No. 1 Washington falls to Arizona, 16-3 Huskies' 22-game win streak ends

November 08, 1992|By Gene Wojciechowski | Gene Wojciechowski,Los Angeles Times

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The goal posts were spared, but not much else in the aftermath of Arizona's 16-3 upset yesterday of the late, great No. 1 Washington Huskies.

Washington's stay atop the polls? Finished. Washington's 22-game win streak? History. Washington's national championship hopes? Slim. Washington's Rose Bowl chances? Iffy.

Chances are the dazed Huskies (8-1) will awake this morning, their dreams of an undefeated season as long gone as the uprights pilfered by jubilant Arizona fans, and still wonder how they lost this one.

In short, Washington was beaten by a Wildcats offense so boring that it actually lulls opponents asleep.

Dive plays. Off-tackle plays. Sweep plays. Quarterback sneaks. Arizona (6-2-1) ran them over and over and over again. So predictable were the Wildcats that any of the 58,510 fans who squeezed into a sold-out Arizona Stadium could have directed the offense. The motto of choice: When in doubt, hand off. That's what the Wildcats did, using 54 of their 66 offensive plays for the run.

It worked. The Wildcats' attack did what no team has done to the mighty Huskies. It beat them up and wore them down.

"It's not very fancy, but I do think teams underestimate it," said running back Chuck Levy, who contributed 37 yards to Arizona's 197 net rushing total. "It may be ugly, but we get the job done. Now they're sitting in their locker room [wondering] how we won."

They were doing more than that. They were thinking of lost opportunities. Of four fumbles, three lost. Of one interception. Of several blown chances inside the Arizona 20.

"We have not lost in so long that this hurts real, real bad," said Husky linebacker Dave Hoffman, who did what he could with 12 tackles.

Washington will surely take a fall in the polls, past Miami, Alabama, Michigan, Florida State and Texas A&M. Miami, of course, was the team that nearly lost to Arizona at the Orange Bowl back in September. The one-point margin cost the Hurricanes their No. 1 ranking.

Since losing to Miami, Arizona has won five games and given itself a chance of earning a Rose Bowl bid with a 4-1-1 Pac-10 record. Two more conference victories -- against Southern Cal and Washington State -- coupled with a tie or loss by Washington (5-1 in conference) would give the No. 12 Wildcats a trip to Pasadena.

"I know our offense don't look too good on the outside," linebacker Sean Harris said. "They didn't do nothing in the first quarter. They didn't do nothing in the second quarter. They didn't do nothing in the third quarter. But they turned it on in the fourth quarter."

Turned it on? Sort of. Quarterback George Malauulu wedged his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter. The touchdown put the game out of reach and caused Arizona fans to edge closer the field.

Until Malauulu's score, the Wildcats had to make do with three Steve McLaughlin field goals.

As each quarter passed, it became more obvious that Arizona, especially its defense, was as good as advertised. And with each passing minute, it became apparent Washington was vulnerable.

"I've never been more confident going into a game," Arizona coach Dick Tomey said.

Of course, don't mention the absence of quarterback Billy Joe Hobert to anyone. Hobert, who was suspended for yesterday's game while the school investigates the circumstances involving his acceptance of a $50,000 loan, didn't make the trip to Tucson.

Under the usual Huskies system, Mark Brunell starts and Hobert replaces him in the second quarter and then again in the second half.

"I'm not going to get into anything about the Billy Joe Hobert case," Brunell said. "It had no impact, and I'm not going to talk about it . . . ."

But Hobert might have helped. It was Hobert who rescued the Huskies from a 21-9 deficit against Nebraska last season at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

The Wildcats couldn't have cared less. "It didn't really matter to us," said Wildcats nose tackle Rob Waldrop. "Whatever they bring in, we'll stop it. It didn't matter if it were Hobert, Brunell or if the third-string guy was in there."

C7 Cornerback Keshon Johnson said: "We were prepared."

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