When the Huskies beat the Beavers 22-20 on the road, I was knee deep in a Broadway musical in New York called & Juliet. My wife loved it; it might be her new favorite. I thought it was very good, but I’m admittedly not the biggest musical guy in the world, and I still think the Moulin Rouge musical is my favorite. That’s neither here nor there; as this was the first full day of our honeymoon, there was just no way I was going to be able to see this game. And, by all accounts, it seemed like an aggravating, frustrating win that we barely clung to. Zero points in the entire second half! We just couldn’t put ’em away, even though we had ’em dead to rights all game.
The following Saturday, when the Huskies beat the Cougars 24-21 at home, we were on the home stretch of our 7-day cruise. We’d done pretty much everything we wanted to do both on and off the boat, and this was a day dedicated to nothing but relaxation. I read a lot of The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub. And, by the time 4pm rolled around, it was wet and freezing outside where the giant poolside television lived. On Thanksgiving, they had been showing ample football games, so hypothetically I could’ve asked them to put on the Apple Cup. But, luckily, one of the cable channels had it in our room, so I was able to watch it from the warmth and comfort of my bed.
This was another one of those games, man, I don’t know what to tell you. Just so annoying! I was particularly pissed off right before half, when we could do nothing with our 2-minute offense, and the Cougs immediately rammed it down our throats to tie it at 14-all at the break. We managed exactly one impressive drive in the second half to go up 21-14, but then it took basically a miracle 4th & 1 call where Penix tossed it back to Odunze on the end-around – rather than hand it off to Dillon Johnson for a second consecutive run stuff up the middle – for a 23 yard gain to help set us up for the game-winning field goal.
The Huskies are 12-0, but damn, it doesn’t feel like an undefeated season. It feels HARD. Overly complicated. We haven’t had an easy, runaway victory by over 10 points since Week 4 vs. Cal. They haven’t all been world-beaters! I keep seeing ASU and Stanford and Wazzu getting DESTROYED, yet here are the Huskies barely scraping by. THIS is a team that’s supposed to beat the Ducks a second time? THIS is a team that’s supposed to contend for a national championship?
It makes me wonder how we beat the Ducks in the first damn place. What have they done since their only loss of the season? They’ve proceeded to win by an AVERAGE of 26 points per game the last six weeks. Other than their loss to us, they have just two games decided by single digits (the closest being 8 points). It almost blows my mind at this point that we were even able to hang with them, let alone prevail. Every team we’re eking out victories against, they’re rolling over like a fucking monster truck.
I just don’t get it. You can’t even really blame it on the game being in Seattle, because we also beat them last year down in Eugene, and these are pretty much the same teams year over year. It makes me wonder: did the Ducks get some infusion of talent after their only loss of the year, that helped them go on this run? Was it a fluke that we beat them in the first place? Are we poised to go down to Las Vegas and get destroyed?
It sure feels like it. It’s a real shame, because we’ve managed to claw our way up to #3 in the AP Poll, passing Florida State (#4), Oregon (#5), and Ohio State (#6) who lost to #2 Michigan last weekend. The only other viable playoff candidates at this point are Texas at #7 and Alabama at #8 (ranked as such – even though both have one loss – because the Longhorns defeated the Crimson Tide).
Given the way we’ve played the majority of this season, it feels like this week is a Must Win. We can’t afford to be a 1-loss team, because we’ll almost certainly be leaped over by any number of teams. It’s kind of interesting – for a moment – to see what it would take. Georgia over Bama, Louisville over Florida State, Oklahoma State over Texas, and maybe even Iowa over Michigan! That’s a lot. But, because I’m always going to believe that the Buckeyes would make it over us (both teams having 1 loss), it might be necessary, and even then, they could always side with Michigan over us as well and have two teams from the Big 10 in the playoffs.
I’ll be honest, I know every Husky fan is out there touting this line (Oregon -9.5) as the ultimate disrespect, which we’ll hopefully parlay into the extra motivation we need to truly crush them, but I dunno. I think we’re gonna lose. And I don’t even think it’s going to be particularly close.
There’s something that just isn’t quite right with this Husky team, and I can’t put my finger on it. The offense has looked legitimately terrible for long stretches of some of these games. Then, they do what they did against USC and Stanford, and you think everything’s okay again. The defense looked abysmal in those games, and the first half of Utah, making you wonder if that’s going to be our undoing. Then, they come out and shut teams down for long stretches.
But, when was our last Complete Game? It’s been two straight months of being the cardiac kids, and it’s starting to drain my confidence.
I should also point out that me and my friends are planning on watching the game together, which rarely – if ever – goes well for us. In the big games, that is. In the games that truly matter. But, I know that’s all in my head. We’ve been together for big wins in the past. And we’ve been apart for plenty of devastating losses. I’m no weak-willed motherfucker! I’m not going to let that stand in the way of a good time!
It’s also kind of a shame that Michael Penix’s Heisman Trophy chances have dwindled to almost nothing. He’d need to win this game and put up a monster performance in doing so, but I just don’t see it. Dillon Johnson has become too important to our chances, and part of me feels like Penix is hiding some sort of nagging injury that is sapping his usefulness.
You know what’s a bad sign heading into the Pac-12 Championship this Friday? When you try to point out Oregon’s weaknesses and you say, “Well, I guess their kicker is shaky”. That’s all you got? Granted, he missed a pretty important kick in the first game, but if he’s the only weakness, I got news for you: this game won’t come down to a field goal.
I just think, you know, we can’t have nice things. We can run the table in the regular season and that’s all well and good, but we can’t beat a team like Oregon twice in the same year. That’s asking too much. We know each other too well by this point, they’re our most hated of all-time rivals, so of course they’re going to kick our asses when it matters most. We’ll have to settle for some other New Years Power Six bowl and maybe get our 13th victory that way.
But, it won’t come this week. I’m resigning myself to it now; I suggest you do the same.