The chances are remote, but the possibilities are endless for the Washington Huskies, heading into our regular season finale.
At 9-2, the Huskies have alread surpassed our wildest dreams for what this season could be. After a COVID-shortened 2020, and a disastrous 2021 that saw the university clean house, I think most of us had tempered expectations heading into 2022. I wouldn’t have predicted we’d be at the bottom – though I did see that bandied about in some circles – but it felt like a middle-of-the-road kind of year where maybe we’d get to 6-6 and play in a crappy bowl.
So, to have a remote possibility of actually making the Pac-12 Championship Game, and/or somehow making the Rose Bowl, is pretty thrilling!
To get here, I should mention the Huskies just throttled the Buffaloes last week, 54-7. That was after we shocked the world – winning in Oregon – to make all this possible. We’re officially 6-2 in conference, tied with Utah for third. USC is first, at 8-1, and have already clinched their spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They also sit at 6th in the nation, with an outside chance of cracking the college football playoffs (more on that in a bit).
Here are the scenarios, as they stand:
Oregon plays at Oregon State tomorrow at 12:30pm. If the Ducks win, they advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Oregon State is 21st overall, so they’re no pushovers. But, the odds are pretty heavily in favor of the Ducks taking care of business.
Should the Ducks lose, that opens up a cavalcade of possibilities! Most importantly, Washington would advance if they beat Wazzu and UCLA loses at Cal this afternoon. Should the Bruins prevail, the Huskies can still make it with a win and a Utah loss at the hapless Buffaloes. So, that’s why it’s a remote possibility. The Ducks are favored, the Bruins are heavily favored, and the Utes are a shoo-in. My hunch is all three of those teams win and it’s USC at Oregon in the title game.
The Utes could still make it with a victory if the Beavers beat the Ducks, the Huskies beat the Cougars, and the Bruins beat the Golden Bears, which actually isn’t crazy, and is the second-likeliest scenario.
I, as a Husky fan, expect to be bummed out when all is said and done, but not making the Pac-12 Championship Game isn’t the end of the world. Assuming Oregon makes it, and if USC defeats the Ducks to take the conference, there’s a very good chance that the Trojans make the top four and advance to the college football playoffs. At which point, the Huskies – by virtue of having beaten the Ducks – could be selected to represent the Rose Bowl as the second-best team in the Pac-12. That’s a helluva consolation prize! And, arguably, would be an easier path to the Rose Bowl (since there’s no chance whatsoever – even if we beat USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game – that we’d make the college football playoffs).
So, that’s something! If all else fails, though, we’re still a Husky football team looking to get to 10 wins in the regular season, which hasn’t happened since 2016-2018 of the Chris Petersen era. Which is why Kalen DeBoer earned himself a contract extension. He gets two extra years added to his deal – now through the 2028 season – with a $1 million raise added immediately (escalating $100K every year).
The money and everything is pretty meaningless, given that if he keeps doing well, he’ll keep getting extensions and raises. If he does poorly, he’ll be fired. And, if another team wants to buy him out and poach him away, they’ll pay whatever it takes if he proves he’s worth it. But, it’s cool for him to have this happen, and it’s cool for us as fans because that means the Huskies are playing well.
I’m excited – regardless of the post-season outcome – for the Apple Cup this weekend. The Cougs have been hot of late – winners of three in a row – after losing 4 of 5. All of their losses so far have come to ranked teams (Oregon, USC, Oregon State, Utah). The Cougs beat a ranked Wisconsin team early in the year, but at 6-5 the Badgers have sorely disappointed. Nevertheless, I think the Cougs are better than we expected, and could surprise us if we’re not careful. They’ve played most everyone tough – even in their losses – so I would expect this one to be close to the bitter end. I’ve got the Huskies by 3.