We have reached the finale of our 64-team bracket to figure out which is the best Pac-12 football team of all-time and congratulations to 1991 Washington for taking home the honor.
In case you missed our earlier posts, we put together a bracket of the 64 best Pac-12 football teams of all-time and a panel of Pacific Takes writers voted on each match-up until we got here.
Here are explanations for why our voters cast their vote for 1991 Washington over 2004 USC as the best Pac-12 team of all-time and the final bracket.
Avinash Kunnath - I never watched 91 Washington, but I knew that team was incredible. They had an amazing defense, perhaps the best the conference has had to offer. Two teams managed to crack 20 points that season, and both were in two touchdown losses. 2004 USC was great too, but they are just a tad bit more inconsistent and historically overrated for whipping Oklahoma. The Trojans nearly lost to a four win Stanford team and a six win UCLA squad. They were a great team, but honestly 2005 USC was more of the juggernaut that just ended up slipping up at the last minute.
So I'd take the steadiness of 1991 Washington over the spectacular 2004 USC team.
Sam Barbee - People forget how athletic that '91 team was. They had two quarterbacks: Billy Joe Hobert and Mark Brunell, both of whom could throw and run. They had Greg Lewis one of the best running backs to play at UW and had speed outside in Mario Bailey and others. Then there's the defense that some think was a top-5 defense in the history of college football. As most football games do, it would come down to the battle in the trenches (I love cliches). I think Washington's aggressive 3-4 overwhelms USC and the Dawgs win 27-24.
Jamie Uyeyama - This is a tough call, but I'm going to go with the '91 UW squad. I was young when I watched them, but I'm old enough to have seen them play and they were a force. I saw the 2004 USC team play as well and no doubt they were a phenomenally talented team, but not so much more talented than UW that it would make a giant difference. I think that Huskies team was more physical and that would be the deciding factor in a really close game.
Patrick Flower - These two teams are great ambassadors for Pac-12 football and it's hard to chose based on their opposite strengths but that's what makes this discussion so great. '91 UW had one of the most defensively dominant units in conference (or NCAA) history while '04 USC was the antithesis with offensive firepower busting at the seams.
I often agree that defense trumps offense and USC had a few closer than expected games against average opponents while UW's '91 team was simply dominant against everyone. In the end, I'll take '91 UW in a squeaker over '04 USC.
Mark Schipper - 1991 Washington is my pick.
I wondered every once in a while if it wasn't the power of nostalgia for acts of greatness witnessed as a child that made me associate this Washington team with a destroyer. After further review, I don't believe that was the case. When I go back over what the '91 Huskies accomplished, accounting not only for who they beat, but how they beat them, this team stands as one of the greatest ever. Not just in the Pac-10/12, but with a place reserved at whatever feast the champions throw to argue over who would've done what to who.
It was the signature team for a coach in Don James who spent 20 seasons building powerhouse football teams. This was when everything he had, from players, to assistance coaches to the system, all fused together at the right time under the right conditions and ignited. This team was the ideal manifestation of his leadership. It never got better than this but it didn't need to, being perfect once is a rare achievement.
That 2004 USC team was great, but it was a flashy super hero with a few weaknesses to Washington's completely indestructible force.