The Best Wins of Don James' Reign

With Don James set to be immortalized in 500 pounds of bronze outside Husky Stadium on Friday, we count down his top wins on — and away from — Montlake. James coached the Huskies from 1975 to 1992, and our list spans nearly his whole tenure: From the win that started it all to his final Rose Bowl victory.

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#7: Nov. 14, 1981

Huskies 13, USC 3

In monsoon-like conditions at Husky Stadium, UW broke a 3-3 tie against the No. 3 Trojans with 2:19 remaining on a 46-yard field goal by Chuck Nelson. The wind moved the ball significantly on the ensuing kickoff, and it rolled free in the end zone until the Huskies' Fred Small recovered it for a touchdown. USC star Marcus Allen rushed for 155 yards, but it was the Huskies who were celebrating at the end.

Photo by Chris Johns / The Seattle Times

#6: 1991 Rose Bowl

Huskies 46, Iowa 34

The Huskies could have been playing for a national championship had it not been for a home loss to UCLA in the second-to-last regular-season game. But the Huskies rebounded with a 55-10 win over Washington State, then thoroughly dominated the Hawkeyes. UW led 39-14 at the end of three quarters, but some late Iowa touchdowns made the score closer than the game actually was.

Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times

#5: Sept. 22, 1990

Huskies 31, USC 0

The Huskies had lost at least four games in each of the previous four seasons but were 2-0 to begin the 1990 season when No. 5 USC came to Husky Stadium. The Washington defense dominated, with Trojans quarterback Todd Marinovich saying after the game: "All I saw was purple."

Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times

#4: Sept. 21, 1991

Huskies 36, Nebraska 21

In the second game of the season, the fourth-ranked Huskies traveled to No. 9 Nebraska. The Huskies trailed 21-9 in the third quarter at one of the most menacing road venues in the nation, then scored four touchdowns in the final 15 minutes, 19 seconds. The Nebraska fans gave the Huskies a standing ovation as they left the field.

Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times

#3: 1978 Rose Bowl

Huskies 27, Michigan 20

The 1977 season, James' third at UW, is when everything turned around. Coming off a 5-6 season, the Huskies started 1977 1-3 and there was discontent brewing among Husky fans. But Washington won six of its next seven games to earn a berth in Rose Bowl against No. 4 Michigan, a two-touchdown favorite. The Huskies dominated early, leading 24-0, then had to hold off a late rally for their first Rose Bowl win in 17 years.

Photo by Seattle Times archives

#2: 1985 Orange Bowl

Huskies 28, Oklahoma 17

The No. 4 Huskies took an early 14-0 lead, but the No. 2 Sooners rallied and led 17-14 in the fourth quarter before former Roosevelt High star Hugh Millen threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Mark Pattison, who had played with Millen at Roosevelt. The Huskies were ranked No. 2 in the final polls.

Photo by Harley Soltes / The Seattle Times

#1: 1992 Rose Bowl

Huskies 34, Michigan 14

The Huskies finished their perfect season in style, easily defeating No. 4 Michigan, with the defense stifling the Wolverine offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. The win catapulted the Huskies to a co-national championship, finishing No. 1 in the coaches' poll, and was the last James' four Rose Bowl victories.

Photo by Rod Mar / The Seattle Times