When most people think of the former Kingdome in Seattle, WA, college football doesn’t come to mind. But the Kingdome had a few collegiate moments.
The greatest rushing performance in the Kingdome? No, not Bo Jackson.
In 1976, No. 11 Southern California defeated Washington State 23-14. Ricky Bell set a Pac-8 single-game rushing record, with 347 yards on 51 carries.
The Apple Bowl
The 1977 NAIA Division I football championship played in the Kingdome was called the Apple Bowl. Not to be confused with the Apple Cup which is played for when Washington and Washington State meet on the grid.
Abilene Christian (TX) won the first and only Apple Bowl by defeating Southwestern Oklahoma State 24-7. It was Abilene Christian’s second NAIA national championship in five years. The Spokesman-Review reported that a sparse crowd of 12,980 people were on hand for the game. No surprise since the teams involved were from halfway across the country. After the game, Apple Bowl promoter Jay Gigandet said the Apple Bowl had a 10-year deal to host the NAIA D1 championship. The NAIA denied this and the first Apple Bowl was the last.
The Apple Bowl was a part of a football doubleheader. The NAIA District 1 championship was played in the Kingdome immediately after the Apple Bowl. For more on that game check out below.
Site note: Schools from the state of Texas won nine NAIA D1 football national championships in the 1970s. After the 1970s they didn’t win any. The D1 NAIA football national championship ran from 1970-1996.
Pacific Lutheran was the collegiate king of the Kingdome.
Based on my research, Pacific Lutheran located around Tacoma, WA, can claim they are the college that had played the most games (3) in the Kingdome.
It wasn’t all losses for Pacific Lutheran in the Kingdome. In 1977 they won the NAIA District 1 title in the dome, by defeating Western Washington 24-0. As mentioned above, the game was a part of a Kingdome doubleheader with the Apple Bowl / NAIA D1 national championship.
The Challenge Bowl: Big Ten All-Stars vs. Pacific-8 All-Stars
In 1978 and 1979 the Kingdome hosted a college all-star game called the Challenge Bowl.
The inaugural Challenge Bowl in 1978, featured the best senior players from the Big Ten vs. the best in the Pacific-8. Led by Warren Moon the Pacific-8 won the Challenge Bowl 27-20. The Big Ten was coached by Chicago Bears head coach Jack Pardee, and the Pacific-8 was coached by Seattle Seahawks head coach Jack Patera.
In 1979 the Big Eight replaced the Big Ten in the Challenge Bowl. The Pacific-10 defeated the Big Eight 36-23. Arizona State DB Kim Anderson put on a memorable performance with three interceptions. The linked article made mention of an interesting Challenge Bowl rule. If a team was down by eight points or more, they were to receive the ball again after scoring.
The Big Eight was coached by St. Louis Cardinals head coach Bud Wilkinson, and the Pacific-10 was coached by Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John McKay. The game was broadcast live by the Mizlou TV network.
Have the Washington Huskies ever played a game at the Kingdome?
I couldn’t find any evidence that the Washington Huskies ever played a game at the Kingdome. I suppose they were more comfortable with their on-campus stadium. This year the Seattle Seahawks will share CenturyLink Field with the Huskies.