That Arizona State game was a tough one to watch. The Huskies sprinted out to a 17-0 lead on the road – in a place where they haven’t won since dinosaurs roamed the Earth – and proceeded to give it all away to the tune of 27-unanswered. We out-gained them in yards, we had a slight time of possession edge, we beat them up in first downs, our true freshman quarterback had a 405-yard passing day … it all seemed to be going our way, except for the 4 turnovers we gave away to their 0.
I’m not gonna lie to you, that would’ve been a good monkey to get off our backs. A win there would have all-but-assured our being bowl eligible – assuming a win against the inept Oregon State Beavers this weekend – but instead things are in serious doubt.
Before we look ahead, I’d just like to talk about how frustrating things are with this team. It’s not to the point where I’m down on the program, per se. I think the direction of the program is trending mightily upward. We’re IN most of these games! We barely lost on the road against a ranked Boise State team in the opener (a feat that looked much better at the time than it does now, but that’s neither here nor there); we lost by one score against Cal and Oregon (maybe a bounce here or there turns the tables); we hung in there against a very tough Utah team (we can only speculate how that game would’ve ended had it been officiated properly); we beat a ranked USC team on the road (and practically drove their head coach to ruin) and thrashed what appeared to be a solid Arizona team (bowl eligible, in spite of their unimpressive conference record). If a few things end up differently, who knows? Maybe it’s the Huskies competing for a shot at the Pac-12 title game. Even taking things as they happened, though, you still have to like how things are shaping up in the immediate years to come.
Which is why it would be so very unfortunate if this team didn’t get a crack at a bowl game. You want that extra game and all of those extra practices when you’ve got a young, talented team like this. You want as much time as you can get with the coaches, to work on improving technique and whatnot. At 4-6, the Huskies have to win out. The game at Oregon State feels like a sure thing (the Beavers are 0-7 in conference and 2-8 overall; clearly the worst team in the conference), though it has a chance to be one of the tougher games we play. For the Beavers, this game against the Huskies is probably their last chance to get a conference win (they’re at home, and their final game is in Eugene against the superior Ducks), so I’m sure they’re going to be fighting tooth and nail to notch a victory against the Dawgs.
Should the Huskies get past the Beavers this weekend, we return home for the Apple Cup on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Cougs are already bowl eligible, with their 7-3 record. And, while they’re mathematically eliminated from participating in the Pac-12 Championship Game, they still have a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2003, which would be huge for a program that hasn’t had a winning record since that very same season. Tack on the fact that they’ve lost the last two Apple Cups (and 5 of the last 6), there’s no shortage of reasons for why they’ll be up for this game. I’ve been dreading this game since before the season even started, as Luke Falk looked like a future superstar in waiting. With over 4,000 yards passing already (with 2 games to go), he’s made good on that promise. Needing to win this game to make a bowl is my worst nightmare come to life. I just hope our defense has what it takes.
First thing’s first, gotta beat the Beavers. It shouldn’t be a problem, but then again, there’s a reason why they don’t play these games on computers.