Amid the pageantry, the 103,566 fans and the build-up to the 78th Rose Bowl, what University of Washington football players most about the game against Michigan was how quickly it was over.
Defensive tackle Steve Emtman, supposedly coming off a bout with the flu, was more dominant than ever, destroying the double- and even triple-team sent to out to deal with him during the 34-14 UW victory.
Wolverines quarterback Elvis Grbac was a basket case from the outset, according to linebacker James Clifford.
"After the first series, he was so lost, he didn't know what to do," Clifford recalled.
Then there was Husky offensive guard Kris Rongen, protecting on a pass play, expecting more out of the Big Ten team and feeling let down
"The Michigan defensive lineman in that Rose Bowl just gave up," Rongen said. "Ed Cunningham and I double-teamed him on a pass play and he didn't even try. He just stood there. I was really disappointed."
This is another in series of vignettes about the UW's 1991 national championship team, supplementing the conversation for the pandemic-delayed and -shortened season. We've come to game 12 of this throwback series, the '92 Rose Bowl against Michigan.
At another time, Rongen might have been able to excuse the Wolverine lineman's lack of interest. He was once the Huskies' Big Lebowski, an admitted slacker.
"I sat around and did nothing for four years at the U," he said. "Finally, it all snapped in and came together and I was fortunate to start all 12 games and have a good season."
However, this game was different. This was the Rose Bowl. This was sacred.
Rongen let his opponent know it. Just a little reminder that it was time to play.
"I might have thrown a little body shot to wake him up," said the jovial lineman, now a Washington state corrections officer, with a little grin, "so he could play with us a little bit."
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