ATLANTA — If No. 4 Washington can topple No. 1 Alabama in today's Peach Bowl, the Huskies will pull off the biggest bowl upset since the one that made coach Chris Petersen a household name: Boise State's miraculous win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
"Obviously everybody points to that Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl as the defining moment of his career," ESPN's Joe Tessitore said.
If Petersen can do it again in the College Football Playoff semifinal, he might have to follow the same script he wrote nine years and 365 days ago, when a team with blue turf knocked off one of the sport's blue bloods.
Start with the most memorable moments from Boise State's 43-42 win over Oklahoma: trickery.
Petersen's Broncos pulled out a hook-and-lateral, a wide receiver pass, and the winning Statue of Liberty in a nine-play sequence. Petersen still uses the gadgetry at Washington, even with more talented rosters than the ones he had in Boise.
"They don't just use trick plays," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "They're very effective at executing those plays as part of their offense."
Saban should be used to seeing them by now.
Auburn used two different quarterbacks plus a trick play on its first two snaps of the Iron Bowl, and Florida unveiled new formations and shifts in the SEC title game. Saban admitted the Gators' moves confused his defense on the first drive of each half; the Gators scored on one of them and advanced to the 2 on the other.
Petersen said he doesn't call trick plays every game, but that didn't stop reporters from asking about it this week.
"You guys have ruined half our game plan talking about trick plays so much," Petersen said. "So those are out."
Unless that's a trick, too.
Even if Petersen doesn't resort to gadget plays, he'll find some other themes from the first big upset of his career.
His Broncos scored the first 14 points before the Sooners settled in. Washington is known for its fast starts: Only Western Kentucky scores more first-quarter points against Division I-A teams than the Huskies.
"I think our guys come out of the gate with a good chip on their shoulder," associate head coach Chris Strausser said.
That chip will probably be pretty large in the Georgia Dome, as more than two-touchdown underdogs. If not, the Huskies won't have a chance; 'Bama has outscored opponents 259-61 in the second half.
Washington will also have to rely on turnovers, just as Boise State did. The Broncos forced four against Oklahoma (and returned one of their three interceptions for a touchdown).
"I tell my guys all the time, 'Our job is to score or get the ball back for the offense,' " Huskies co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said. "That's our job."
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And they're good at it. Washington leads the country in turnovers forced (33) and turnover differential (plus-21). The numbers could grow against an Alabama freshman quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who has thrown eight interceptions over his past eight games.
None of this will surprise Petersen.
"He watches so much film," receiver Dante Pettis said, "it's ridiculous."
Which is why his record in games like this is ridiculous, too.
Petersen is 14-6 in bowl games or season openers, including a 6-2 mark against top-20 teams. With extra time to prepare, Petersen has proven that he can find an opponent's weakness and give his team the confidence to attack it.
"In theory," Strausser said. "With a team like Alabama, that's hard to do."
But if any coach can accomplish that task and slay Alabama, it's Petersen.
"He's done it in the past," said Tessitore, who will call today's game for ESPN. "Now he's got better tools to work with."
Better tools, but a similar blueprint for a historic upset.
Contact Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.