Jake Browning against Justin Herbert continues a history of great quarterback matchups between Washington and Oregon. It all started with Sonny Sixkiller, a Husky great, and Dan Fouts, an Football Hall-of-Famer, in 1972.
There will be a lot of attention on the quarterbacks in Saturday’s matchup between Washington and Oregon.
Jake Browning, Washington’s senior, is the most prolific quarterback in school history. Oregon’s Justin Herbert, who stayed home after growing up in Eugene, Ore., is expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft next spring if he elects to leave school a year early.
These are schools used to having star quarterbacks, and there have been plenty of great quarterback matchups before in this series.
Here is a look at five of the best (although some didn’t match the hype), in chronological order:
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1972: UW’s Sonny Sixkiller vs. Oregon’s Dan Fouts
Fouts, who would go on to a Pro Football Hall of Fame career, and Sixkiller, one of the most popular Huskies of all time, were seniors.
The Huskies were 4-0, ranked No. 11 in the country and playing at home. Oregon was 1-3 and coming off a 65-20 loss to USC.
But this was no easy win for UW, even after it led 16-0 at halftime.
Fouts brought the Ducks to 23-17 with a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and the game wasn’t decided until Fouts’ fourth-down pass into the end zone was batted down with 12 seconds left.
Sixkiller did not have one of his more prolific days, completing 10 of 24 passes for 144 yards. But the most important numbers were three touchdowns and no interceptions. Fouts, meanwhile, completed 21 of 47 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times.
“Fouts was great,” Sixkiller said afterward. “I expected this. I thought, we wipe ’em off the map or it could be exactly like this. I’m glad it’s my last game against Oregon.”
1986: UW’s Chris Chandler vs. Oregon’s Chris Miller
Miller, a senior and the all-conference quarterback the year before, needed 159 yards passing to break Fouts’ career record at Oregon.
He didn’t get it.
Miller, who would play 10 seasons in the NFL, completed just 10 of 22 pass attempts for 93 yards and one interception as the host Huskies romped 38-3. He was sacked four times for 31 yards before leaving at the end of the third quarter with a neck injury.
Chandler, a junior who would play 17 seasons in the NFL, relied on his legs in leading the win, running an option offense designed for the Ducks. UW rushed for 305 yards and Chandler ran eight times for 48 yards and scored twice on option runs of 8 and 6 yards. Chandler was 10-of-24 passing for 109 yards and one interception.
“Chandler was the difference with the option and his throwing,” said Oregon coach Rich Brooks, whose team fell to 2-6. “The play that killed us was the option. We tried to defend the power run up the middle, and they got around the end.”
Said Chandler, whose team improved to 6-1: “You get out there running around and it’s kind of fun,” he said.
1990: UW’s Mark Brunell vs. Oregon’s Bill Musgrave
The Ducks entered the game ranked No. 19 with a 4-1 record, and Musgrave, a senior, was being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
But it was Brunell, a junior, who was the bigger star, leading the No. 17 Huskies to a 38-17 romp in front of 73,498 fans at Husky Stadium.
Brunell hurt the Ducks with his arm and his legs, completing 11 of 22 passes for 193 yards, and rushing for 56 yards and two touchdowns as UW improved to 5-1.
Musgrave, under heavy pressure all game, was 22 of 45 for 302 yards.
“Mark Brunell has a great ability to run the football and yet I think he’s going to be a great passer,” said Gary Pinkel, the UW offensive coordinator.
“He’s just got such incredible potential.”
Brunell led the Huskies to a Rose Bowl win that year, and played 19 seasons in the NFL.
Musgrave played several seasons in the NFL and is now the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.
2000: UW’s Marques Tuiasosopo vs. Oregon’s Joey Harrington
The Huskies came into Eugene 3-0 and ranked No. 6, and were led by Tuiasosopo, their senior quarterback.
It was a magical season for the Huskies, but it was not a magical game as the Ducks won 23-16.
Tuiasosopo was just 14 of 37 for 229 yards and two interceptions, and was held to 10 rushing yards.
“We took away the option for the most part, took away the run and forced them to throw the ball,” Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said.
Harrington, a junior, did not have to do much with Oregon rushing for 229 yards. He completed 9 of 22 passes for 119 yards and rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Tuiasosopo and the Huskies did not lose again, finishing the season 11-1 after a Rose Bowl win over Purdue.
Harrington and Oregon finished 10-2 with a win over Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
The next season, Harrington was Pac-12 offensive player of the year, and then he had a seven-year NFL career after being the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft.
Tuiasosopo spent eight seasons in the NFL and is the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for California. In 2013, he was the interim coach for Washington when the Huskies beat Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
2013: UW’s Keith Price vs. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota
Mariota, a redshirt sophomore who would win the Heisman Trophy the next season, was 24-for-31 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 88 more yards and another score as Oregon won 45-24 at Husky Stadium, the Ducks’ 10th consecutive win in the series.
Price, third on UW’s all-time list for career passing yardage and second in touchdown passes, was 19 of 32 for 182 yards and a score.
The Huskies closed to a touchdown at 31-24 late in the third quarter, but Mariota then took over.
“I cannot think of a more difficult guy (to defend),” said Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox (now the coach at California), about Mariota.
Mariota now plays for the Tennessee Titans after being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft.
Price spent three years in the Canadian Football League and is now on the roster of the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football.