The phrase 7-6 has been the bane of my existence ever since the end of the 2012 season, when the Huskies finished 7-6 for the third consecutive year. The last thing I want to see is for this trend to continue. Yet, here we are, 6-3, with two road games against UCLA and Oregon State – a couple of the better mid-level teams in the Pac-12. Lose these two games, and that 7-6 monkey on our backs will be howling with laughter, squishing its feces into our ears and humping our armpits.
I want to believe I am seeing improvement in this team, but it’s hard. 2010’s 7-6 season was a pleasant surprise. We won three consecutive games to become bowl eligible, then we handed Nebraska their lunches. That was certainly a positive sign! Then, in 2011, we beat no ranked teams. While Keith Price was awesome, our defense was as bad as it’s ever been, and we ended up getting killed by RGIII and Baylor in the Alamo Bowl. Going into 2012, the offense was encouraging, but our defense was a question-mark at best. Then, 2012 happens and our offense lays an egg. Keith Price takes a step back, while the defense takes a step forward. Once again, we beat a couple of ranked teams (Stanford & Oregon State), but a 3-game mid-season losing streak effectively seals our fate. We lose a heartbreaker in the Apple Cup and another heartbreaker in the Las Vegas Bowl to Boise State. Going into 2013, we’re a little more confident in our defense, but now we’re wondering if Keith Price will even have a job!
To shake things up, the Huskies introduced the up-tempo, no-huddle offense. We started 2013 like a rocket, lost a close one on the road to a very-good Stanford team, and then got pounded by Oregon and Arizona State. After a couple of cream-puffs, the Huskies are at a crossroads. If they can find a way to go into UCLA and Oregon State and come out with victories, then FUCK YEAH, FINALLY! But, if they go out and lose both of those games, then OH GREAT, HERE WE GO AGAIN!
It may not be fair, but these two games effectively define our season. UCLA is the last ranked team we will play (unless the bowl game features a juicy matchup). It would be nice to look back on this season and see that we beat ONE good team (I don’t count Boise State as a good team, BTW). And, if we just split the games, then at least we’re on track (with a win at home in the Apple Cup) for 8 regular season wins, with the possibility for a 9th in a bowl game.
If the Huskies can figure out a way to get to 10 wins, though, then that’s really saying something. In these last couple years, we’ve been The Best of the Rest in the Pac-12. After Oregon, after Stanford, after whoever comes out of the south division, there are the Huskies. Those have been during seasons where the Pac-12 hasn’t made much of a dent; we’ve been a top-heavy conference for quite some time. This year, however, there’s a lot to like about the Pac-12. Yes, there’s still Oregon & Stanford, but also ASU and UCLA. Oregon State was ranked for a minute. Washington was ranked for a few weeks. USC is on the up-tick. Hell, even Utah has its moments, especially with that elite defense!
To be the Best of the Rest in 2013 would really be saying something!
I’m pretty excited to see these next two games. Not because I want to be proven right. But, because I so desperately want to be proven wrong.