There’s always at least a modicum of reason for concern when it comes to a college football matchup. So, when I say I was a little worried about this Stanford game, just know that I’m going to be at least a little worried about all the games the rest of the way. College football is wonky as hell! Strange shit can happen at any time.
But, it tends to happen more often in those 7:30pm starts. Pac-12 After Dark or whatever. It’s a thing. Usually, it’s more of a thing in October and November, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t be a thing in the last weekend in September.
Turns out, my concern was unnecessary. We jumped out to a 17-7 halftime lead, bolstered that to a 30-7 lead heading into the final quarter, before easing off the gas a little bit with our 40-22 final score.
Michael “Big Penix Energy” Penix was on his game once again (22/37 for 309 and 2 TDs), but we really got the running game going in this one. Wayne Taulapapa … is a name I just typed out for the first time in my life. Anyway, Taulapapa carried it 13 times for 120 yards and a TD. I know we pride ourselves on our running backs around these parts, but it feels like we haven’t had anyone with any sort of juice since Myles Gaskin. It’s been pretty fallow at this position for a few years now, which I think fully explains our dramatic downturn (and our dramatic revival this year).
Every week, it seems like a new receiver steps up and has a HUGE game. This week, the merry-go-round went with Rome Odunze (8 for 161 and a TD).
What’s crazy is that this game could’ve been so much more of a blowout. We settled for four field goals, and managed to hit them all. I haven’t talked in glowing terms about a Husky kicker in I don’t know how long (maybe ever?), but Peyton Henry (Jinx Alert!) has been perfect on the season. Granted, only one of them has been beyond 40 yards, but you take what you can get from field goal kickers in college. This is his fifth year here and I don’t know how many more he has left in him (what with COVID eligibility and everything), but if he can keep it up, it would be huge.
It’s a shame it’s taken me this long to get to the defense, because they were on point (especially through three quarters). They had 8 sacks, and were absolutely swarming Stanford’s quarterback! It ultimately translated into a couple of fumbles lost as well as a pick. That’s a significant improvement for that side of the ball, that we’ve been longing to see.
This week, we have a Friday night matchup down in UCLA. Our first road game of the season. Not to be the boy who cried wolf or anything, but I’m concerned!
Is that concern justified? We’ll see. The Bruins are also 4-0. But, they played three cupcakes and then Colorado last week (so, four cupcakes then). And they were very nearly upset by one of them, barely eking by South Alabama.
But, clearly, they have a lot of talent. And, even though it’ll still be September when this game is played, it’s another 7:30pm start. Ours is the first game of a murderer’s row for them, as they go on to face the Utes at home and the Ducks on the road. This might be their best chance for a victory.
It also, not for nothing, might be the game they lose the hardest.
I’ll tell you this much: I wouldn’t want to go up against the Huskies right now. This offense looks fucking dynamite! I’ve talked about how lucky we are that we avoided Utah and USC this year, but maybe they’re lucky they avoided us!
The thing is, I don’t know what a Husky loss is going to look like. Is it an abnormal struggle on offense to score points? Does Penix put the ball in harm’s way one too many times? Do we have random bad fumble luck? Are we settling for too many field goals when we should be punching them in for touchdowns?
Or, is our defense a true Achilles’ heel, and we’ve papered over a lot of their deficiencies by getting out to these huge leads every week? What happens when we can’t score early and often? I think that’s it. I think that’ll be our big bug-a-boo. At that point, it’ll be a matter of the offense being down by a single score late and needing to do some things in a hostile environment. Is this that week?
We’re favored by 3. I think that line has considerably moved in Washington’s direction over the last day (didn’t it start at UCLA being favored by 1?). I dunno. There’s a reason why Vegas saw this game as one where UCLA should be ahead of us. The only reason it’s moving so much is because the public is overwhelmingly betting on the Huskies. That REALLY scares me. How much can you trust the public, really? I trust Vegas. I mean, I don’t trust them, but I think they’re generally smarter about these things.
I would stay away from the Huskies. As a Husky fan? Just sit back and enjoy the ride. You don’t want to be caught up in a tense game and also have money at stake. That’s not a great way to head into the weekend.