It was a dominant effort in all three phases, it was the second such dominant effort in the last two games, and it was the third very good game out of what was once a frustrating, struggling ballclub.
I was pretty hard and pretty down on the coaching staff after that debacle in Arizona. I suppose that’s what happens when you try to shoe-horn meaning into a meaningless contest. The fact of the matter is: beating Arizona wouldn’t have changed a damn thing. Except, I guess, prevent them from playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Considering they might have the best chance of the bunch of teams in the Pac-12 South to actually beat Oregon, it’s probably a GOOD thing we lost! So, nice work, Coach Pete!
While that game will be a tough one for me to shake off the next time we’re in that situation, I have to give the staff credit for turning this season around. And, for holding it afloat for as long as they did.
You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see how this team – that we saw just trounce the Beavers and Cougars – would do against the likes of Hawaii and Eastern Washington. Don’t you wish we could replay those games right now? Don’t you wish we could go back and play Stanford all over again? If we had THIS team to start the season, you might be looking at a 2 or 3-loss group!
Of course, it’s understandable the way things shook out. A whole new coaching staff, a quarterback getting his first shot at being the starter, the same quarterback coming off a suspension that cost him all of the spring practices and the first game of the season. But, to everyone’s credit, from the coaches and players on down, this team really hung tough and got better as the season went along. And, while there’s no big win to hang our hats on, I think I’m still always going to remember this season as the one where the Huskies SHOULD have beaten the team that managed to beat Oregon twice and prevented them from playing in the first-ever 4-team playoff.
As it stands, the Huskies ended the regular season with an 8-5 record, and a 4-5 record in conference. 4-5 puts us in 8th place in the Pac-12. According to the Seattle Times, we’re looking at a Cactus Bowl or an Armed Forces Bowl. The Cactus Bowl features a corresponding team from the Big 12 (someone in the Texas or West Virginia range). The Armed Forces Bowl features a corresponding team from the AAC (someone in the Houston or East Carolina range). I don’t know much about any of those teams, but I’m pretty sure Washington is the most formidable 8th place team in the country, so I say bring it on.
Win or lose the bowl game, I’m pretty happy with how the season went. There’s certainly reason for optimism, even if we’re going to lose a huge chunk of our defense. Here’s to hoping for another strong recruiting class and a big jump in improvement for our young offense.