About this time last year, the University of Washington football team walked into an unfamiliar situation against a familiar opponent. Tonight, quite the opposite awaits the Huskies.
Having already experienced what it feels like to play in a bowl game, and making the most of it, UW is back for more. But the Huskies (7-5) won’t have the benefit of knowing their opponent this time around.
Not only has UW not faced Baylor since 1965, but the teams also have little carryover on the rosters. It’s unlikely that any of the Huskies have lined up against a single member of the 15th-ranked Bears (9-3) at any level.
“It’s fun,” UW junior center Drew Schaefer said. “You always like playing out of conference and kind of seeing how the Pac-12 and the Big 12 would match up. That’s kind of fun for us.”
Baylor’s 119-man roster includes 108 players from the state of Texas. The only one of those who has played a college game in the state of Washington is defensive back Demetri Goodson, and that was on the basketball court as a member of the Gonzaga basketball team. (A foot injury has limited Goodson to four games this season, and it appears unlikely he’ll be back on the field for tonight’s game.) Not a single UW player hails from Texas.
Baylor coach Art Briles said earlier this month that he’s only crossed paths with the UW coaching staff once on the recruiting trail.
Like Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies, Briles and the Bears were able to snap a long drought of postseason participation last December. But Baylor came up short in that game, a 38-14 loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl one year ago today.
While the Huskies might have had experience as a bowl winner – they bounced back from a regular-season loss to Nebraska by beating the Cornhuskers in last year’s Holiday Bowl – Baylor is using last season’s underwhelming bowl performance as a motivator.
“For us being back this year, it’s a little different mentality,” Briles said. “Last year, we didn’t finish strong at the end of the season.”