ATLANTA — Turnovers. Against a team like Alabama, you cannot turn the ball over twice, especially throwing a pick six at the end of the first half and expect to beat a team as deep and deadly as the Crimson Tide. That was only part of the story of the 2016 Peach Bowl.
Field position. That did not help either. The Huskies were pinned deep in their own end most of the afternoon, and couldn't move the ball effectively against the stoutest defense in the nation. But that too was only part of the story.
From the Huskies' perspective, this was more than a Bowl game. This appearance in the national semifinal marks a return to prominence on the national stage.
"This is a monumental moment. Biggest game we played since the 1991 Rose Bowl", said Jason Jenks from Seattle.
Husky pride was on full display all over Atlanta this week. Culminating in a pregame party in the Dawg Pound, otherwise known as the GeorgiaDome Convention Center, where hundreds of Husky fans converged for a pregame tailgate.
"Are you lost?" I asked four Alabama fans, an island of red in a sea of purple.
"My friend dared me to go in here, and we thought we would liven things up a bit", one of the Crimson clad gentlemen told me. "And I just wanted to warn ya, this is gonna hurt, but no cryin'. You aren't the first, and you definitely won't be the last. Roll Tide!"
Turned out, his words were prophetic. In the end, there was some crying among the Washington fans.
"Tough day. Yeah for sure. It did not go the way we expected it to go, but I think we played well and it was so cool to be here in the student section to see all the passion that everybody has for our school", said UW student Julia Sahlen.
Another UW student, Niki Senendari said, "I'm just happy that we came this far. It was a great run and will do it again next year. I'm just proud to be a Husky."
Even in defeat, the faithful remained so. As the team walked out of the stadium toward the bus, a throng of Husky fans-- hundreds of them--were there to greet them, with cheers and with hugs.
"They've seen it, they have felt it, they have tasted it a little bit. And so that's good", said Husky head coach Chris Petersen. "Our job as coaches will be to take them back to what got us here. The bar is moving forward. We don't pick up with our new team next year right where we are here."
You get the sense that even though this is the end of a season, it's just the beginning of a new era of Washington football.