book a reservation for Saturday night). But you’re in luck because Canter’s Deli (and Kibitz room) on Fairfax is open 24 hours! Don’t miss this historic Jewish deli, there’s nothing like it in Seattle.
The day after the game you could spend the afternoon at the Red Lion Tavern in Silverlake, a worn, multi-level, labyrinthine German pub, with an outdoor, covered beer garden hidden from the street and ensconced in greenery. And The Prince - old LA fancy off Wilshire in Koreatown - is a favorite of yours truly. Some episodes of Mad Men were shot there, as was part of the film Chinatown (1974).
And no trip to Cali is complete without a trip to In-N-Out Burger. And as I professed months ago in the UWDP writers Slack - Dick’s burgers is great. But In-N-Out is even better. And this coming from a Puget Sound local. Sorry folks. Take your In-N-Out Burger out to Santa Monica. You’ll have the whole beach to yourself. Trust me on this. Even though it will be in the 70s and sunny, no one will be there because summer is over. Why would you go to the beach if it isn’t summer? Ask someone who lives there. It’s weird. I know.
Old Rose Bowl pic. Walter Bailey, Dana Hall and Tommie Smith. Time for our Dawgs to get back there! #go huskies #woof pic.twitter.com/RmME8waGy5— Shane Pahukoa (@HuskyDB21) July 19, 2015
I’ve made my argument. But this is still a democracy dammnit, and everyone gets a vote!
Which away game would make the best road trip this year?
This poll is closed
UCLA at the Rose Bowl
ASU in Tempe
Ducks in Eugene
Cougs in Pullman