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The Buckeye Brew
Add three Buckeyes and two parts Hurricane
By Richard Linde, Posted 14 January 2003

Returning 16 of 22 position players, the Washington Huskies are on the verge of having an outstanding season in 2003. With improvements in the running game and on defense, the Dawgs could go all the way next season, winning the conference title and appearing in the Bowl Championship Series.

However, because of the disheartening loss to Purdue in the Sun Bowl, some fans do not share this optimism. Many of them bolted the Husky bandwagon after the loss to UCLA last season. They then re-boarded when the Huskies conquered the northwest but exited again after the loss to Purdue in the Sun Bowl.

I, for one, am optimistic about next season’s fortunes because the signs are all there, ready to knock your socks off.

I'm into signs and other harbingers of upcoming events that herald Husky happiness, for they are sprinkled throughout Husky history; you just have to ferret them out, put them together, mix yourself a brew, and then pour it into a glass that's always half full.

I call the brew I'm concocting for next season the Buckeye Brew. Why? Well,  because Washington opens with Ohio State and because that game could well be a transitional one in Husky lore.

Although Washington has played many remarkable football games in the history of Dawgdom, some of the games can be described as prophetic or apocalyptic—a portent of events to unfold.

Even one play can serve as a football forecaster.

Hugh McElhenny’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Minnesota in 1949 was a template for many of his electrifying runs to follow--his 100-yard punt return against USC in 1951 being one such example. Frank Gifford, who punted the ball to him, called it cornball run out of a B movie, only it was for real.

His run against Minnesota was the predictor for his outstanding career at Washington and for the successes of the 1950 season.

With McElhenny, the leg, and Don Heinrich, the arm, in the same backfield, Washington posted an 8-2 season in 1950.

There's one example. Add the King's run to my pharmacopeia for next season, the first part of the Buckeye Brew.

How about Marques Tuiasosopo’s 300/200 game against Stanford in 1999 that silenced his critics—especially those who said he couldn’t pass? It served as an oracle for the 2000 season and is the second part of the brew. In that season, Tuiasosopo averaged 195 yards passing per game and rushed for 394 total yards. He finished the season third in total offense behind Joey Harrington and Carson Palmer and led the Huskies to a win over Purdue in the Rose Bowl, 34-24.

Napolean Kaufman’s sensational kickoff returns as a freshman in 1991 were previews of his career at Washington and of one of the Dawgs' greatest games.

Nip went on to be the Dawgs' career rushing leader, amassing 4041 net yards. During his four-year career, he averaged 91.8 yards per game, while averaging 5.7 yards per carry, both Husky records.

In 1994, Kaufman ran for 211 yards against Ohio State, and the Huskies beat the Buckeyes at home, 25-16. That game--the third part of the Buckeye Brew--previewed the next game, when the Huskies took to the road and upset the mighty Miami Hurricanes 38-20, snapping the ‘Canes 58-game home winning streak. The "Whammy in Miami," as it has been called, is a legendary win in Husky history.

Another game against Ohio State harbingered the future, but we have to go back a few years.

During the 1958 season, Coach Jim Owens played mostly sophomores, and his team won just 3 games while losing 7.

However, two of his games, a loss and win, were portents of victories to come. In October of that year, the Huskies traveled to Columbus, Ohio to play the seventh-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes. In the game the whole way, the Huskies lost a heart stopper, 12-7, proving Owens' Dawgs were far better than the "Big Fella" could have imagined. The preceding week, the Huskies had upset Minnesota, 24-21, at Seattle.

Those two games served as oracles for the next season, predictors for one of the best seasons in Husky history. In 1959, the Huskies posted a 10-1 record and beat Wisconsin, a two touchdown favorite, in the 1960 Rose Bowl, 44-8.

So, what does all of this have to do with next season?

This last season, on the eve of the Oregon State game and nursing a losing record of 4-5-1, the Huskies were poised for a disastrous finish. They would be underdogs in their next three games to close the season. Conquering the northwest, the Dawgs ended the regular season by upsetting Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State.

And, although they lost to Purdue in the Sun Bowl, the late season heroics are a barometer of events to enfold in 2003, the fourth part of the Buckeye Brew.

That's why I'm predicting that the Dawgs will beat Ohio State to open this next season. Another reason the Dawgs will win is that they're due for a pivotal game, one that marks a transition from A to B, one that marks a transition from a light rain to a category six Hurricane--like the one  that stormed Minnesota in '49.

And, of course, there is the Miami connection, the fifth part of the brew.

Like the Huskies in 1994, the Buckeyes snapped a Miami winning streak by winning the Fiesta bowl, savoring a moment of Husky happiness and ending a winning streak that had lasted for 34-straight games. Book ending the streak, the Huskies had been the last team to beat the ‘Canes--in the 2000 season, 34-29.

The Bucks' win over the 'Canes ensured that Gil Dobie's 39-straight wins remains intact; it's the second longest winning streak in college football, and one that all Husky fans should be proud of.

And, of course, the Huskies tied Miami for the national championship in 1991. Subsequent to the championship year, both teams were sanctioned by the NCAA, Washington in 1992 and Miami in 1995. The two teams are historically connected by periods of agony, ecstasy and winning streaks.

The game against Ohio State to start the 2003 season, like the ones against the Buckeyes in 1958 and 1994, could well be another historic game in Husky history, an oracle of an unfolding drama.

As a fortune teller, who has created a brew of three parts Buckeye and two parts Hurricane, I say that somehow the Miami Hurricanes will be a part of next season's exotic concoction, even though the Dawgs don't play them.

And they did call Hugh McElhenny "Hurricane Hugh," didn't they? As I said, I'm into signs, and they all look positive.

 

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