Coach Gilmour Dobie didn't lose a game in nine seasons, amassing a record of 59-0-3. Until Cal came along and ended the unbeaten streak a century ago.
From 1908 through 1916, Gilmour Dobie never lost a game as the University of Washington football coach. His record at UW: 59 wins, zero losses, three ties.
Washington’s unbeaten streak from that era remains the longest in the history of college football.
Washington’s 1915 team is one of the most dominant in college football history, finishing with 7-0-0 record and outscoring its opponents 274-14. That season opened with a dubious 31-0 win over Ballard High School (it wasn’t uncommon for college teams of that era to play high school teams), but it also included a 72-0 shellacking of California in Berkeley during the two schools’ first meeting as rivals in the Pacific Coast Conference, the precursor to what would become the Pac-12 Conference.
Two years later, in Washington’s first conference game after Dobie’s forced resignation, California stunned UW in Berkeley, 27-0. Thus ended the longest unbeaten streak in college football.
“WASHINGTON SUFFERS DEFEAT,” read the banner headline in The Seattle Times on Nov. 4, 1917.
Washington played only four games in 1917 under first-year coach Claude J. Hunt, finishing 1-2-1 — and 0-2-1 in the PCC, which included a 0-0 tie against Oregon State.
With World War I raging, some Washington players had gone off to serve, leaving the football team with only one returning letterman that season. Hunt later lamented that his players had an average weight of 165 pounds, far less than the team from Washington State, which had 12 returning letterman and an average weight of about 175 pounds. (Washington State defeated UW 14-0 in Seattle to close out that season.)
Washington defeated Whitman, 14-0, in its first game in 1917. Two weeks later, Hunt took his young team to Berkeley.
“As predicted by Hunt,” The Times wrote, “Washington was inexperienced and met a team which had been hardened in the fire of six games, while Washington was playing it second game of the season.”
Washington was no match for California’s backfield of Andrew Rowe and Carlton Wells. After a scoreless first quarter, Rowe ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter to give Cal a 14-0 halftime lead. Rowe added a 20-yard TD run in the third quarter and Wells scored on a 5-yard run later in the quarter to make it 27-0.
“Rowe and Wells towered above the Washington men,” The Times wrote, “and seem to be capable of making gains whenever called upon.”
At the team’s end-of-year banquet, Hunt told an audience what he had learned in his first season.
“I came here without an idea of what schools I wanted to beat. I merely wanted to do the best I could,” he said. “But after a season of play I am possessed of an ideal. It is to beat Pullman and California, and you fellows must be with me.”
Hunt joined the war efforts in 1918, serving on the National War Work Council of the YMCA. He did not coach that year (UW played just two games in 1918 under coach Tony Savage, defeating Oregon State but losing at Oregon).
In 1919, Hunt returned for one final season as the UW coach, going 5-1-0 and tying for first in the Pacific Coast Conference. His final game at Washington: a 7-0 win over California.