I’ll get around to talking about the Seahawks game eventually – as even though I was in Anaheim for a weekend trip to Disneyland, I still managed to watch all the sports I could handle – but first thing’s first.
My dad, brother and I went to Disneyland proper on Friday and got out of it pretty much everything we could have expected, given the circumstances. No Critter Country meant no Splash Mountain, which was a disappointment, but other than that we had an opportunity to do everything we came there to do.
Saturday, as always, was reserved for Disneyland California Adventure, which should really just change its name to Pixarland and get it over with, but that’s neither here nor there. We like California Adventure all right, but it’s no Disneyland proper. Soarin’ is a fun one to do once per trip. Grizzly River Run is usually a favorite, but it was down for repairs when we were there. Radiator Springs Racers is absolutely as much fun as everyone says it is (and was new to us, so we made it a priority to hit this one first). But, I could take or leave pretty much every other ride over there.
Saturday, also, was the day of the big Husky game in Utah. The 17th-ranked Utes would be our last big test until the Apple Cup, and given how disappointing the power schools in the Pac-12 have been thus far (Stanford 5-3, USC 5-3, UCLA 3-5, Oregon 3-5), we need as many big wins as we can get to put our resume up against these other power schools like Alabama, Michigan, and Clemson. Likewise, if we hope to have even a SHRED of a chance of making the top 4 as a 1-loss team (which I still contend is impossible), beating the second-best Pac-12 team (Utah) was an absolute must.
The closer we got to gametime, the more I wanted to find a way to watch it live, rather than try to catch snippets on my phone while waiting in line for some ride I didn’t necessarily care about. Or furiously refresh Twitter every two seconds for updates. I mean, let’s face it, this isn’t your average, ordinary college football season. If the Huskies were 5-2 instead of 7-0 going into this game, I wouldn’t have thought twice: I would have gone to California Adventure as planned and had a wonderful time.
Instead, my dad and I saddled up to a bar in the ESPN Zone and I pounded Bud Lights and buffalo wings for three hours.
I’ll tell you what, I don’t regret the decision one bit! It more or less played out as expected, which was full of huge momentum swings, and was close up to the very end. And, as expected, the better team won.
My first impression is that Joe Williams – Utah’s running back – is an absolute stud as advertised. He was coming off of a 332-yard performance against UCLA, and my thinking was that Washington’s defense would keep him in check. Not so fast, though: he had 35 carries for 172 yards, and kept the Utes in this ballgame when they were down 14 early. They rode him into a lot of 2nd & 3rd & manageables, which allowed them to keep a lot of drives going (6 of 16 on third down). Eventually, we were so focused on the run, we let Troy Williams (ex-Husky) start to get going in the second half, after a miserable first half.
All in all, it’s hard not to come away impressed with this Utah football team. I fully expect them to be back in the Pac-12 Championship Game, which should be an all-time great.
If there is indeed a Washington/Utah rematch, the Huskies are going to need more out of Jake Browning. He’d been throwing more balls into tough coverage lately than you like to see, and it bit him once in this game with an interception that led to Utah’s first score of the day. That was a pretty huge play in the game, considering it was 14-0 at the time, and another Husky TD might have put the game out of reach before they even got started. All in all a pretty pedestrian day out of Browning, with only 2 touchdowns and 186 yards passing. A missed opportunity for the #2 guy on many Heisman Trophy ballots to make up some of the gap between him and #1.
John Ross had an awesomely efficient day with 2 of his 4 catches going for TDs. Myles Gaskin and the running game in general really carried the load. Gaskin ended up with 151 yards on only 19 carries (7.9 average) and a TD, while Lavon Coleman added 60 yards on only 8 carries (7.5 average).
Of course, the hero of the day goes to Dante Pettis, with the game-winning 58-yard punt return touchdown with a little over 3 minutes left in the game. Sure, there could have been up to three different players called for illegal blocks in the back, but they weren’t, so shut up!
From that point, all the defense had to do was keep them out of the endzone, and they pulled it off. The Huskies maintained their #4 ranking in both polls (with Louisville hard on their heels), while Utah actually went UP in the AP poll (and stayed where they were in the Coaches poll), to land at #16 in both polls. On top of that, 6-2 Colorado remains ranked (at 4-1 in conference, we would only play them if they make the Pac-12 Championship Game), and 6-2 Washington State have finally cracked the rankings at #25! If both Washington and Washington State win this week, it’ll be guaranteed that one of us will win the Pac-12 North, so that’s pretty exciting.
On deck for this week is the game in Cal. Cal handed Utah their only other loss on the season, as well as defeated the Texas Longhorns (who just this past week beat #8 Baylor), but the Golden Bears also somehow lost to Oregon State and Arizona State, so I have no idea. They have one of the best passing attacks in the nation and average 41.3 points on offense per game; but they have one of the world’s worst defenses, giving up 41.8 points per game. Considering the Huskies have a clear advantage on defense, and should be good-enough on offense, this Saturday’s game should be interesting, but ultimately send the Huskies back to Seattle at 9-0.
Nevertheless, don’t think for a minute I won’t be white-knuckling it all week.