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History is on Huskies’ side when it comes to Cal

Jared Green
Thursday October 03, 2002

Twenty-six years. That’s how long it’s been since the Cal football team beat the Washington Huskies. 

Twenty-two years. That’s how long it’s been since the Cal football team won in the state of Washington. 

Seventeen games. That’s how many games Washington has won at Husky Stadium since last losing at home. 

To say history is against the Golden Bears heading into Saturday’s game against No. 12 Washington at Husky Stadium would be a bit of an understatement. 

But ask any of the participants, and they’ll say this year is different. Washington coach Rick Neuheisel sounded positively frightened of the rejuvenated Bears in a conference call on Tuesday. 

“Every game with Cal has been a dogfight,” he said. “We know we’re going to have to play a great football game to win.” 

That’s not all bluster from Neuheisel, who is in his fourth year in Seattle. The Huskies have extended their winning streak against the Bears with three straight come-from-behind wins, including last season’s game that Cal led 21-10 at halftime before falling 31-28. The year before that, Washington scored 23 points in just six minutes of the fourth quarter to post a 36-24 win in Seattle, a collapse that devastated the Bears and sent them into a 2-13 tailspin to end the woeful Tom Holmoe era. 

So to be honest, the Huskies just might have some higher power looking out for them when they face Cal. Or maybe they’ve just been a better team, not an unfair assessment considering the decade-long slump from which the Bears are trying to break free under Jeff Tedford. 

Tedford wasn’t aware of the Washington winning streak over his new team until Monday and said he wouldn’t be mentioning it to his players. Neuheisel pointed out that none of his players were even born when the streak started, and the Bears have just three players who were alive on Nov. 6, 1976 when their predecessors won 7-0 in Seattle. 

“We just have to prepare to win this year’s game,” Tedford said. “The streak really doesn’t have anything to do with anything.” 

Saturday could be the biggest game of the season for the Bears, and not just because of the history involved. A win would put the Bears at 4-2 with winnable games against conference foes Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford left on the schedule, meaning a winning record wouldn’t be out of the question. A loss would leave them with three straight defeats, not exactly the kind of pick-me-up players like midway through the season, especially players who have known little but losing in their college careers. 

Neuheisel certainly doesn’t want his team to have to make up a deficit this season. Although the Bears have allowed their last two opponents to come back in the second half, the Washington coach wants his team to be the first to get a fast start against Cal. 

“It’s important for us to give our fans something to get excited about early in the game,” Neuheisel said. “The way Cal’s been getting out of the gate, we don’t want them to do the same to us.” 

At least the Bears are no strangers to upsetting a ranked team on the road. Their win at Michigan State three weeks ago was the high point of the season thusfar, so a packed Husky Stadium shouldn’t be overly daunting. 

Cal wide receiver LaShaun Ward, who missed the 2000 trip to Seattle due to injury, said the Bears believe they can defeat the Washington hex. 

“We just have to go in confident,” Ward said. “I know we can go into their house, with all their hype and national ranking, and beat them.” 

Notes: Cal offensive guard Jon Geisel is questionable for Saturday’s game, as is linebacker Matt Nixon. Nixon sat out the Washington State game after spraining his knee in practice last week, while Geisel was forced to leave the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return... Tedford said freshman wide receiver David Gray, who caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from tailback Terrell Williams on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage this season, will likely be a medical redshirt due to a shoulder injury. Tedford said linebacker Ryan Estes will also redshirt, although he is working on the scout team.