College Football Seasons Where More Than 2 Teams Ended Undefeated College Football – A Season of 2 Games, One Becomes Abject Heartache, the Other Extreme Joy

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College Football – A Season of 2 Games, One Becomes Abject Heartache, the Other Extreme Joy

This is the story of only two games in a college football team’s season – one of intense heartache and the other of extreme joy. The team this season was the University of Washington.

Charles Dickens wrote the famous line in his novel “A Tale of Two Cities” – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …,” and Husky football players experienced these two events in reverse order.

The Huskies finished the 2008 season with a winless record of 0–12. They started the 2009 season at home against the then 11th ranked Louisiana State University Tigers. After losing 14 straight games over two seasons, the Huskies faithful could be forgiven for expecting the worst.

Washington surprised everyone, and especially LSU, by taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field to score a touchdown. The Huskies were fired up under new head coach Steve Sarkisian, who would quickly become known as “Sark” and achieve celebrity status in the Western Washington sports community.

At the end of the LSU opener, the Huskies won the ball movement statistical battle but lost the battle 31-23.

In their next game at home against the Idaho Vandals, the Washington Huskies forced a field goal on their first 5 possessions to win 42–23 and snap a 15-game losing streak.

In their third game of the season, again at home, something short of a miracle happened—Washington was upset, then Eric Folk hit a 22-yard field goal to put No. 3 Southern California up 16-13 with just 3 seconds left. the game

A 2-1 start made the Huskies the talk of Seattle and even the nation because of Southern Cal’s tremendous success (at least 11 wins and the BCS Bowl 7 straight years) and high ranking in the polls.

The Huskies then hit the road for their first away game of the year and faced a rejuvenated Stanford Cardinal team and 6-foot-1, 237-pound senior running back Toby Gerhardt, who rushed for 200 yards and exposed the Huskies. ‘ Improper handling skills.

Washington’s young, talented but inexperienced players couldn’t stop Gerhart, who simply outran the Huskies.

An undefeated win over Southern Cal was followed by a big loss for the Stanford Huskies, and another road trip to South Bend, Indiana to face the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. This is where our story of a two-game season begins.

No college program is more storied in football than Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have won 11 national championships, had 12 undefeated seasons and 10 other seasons with at least one loss or a tie, produced more All-Americans than any other school, produced 7 Heisman Trophy winners and had the best coach. History Record – Knute Rockne had 105 wins, 12 losses and 5 ties in 13 years and guided the Fighting Irish to 6 national championships.

Washington players who Google “Notre Dame” can quickly become intimidated by its legend, notoriety and tradition. Lined up at middle linebacker on game day, one can easily imagine watching the Devils rush out of the backfield in search of another win.

But this year’s edition of the Washington Huskies has been virtually stagnant. As bad as Washington was on defense, Notre Dame didn’t look much better and a battle of wills ensued.

With less than a minute left in the 3rd quarter, Notre Dame began its legendary tradition of stopping Jake Locker from scoring on two quarterback sneak attempts from the 1-yard line; With the score at the Washington 24 and Notre Dame 19, the Huskies had to give up the ball. If the Huskies had scored, they would have taken a 31-19 lead and likely would have broken Notre Dame’s back.

It was a bitter pill for Jake Locker—Washington’s most talented and versatile player (Husky coaches say Locker can play 7 different positions on the field)—to swallow. He had literally carried the Washington team on his back for two years, and now his offensive line couldn’t back the Irish 6 inches.

Then Chris Polk, the Huskies’ surprise redshirt freshman running back, appeared to give the Huskies a 30-22 lead with a 6-yard TD run with 7:07 left, but it was downed at the half-yard line after a review. It was a ruse as Polk scored, but someone forgot to give the replay official a good set of eyes; Maybe he was a closet Notre Dame fan.

On 1st down from the Notre Dame 1-yard line, Polk lost a yard as the Fighting Irish line held. On 2nd, Locker passed incomplete. On 3rd down and 2, Locker ran and the Irish line held again. On 4th down, Notre Dame was again penalized for 1 yard and Washington got a new set of first downs.

On 1st down, Polk ran again and the Irish caught again. On 2nd down, Washington was penalized 5 yards. On the repeat 2nd down, Locker passed to fullback Paul Homer for 5 yards and the Huskies scored again with 1 yard. Locker ran again on third down and held the Irish line. Washington was penalized 5 yards on 4th down and on a 4th down replay, Washington settled for a 27-22 Huskies field goal.

Incredibly, the Huskies had 6 scoring chances against the Irish of 2 yards or less, and the Irish defense, which had not played well all day, held the line. Polk, who had two interceptions, finished the day with 136 yards, a career best for the redshirt freshman.

Notre Dame responded quickly with a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to go up 30-27.

With 1:20 left in the game, Locker—the oldest quarterback to wear the jersey at the University of Washington in 2000—quietly led his Huskies down the field as Marcus Tuasosopo and Eric Folk kicked a 37-yard field goal. Play at 30 and send it into overtime.

Tuisosopo is the son of former NFL defensive lineman Manu Tuisosopo and the older brother of NFL fullback Zach Tuisosopo and Seattle Mariners 3rd baseman Matt Tuisosopo. Jake Locker is in good company.

Notre Dame quickly scored a first down to go up 37–30 in overtime, and then the Washington offensive line, which was 6 plays late in completion, sacked Locker for 10 yards and Locker threw three incomplete passes. His final pass, a 33-yarder to the 1-yard line, was hauled in by De’Andre Goodwin, who was hurt when he was tackled two times by Notre Dame defenders at the goal line.

Locker, Goodwin, the entire team and the coaching staff suffered a great deal from this disgraceful end. After fighting through his warrior-like composure, Locker was so crushed and emotional that he couldn’t make it to the postgame press conference.

(Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a 2-part series.)

Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley

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