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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 22, 2009 at 7:53 PM

A look at some of the biggest one-season improvements

Washington’s 0-12 record last season means that there is obviously no place for the Huskies to go but up in 2009.
Just how far up they can climb is the question. And any discussion of that topic invariably raises the additional question of what are some of the greatest leaps made by college teams from one year to the next.
The NCAA football record book actually has a nice section detailing the greatest year-to-year leaps. You can find that here, with categories both for most improved teams each year and the most-improved teams of all time.
According to the NCAA record book, the most improved team in Pac-10 history was Stanford in 1940, which went 10-0 a year after going 0-7-1.
The 1959 Huskies are tied for third among Pac-10 schools with an improvement of six-and-a-half games, going from 3-7 to 10-1 in what was the third year for coach Jim Owens.
In the more modern era, the most improved Pac-10 team from one year to the next is Cal in 2002, which jumped from 1-10 to 7-5 in the first year under Jeff Tedford, an improvement of five-and-a-half games.
That Cal team, though,had some things going for it that UW in 2009 might not, such as a strong senior class that yielded two first-round picks the following year in QB Kyle Boller and CB Nnamdi Asomugha, as well as two other all-conference first team picks in DL Tully Banta-Cain and returner LaShaun Ward. UW’s recently released post-spring depth chart featured only five senior starters, one — Ben Ossai — an either/or.
Cal also got to open at home against Baylor and New Mexico State, not LSU.
In fact, a soft schedule is one of the biggest common threads among teams that made huge leaps in recent years. Minnesota was the most improved team last season, going from 1-11 to 7-6. But four of those wins came against Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, Montana State and Florida Atlantic.
Illinois was the most improvedd team of 2007, going from 2-10 to 9-4, and was helped by facing Western Illinois, Ball State and a horrible Syracuse team.
Illinois in 2006, however, was also a lot more competitive than UW in 2008, losing four games by a touchdown or less, and only once by more than 14 points.
Point being that even if UW gets to four or five wins, which I sense for some of you out there would be disappointing, it would still rank historically as a pretty healthy one-year leap.

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