The Cody Pickett to Reggie Williams connection, sprinkled in were some Rich Alexis runs, and the late Marquis Cooper was holding down the defense. Do you remember that team, that was the last time the Huskies played in a bowl game. I was in eighth grade for God’s sake, and more worried about what girl I was going to try and kiss at the next middle school dance than the Huskies in the Sun Bowl.
Back then, the Sun Bowl was an average season for the Huskies. The program had a streak of 20+ non-losing seasons, and life as a Husky fan was just peaches. Then the last eight years happened. We sat there, season after season, watching our Huskies find ways to lose games, find ways to get burned deep in the waning seconds of games, find ways to miss out on the postseason. But no matter how many seasons we floundered away, no matter how bad it got, the Husky faithful kept a confidence about them (founded or not) that the Huskies would be back on top, it was just a matter of time.
That matter of time, many of us thought, would be this year. Remember the lofty goals we set for this team? Jake Locker, Heisman Trophy winner, and with him playing at that level and the conference having a down year, heck we could take the conference.
We aimed too high Husky fans, those dreams were unrealistic, and in the back of our heads a part of us always knew it. A defense that had been the worst in program history two years running, was not going to perform at Pac-10 championship level. An O-line that featured one starter playing the same position he had in 2009 was not going to be able to protect Locker well enough. And as much as it pains me to say it, Jake Locker was not the messiah returned to us in human form.
Disappointed at BYU, encouraged against Syracuse, embarrassed by Nebraska, disgusted against ASU, enchanted by last second wins at USC and in OT against Oregon St. A tumultuous, inconsistent ride through the first half of our season put as at 3-3, halfway to the bowl we wanted so bad.
Then murderer’s row stepped to the plate and knocked the Huskies out. Blown out by Arizona and Stanford, 3-5 and we know we’re going to 3-6 with Oregon up next.
That was when Steve Sarkisian made the best decision of the season. We wrote about it when it happened. Sarkisian decided to bench an ailing Jake Locker who had been playing hurt for weeks. He could have played him against Oregon, rumors spread that Jake had been playing with broken ribs the last week at least, he could have played. But Sark sat him, to give this team the best chance to make a bowl game. With a healthy Locker, a Locker with three weeks to heal, he can win those games.
And that’s exactly what he did. He led game winning drives in each of the final two games, he willed this team to the postseason, and proved what he is made of. No, he is not the best quarterback in the country, he didn’t live up to the hype that was heaped on him this summer. But you find me a player with more heart than Jake Locker. Find me a player with more determination and passion than Jake Locker. When the game is on the line, when someone needs to reach out and take it, he rises to the occasion.
This is a defining moment in a program. The three games this team had to win to get here, they are the three games that are going to usher in a new era of Husky Football. It may not have been what we imagined before the season started, but the way this team got to where it is, is bigger for this program than you could ever imagine.
Two years removed from an 0-12 season this team has finished 3rd in the Pac-10. Two years removed from an 0-12 season this team is playing in a postseason game. This is the turning point, this is what we have waited for.
Let’s show San Diego a party its never seen before. Let out eight years of frustration, you deserve it.