A quick look at the 2012 schedule.
Sep. 1 – San Diego State
Sep. 8 – @ LSU
Sep. 15 – Portland State
Sep. 22 – Bye
Sep. 27 – Stanford
Oct. 6 – @ Oregon
Oct. 13 – USC
Oct. 20 – @ Arizona
Oct. 27 – Oregon State
Nov. 2 – @ Cal
Nov. 10 – Utah
Nov. 17 – @ Colorado
Nov. 23 – @ Washington State
The first thing anyone looks at is the start of the Pac-12 part of the schedule. Vs. Stanford, @ Oregon, vs. USC. Even without Andrew Luck, those look like three tough matchups. But, I would argue the Huskies have a better chance of beating Stanford in that first game than we do of going down to Arizona and taking out the Wildcats after our USC game! Don’t ask me why, but I’m expecting better things out of that Arizona team than we saw in 2011.
Here’s what really matters in all of this: going 2-1 in those non-conference games. That simply HAS to happen! It’s pretty reasonable to expect the Huskies to go 4-1 in our final five games (vs. Oregon State, @ Cal, vs. Utah, @ Colorado, @ WSU), but if we give up a cheap one to a team like San Diego State, that could set a bad tone for the rest of the season.
On the Glass Is Half-Full side of things, it’s hard for me to be discouraged about the way this season ended. Yeah, our defense was terrible, but on the plus side: there’s no way it can be any WORSE. You gotta figure by the simple act of changing the defensive coordinator, we’re looking at some kind of bump. And our offense is ALWAYS going to be able to keep us in games next season.
Great offensive teams are pretty scary for anyone. LSU has to be looking at our game and wondering just what they got themselves into. Let’s face it, I don’t think there’s a team out there that will hold us under 20 points next season, not even the vaunted LSU Tigers defense.
If I had to guess, at this very-early time, I’d say our season is going to look like this:
Win vs SDSU, Loss @ LSU, Win vs PSU, Win vs. Stanford, Loss @ Oregon, Loss vs. USC, Loss @ Arizona, Win vs. OSU, Loss @ Cal, Win vs. Utah, Win @ Colorado, Win @ WSU. 7-5 record, Sun Bowl. I’m pretty sure that scenario is the safest of all scenarios out there, and I’m pretty sure it’s also the one that will make the least amount of people happy (aside from actually, you know, taking a step back and missing the bowl game entirely; although, in that case, you would have to assume major injuries to major players, in which case, was it really the coaching staff’s fault to begin with?).
For me, I’m never really going to get all happy or depressed about a schedule regardless of what it is. You play who you play and that’s all there is to it. Getting upset because certain games are ordered a certain way (either front-loaded with hard games, or back-loaded with hard games) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
However, as a fan who regularly attends games, there’s actually more to like than dislike. For me, I’m always partial to having more home games early (with the higher likelihood of sunniness during tailgates) than in November. So, I get my wish on that count, with 1 of 4 games at home in November and 3 of 4 home games in September (with a bye sandwiched in there).
Of course, that whole argument could be moot given the fact that all home games next season will be played at CenturyLink. I have to imagine tailgate situations this year will be extra-shitty, but I guess I’ll hold judgment until the time comes.
“There’s Always Next Year,” is the siren song of the Loser. Well, Next Year is upon us. Giddyup.