Every storied college football program has their list of all-time players, and memorable games. But for the fortunate ones, there is a certain season that reigns supreme over all the others. There is that time when everything goes right for them. For the Washington Huskies, the year was 1991. It was the Washington Huskies perfect season, when everything went their way en route to a 12-0 season.
This Group of all stars, could not have accomplished what they did without the recruiting and coaching of Head Coach Don James, one of the greatest College football coaches of all time. James began his head coaching career at Kent State University going 25-19-1 in his three seasons with the team. After his third season, he received the call from the University of Washington to become their new head coach in 1975. This was the smartest move the Washington Huskies program had made to date. During his time at Washington, James compiled a 153-57-2 record, winning the Rose Bowl four times and receiving the college football coach of the year three times. However, none of his achievements were ever as satisfying as the 1991 National Championship he won with the Huskies.
The 1st Round talent
Washington had a stellar defense on this national championship team. The star was defensive lineman Steve Emtman. He had a shortened NFL career due to several injuries. His college career, however, was elite. He was a two time Pac-10 defensive player of the year, a unanimous All American, an Outland Trophy winner, the UPI lineman of the year, and a Heisman finalist. In Washington’s national championship year, he recorded 62 tackles and 20.5 tackles for a loss, a feat that is not easily matched. With his incredible stats, Emtman was voted into the college football hall of fame in 2006.
Another integral part to the Washington Huskies defense in 1991, was Dana Hall. The 6-2 206 pound safety from Bellflower, California became a star at University of Washington. His dynamic play on the field was recognized by the NFL, and he subsequently was drafted in the first round, 18th overall, to the San Francisco 49ers. Hall had a six year career in the NFL playing for the 49ers, Browns, and Jaguars. He now coaches football at Chaffey college.
Washington @ Nebraska: The Huskies had just come off an absolute rout over Stanford, thrashing them 42-7 in the first game of the season. However they were in for a real test playing the powerhouse, ninth ranked Nebraska in Lincoln. If the Huskies gave up in the third quarter, the fate of their season would have been done. The Cornhuskers were up 21-9 in the third quarter. All the momentum was riding with the Cornhuskers, until a 15-yard run by Beno Bryant. After that touchdown, the Huskies could not be stopped, scoring on each of their remaining drives. This was Washington’s second win of the season,but the way they came back and stormed past this major opponent, demonstrated the potential for what would eventually be a national championship season.
Washington @ California: The Huskies were hot, going undefeated in their first five games. However, going into seventh ranked Cal’s stadium and coming out with a win would not be easy. Washington was elite at getting the ball into the red zone, however they could not quite convert. As on four separate possessions within the 15-yard line they only came away with 3 points in total. It was 17-17 going into the third quarter and the Huskies perfect season was in jeopardy. But a Beno Bryant fourth quarter touchdown secured the win for Washington, as they held on 24-17 to win the game.
Washington Vs Michigan (Rose Bowl): This was it. After an 11-0 season, it all came down to the Rose Bowl. The Huskies were in tough, playing the fourth ranked Michigan Wolverines, starring Heisman trophy winner Desmond Howard. Although the Wolverines had all this talent, the Huskies showed no signs of intimidation. The score was definitely closer than the game, as Washington dominated on all sides of the ball. This game was an absolute blow out,with a final score of 34-14, that included a last minute touchdown by Michigan.
The Split Decision
Although Washington ended up splitting the National title with Miami that year, it was just as memorable, as the Huskies claimed the first ever national title going 12-0. With the star defense led by Emtman and Hall, and the powerful offense that had the likes of Beno Bryant and Billy Joe Hobert this team had the perfect blend of skill and chemistry that was a rarity. This is the greatest team the Washington Huskies have ever put on the football field.