Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2021: Staving Off Elimination

It’s not over, but Snoopy & Prickly Pete avoided a guaranteed last place finish by eking one out over Korky Butchek in the Toilet Bowl, 126.15 to 125.10.

This one looked REALLY solid as I headed into Monday Night Football with over an 80% chance of winning. I was trailing by around 15 points, but Korky had no more guys going, while I had Taylor Heinicke and D.K. Metcalf. Each player by themselves was projected to outscore my deficit. But, there I was, needing 4 points with a quarter left to play. There I was, needing 2.5 points with four minutes left to play. There I was, with a touchdown pass by Heinicke that was overturned with just over two minutes to go! And, there I was, right after that, needing just one catch for two yards out of D.K. Metcalf on the Seahawks’ final drive of the game. To that point, he had zero catches for zero yards on, I believe, just one target (he had zero targets heading into the second half, which is batshit crazy to me).

Thankfully, on that last drive, Metcalf had 1 reception for 13 yards, which was plenty for me to work with, even with Heinicke losing a rushing yard on the kneel down to end the game.

Clearly, with my team’s output, there wasn’t a lot to celebrate this past week. However, Javonte Williams – in my first game with him since the trade – put up 20.1 points, which is VERY encouraging. Even moreso, Mac Jones put up 28.6 to lead the way for my team. The move of the week – that won it for me – was picking up Houston’s defense. They only scored 12 points, but the Rams only scored 1 for my bench; it’s about time a move like that paid dividends.

It’s good too, because Korky’s kicker obnoxiously put up 21 points. Losing because an opposing kicker scores 21 is reason enough to never want kickers in the league; I’ve been fighting that losing battle for years, and I’ll continue to rage against the randomness of kicker scoring.

The victory puts me in a tie with Korky Butchek for last place, with a 3-9 record. However, he’s got a 50-point advantage over me. Which means either I need to keep pace with him record-wise – and outscore him by 50 points in the process – or I need to beat him by a game somewhere in the final two weeks of the regular season.

So, you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance!

This week, I go up against Toot Cannons; here’s who I’m looking to go with:

  • Mac Jones (QB) @ BUF
  • Taylor Heinicke (QB) @ LV
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) @ NO
  • Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. BAL
  • Javonte Williams (RB) @ KC
  • Alexander Mattison (RB) @ DET
  • Mike Gesicki (TE) vs. NYG
  • D.K. Metcalf (WR) vs. SF
  • Ryan Succop (K) @ ATL
  • L.A. Rams (DEF) vs. JAX

Big news this week, as Dalvin Cook is injured and figures to miss a couple games. Mattison has been riding my bench ever since it looked like Cook might get suspended for domestic violence, and I’ve seen no reason to give up on that because Mattison is easily the most valuable backup running back in football. It’s for weeks like these where you want to have him. Against the Lions, he should feast. I’m benching Ezekiel Elliott this week because there’s been chatter of the Cowboys resting him. Even if he plays, though, the Saints have one of the best rush defenses in football. I could see him being more decoy than actual offensive asset; we’ll see if my gamble pays off. I’m kind of all in on Williams at this point, plus I absolutely HAVE to believe D.K. is in for a big game at some point. My dynasty kind of depends on it.

Toot Cannons has an extremely strong team, as you’ll see below:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ HOU
  • Kyler Murray (QB) @ CHI
  • Justin Jefferson (WR) @ DET
  • Mike Williams (WR) @ CIN
  • Najee Harris (RB) vs. BAL
  • Saquon Barkley (RB) @ MIA
  • Dallas Goedert (TE) @ NYJ
  • Tee Higgins (WR) vs. LAC
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. DEN
  • San Francisco (DEF) @ SEA

He’s also got Tua, who has looked halfway competent at times! Certainly better than most of the QBs on my roster. And, he’s got Myles Gaskin as insurance off his bench. It’s going to be a tall order; Toot Cannons is 7-5 and has weathered the storm of the Murray injury over the last month. He looks to be in great shape to make a playoff run. Meanwhile, I’m fighting for my life to avoid last place.

In the spirit of Scoreboard Watching, Korky Butchek will be going up against The Lance Petemans this week. Lance is 5-7 and on the outside-looking-in on a playoff spot in seventh place. He has something to play for, so I’m hoping he’s up to the challenge of keeping me alive for Not Last Place.

Splinter League Round-Up!

BUCK FUTTER had an unimpressive victory over Chubby Dumplings to keep my hold on third place. More importantly, we knocked Chubby to a game back in the standings. The first place team also lost, which means I’m now just a game back of the top spot, all with three weeks to go. Next week, I get to play that erstwhile first place team (who fell to second, based on total points scored) for a chance to leapfrog him and try to cement my spot in the 4-team playoffs. I’ll have to do it without Aaron Rodgers, who has really been carrying me this year; thankfully, I was on top of stashing Mattison in all my leagues, so he should provide a boost for three teams I know and care about!

It Sure Would Be Stupid If The Seahawks Lost To The Dolphins

The Seahawks are good and the Dolphins are bad. There, that’s all the analysis you really need for why they’ll go into Miami, play a football game, and return to Seattle victorious.

(one of these times, I’m really going to write a 2-line preview and post it to the Internet as is; this won’t be one of those times though)

To extrapolate further, the Seahawks have Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson is the best football player on the planet. He throws footballs to guys like Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. The Dolphins don’t have anyone who can cover them on a consistent basis. Russell Wilson should continue to throw lots of touchdowns to guys like Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in this game. More touchdowns, indeed, than the Dolphins should manage to score, even against our crappy defense. Ergo, the Seahawks will win and I’ll be happy.

It hardly feels necessary to give an alternate viewpoint. This isn’t Both Sides Journalism! Why should I sit here and espouse beliefs that are contrary to my own?

Well, I’ll tell you, there’s something rotten in my brain. If I poke my finger in there, I can feel it. It’s gritty and black, and if I dig around, it chips away like warm, soft brown sugar. This bitter old nag resides there, second-guessing everything. The more sure I am of impending good fortune, the louder she hisses. And if I don’t get it all out of me and write it down somewhere, she becomes this booming, caustic I Told You So factory if the unthinkable should happen. How could you be so stupid?! You know you’re not allowed to have nice things! What’s the matter with you?!

So, here’s a quick list of things I’m worrying about:

  • The Seahawks have LOTS AND LOTS of injuries
  • Including Jamal Adams, who probably won’t play
  • Including Chris Carson, who probably shouldn’t play
  • Including a fuckload of the rest of our secondary, who will at least be hampered
  • The defense is terrible even at full strength
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick is pretty mediocre, but sometimes he has crazy games where he throws for 350+ yards and racks up tons of points
  • The game is on the road, the furthest you can get from home while still being in the Lower 48 states (this could, if nothing else, account for a slow start, as I don’t believe we’re arriving in South Florida until sometime Saturday)

I dunno, that’s probably it. I actually don’t know much about the Dolphins. Is their defense good? Probably not. I think the Patriots ran all over them. And the Bills scored four touchdowns. The Dolphins beat the Jags pretty handily, but that was a Thursday Night game and those are usually a little one-sided. That’s another thing to worry about, though: the Dolphins are extra rested with the 10 days off since their previous game.

The Dolphins give up a lot of yards – both passing and rushing – but seem to give up relatively few points (small sample size, with all of three games happening). At least the Seahawks seem to be able to slow down opposing rushing attacks, which is something (especially since former Husky Myles Gaskin is a new star for them this year). They’re middle-of-the-road in generating sacks, so that’s not too scary.

I dunno. It just seems like A LOT would have to go wrong for the Seahawks to blow this. Like, trying to force things on offense, rather than doing what we’ve been doing so far and taking what’s being given to us. Careless mistakes, penalties getting us behind the sticks, maybe a fumble or two that bounces against us? I’m grasping at straws here.

It feels like losing this game would be something the OLD Seahawks would’ve done. Letting the Dolphins hang around, not converting drives into touchdowns, needing to pull a miracle out of our asses late only to realize there isn’t any magic pixie dust left in our … wands or something?

The bottom line, though, is this is a game the Seahawks SHOULD win. And, honestly, it shouldn’t even be all that close. This should be one of those Get Right games for our defense, where they don’t look like the absolute fucking worst in all of football. It should be something like 34-12, where if we were really trying in the fourth quarter, we could’ve easily hit 40+ points, but we decide to predominantly rush the ball to drain clock and get TF out of there in one piece. I would also hope we avoid any more dire injuries, because seriously, they’re sucking my will to live.

That’s all I got. If we lose, you’re going to see one pissy Steven on here on Monday, so let’s try not to muck it up, shall we?

Nobody Wants To Hear About My Fantasy Team 2020: Some Nobody Did, In Fact, Beat The Wiz!

I honestly really don’t mind as much the weeks where there’s literally nothing I could’ve done to improve my chances. Nobody Beats The Wiz went up against a buzzsaw in the form of Korky Butchek. He got it started with a 30-point explosion last Thursday from his Jacksonville running back, and ultimately ran away with it partway through the morning games on Sunday. I lost 201.85 to 140.63, and none of my batshit tinkering mattered in the slightest.

In fact, one of my better tinkering moves in YEARS came in the form of picking up Indy’s defense, who got me 39 points; easily my best “player” of the week. I otherwise got good games out of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ezekiel Elliott, but they can’t all be abominations I suppose.

I’m not ready to call Daniel Jones a bust, but I’m FULLY prepared to rail against those idiots who are running the New York Football Giants. Why in the holiest of FUCKS would you put so much draft stock in your quarterback and running back – the two most important positions in your offensive attack – and not shore up the offensive line? I mean, ARE you stupid? I legitimately want to know, so I can avoid anything you have any part in from here to eternity!

Otherwise, I’m ready to move on to next week. The Mitch Trubisky Experiment was a collosal bust. Going up against Atlanta’s absurdly inept defense, he was so ineffective that the head coach pulled him in the third quarter (right before Nick Foles led the Bears on a massive comeback to win it late). Carson Wentz took a week off from being in my starting lineup, but I’m ready to kiss and make up. I can’t say he was impressive against the Bungles, but he did outscore my other two quarterbacks (as I figured he would, as soon as I benched him). At this point, I’m just hoping for mediocrity; I’ll settle for that after the disasters I’ve had to endure so far this season.

Now is the part of the column where we talk about my latest round of waiver claims and free agent pick-ups! Of course, I tried to get another quarterback, with Mitch Trubisky effectively fantasy poison. My claims for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Nick Foles were both thwarted, so I settled for 49ers backup Nick Mullens. If he plays this week, I’ll start him over Daniel Jones; if he’s not, then I guess I’m fucked, aren’t I? I did also put in a claim for Vikings first round receiver Justin Jefferson who had a big game last week. They need SOMEONE opposite Adam Thielen to step up in that offense, and he looks like the likeliest candidate. Considering the Vikings will frequently be losing in games, they will need to throw quite a bit, so there could be lots of targets and points on the table for me.

I ended up dropping the aforementioned Trubisky, as well as the Washington defense. I’ll be rolling with just the Colts for a while and see how that goes.

Nobody Beats The Wiz is facing off against To Be Named By Casey (who has apparently not gotten around to actually naming this team yet). It’s a battle of 1-2 vs. 0-3! Titans of the fantasy football industry! His team isn’t quite as bad as his 0-3 record might indicate, as he’s suffered a lot of injuries to his primary weapons (a lot of guys who figure to be back in his lineup just in time to face me; thanks fantasy gods!). Not for nothing, but I’m not so sure my team is as GOOD as my one win might indicate! We could be looking at a really long season. Here’s my lineup this week:

  • Carson Wentz (QB) @ SF
  • Daniel Jones (QB) @ LAR
  • Odell Beckham (WR) @ DAL
  • CeeDee Lamb (WR) vs. CLE
  • Ezekiel Elliott (RB) vs. CLE
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB) vs. NE
  • Noah Fant (TE) @ NYJ
  • Josh Jacobs (RB) vs. BUF
  • Harrison Butker (K) vs. NE
  • Indianapolis (DEF) @ CHI

Mullens I’ve already talked about; I’m all for putting him into my lineup if he’s starting this week. I have three non-IR receivers on my bench right now, but none of their matchups look particularly good. My team is what it is, I just need guys to perform. Here’s my opponent:

  • Kyler Murray (QB) @ CAR
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB) vs. SEA
  • Mike Evans (WR) vs. LAC
  • Michael Thomas (WR) @ DET
  • Joe Mixon (RB) vs. JAX
  • Myles Gaskin (RB) vs. SEA
  • Mark Andrews (TE) @ WAS
  • Darren Waller (TE) vs. BUF
  • Robbie Gould (K) vs. PHI
  • Chicago (DEF) vs. IND

He also has Derek Carr at quarterback, but given their matchup against the Bills, it makes much more sense to play Fitzpatick against the hapless Seahawks defense. His receivers are elite; my only hope is Michael Thomas hasn’t fully returned from his ankle injury and he’s used more as a decoy. Mark Andrews had a bad game against the Chiefs on Monday Night, so look for him to score three touchdowns against Washington. The other flex spot could go to a number of guys, but I see Waller in there now, so figure he’s as good as anyone.

I have zero reason for confidence that Nobody Beats The Wiz can win this week or ever again! It’s grim, folks! I have three running backs I like and that’s about it! I mean, at some point you have to ask yourself when this failing fantasy franchise is going to fire its general manager (me) and find someone more competent to take over the job!

The Washington Husky Football 2018 Season In Review

Chris Peterson’s first year here was in 2014, the team was full of Sark holdovers, and we were just okay. We finished third in the Pac-12 North and lost in the Cactus Bowl to OK State. 2015 feels like the REAL first year of the Coach Pete regime, as his guys started trickling into the lineup. Most notably: Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin.

It’s been four years with that duo intact, and they’ve been four of the most successful years in the program’s history. 38-12 in the regular season, including 2 conference championships and 3 major bowl games. Now, unfortunately, in that span the Huskies are 1-3 in the post-season, having lost all 3 of those major bowl games, in pretty decisive fashion.

The 2018 Husky Football team was both a rousing success and a disappointment. And, I think you can say that about the entire Browning/Gaskin era.

The one constant throughout Coach Pete’s tenure has been tremendous defense, particularly in the secondary. There’s always been at least one stud interior lineman, and there’s usually some very solid linebacker play, but the secondary is where the defense’s bread is buttered. In an era where passing attempts are increasing by the year, this has been a boon to our program.

It’s unfortunately been the offense that’s been too inconsistent – especially in those big games – to take this team over the hump. And, when you figure Myles Gaskin is the Husky career rushing yards and touchdowns leader, it’s not hard to see where this is going.

I wanted to put some distance between this post and the Rose Bowl, so I could calm down and see things a little more rationally. The truth is, the Huskies wouldn’t have won double-digit games the last three seasons if Jake Browning was a bum. He’s the Husky leader in career passing yards and touchdowns by a pretty significant margin. While he won’t go down as the the greatest Husky quarterback of all time in the eyes of most fans, he has to at least be in every conversation based on his numbers and this team’s overall success alone.

But, his big hang up was always his performance in the big games, and as a byproduct, the team’s success in those games. That’s just the life of a quarterback; it’s not fair. They get the lion’s share of the praise when things are going well, and the lion’s share of the blame when they’re not.

You can go through the schedule and try to nitpick that argument, choosing his all-time best performances in some of our important victories. But, more often than not, his greatest games came against nothing defenses where we were able to run up the score. 8 total touchdowns (6 passing, 2 rushing) in that rout of Oregon in 2016; 378 yards and 6 TDs against a garbage Cal team a few weeks later; nearly 300 yards and 3 TDs in that year’s Apple Cup (which was a total blowout by halftime, in large part due to our defense). I could go on and on; but name me one where Browning took this team on his shoulders and pulled our asses out of the fire late in the game against a quality opponent. You won’t find many; you might not even find any.

The Huskies were 7-7 in one-score games the last three years, and so many of those losses were just huge. They were the result of our defense keeping us in it, while our offense fiddled around for most of the game. You stop the Husky rushing attack – and put the game on Browning’s shoulders – and you’re most likely going to have success.

The real disappointing thing about the last three years – and 2018 in particular – is that the jump in Browning’s game from his Freshman to Sophomore year was outstanding! In 2015, he looked like a true Freshman should look, but he got better as the season progressed, and there was real hope for the future. Then, in 2016: an explosion! We were a 1-loss team that was playing Alabama in the College Football Playoffs! He threw for 3,430 yards and a whopping 43 touchdowns! He was in the Heisman conversation for a little bit!

With the hot recruits continuing to flood into the program, it was only a matter of time before we got back there, and maybe even played for a national title!

Then, there was just a huge step back in 2017, as a lot of our offensive weapons moved on. We were still good, but with two conference losses, we were iced out of the conference championship game. Still, a Fiesta Bowl against an elite Penn State program was a nice consolation prize. But, much like this year’s Rose Bowl, we were late to the party and there wasn’t enough time to complete our comeback.

The hope was that we could use those lessons to better ourselves in 2018. Maybe Browning – who finished 2016 injured – wasn’t quite at full strength in 2017. Hopefully THIS would be the year he’d make the next step up into that elite QB realm.

But, right off the bat, we couldn’t get out of our own way that first week against Auburn, and it felt like the college football playoffs were already out of reach. Considering how it eventually shook out – with the teams who would go on to make the final four, combined with how disappointing Auburn and the Pac-12 eventually proved to be – the Huskies could’ve won out and it’s not a guarantee that we would’ve made it.

Nevertheless, a heartbreaker in Oregon (which wasn’t his fault), and an unforgivable loss against Cal (which was at least partially his fault, as the coach felt it prudent to bench him for part of it), really sunk this season about as far as it could go. We were able to pull out of the nosedive with a 4-game winning streak, including a gutty performance against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game. But, that just put us in a position where we were nearly embarrassed against the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. As it stands, no one even remembers we were in that game; they just remember it as Urban Meyer’s final college game (for now) and that of course he beat whoever the other team was!

I’m not saying it was all bad, or all disappointing, with Jake Browning at the helm. I’m just saying that there really isn’t any significant, signature win. His most memorable game is probably that one down in Oregon to end The Streak, where we racked up 70 points. That’s all well and dandy, but that Ducks team was a disaster and ended the season with all of 4 wins (2 in conference).

There was a lot of hope for the Jake Browning years, but not very much realization of that hope.

Looking ahead, obviously the Huskies of 2019 are going to look drastically different. Here are the notable outgoing Seniors:

  • Jake Browning
  • Myles Gaskin
  • Kaleb McGary
  • Drew Sample
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Greg Gaines
  • Tevis Bartlett
  • Jordan Miller
  • JoJo McIntosh
  • Shane Bowman

On top of that, Byron Murphy (a Sophomore) and Taylor Rapp (a Junior) have already declared for the NFL. Still undecided, apparently, is Myles Bryant. While there are lots of DBs looking to fill the gap, those are still some HUGE holes to fill! But, if you look at the way this team has recruited, and how highly-rated these classes have been, I think there’s only good things ahead.

It’s been super fun the last three years, all things considered. I’d like to think, as time goes on, I’ll think back fondly, with just a tiny amount of wistfulness of what could’ve been.

Of course, if this team ends up going where I think it can go, we might look back at this era as the beginning of something truly great!

The Huskies Lost The Rose Bowl

It was a fun trip, with a not-very-fun result.

Purple vs. Red

My one recommendation, if you’re travelling down to the Los Angeles area: if it makes sense geographically, try your best to fly into and out of the Burbank airport, because it is PHENOMENAL! It’s probably the smallest airport I’ve ever been in, which has to be about 95% of the reason by itself. I’ve never in my life had a quicker, smoother TSA experience. Even WITH the requisite pat-down and hand-wiping, I was through security in about two minutes. No line whatsoever, just a single 2-child family ahead of me. I’d say if there’s one downside to the Burbank airport – at least as far as my experience was concerned – is that the only restaurant was one of those Guy Fieri joints. I thought I’d play it safe and go with the barbecue buffalo wings (because if I can live my entire life not knowing what “donkey sauce” is, I feel I’ll have lived my best life), but they were more bone than meat! I don’t know what animal they got these wings off of, but I’m assuming it was something in the wren family?

I bought the tickets for this flight the night of the Apple Cup. I got the insurance – which I’m not sure I could’ve even used, had I needed to cancel – and just banked on the Huskies beating the Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If we had lost, and I couldn’t get my money back for the flight, I still might’ve gone, but it would’ve been a pretty pointless little trip without a football game involved.

I flew out the morning of Monday, December 31st, arriving in Burbank around 11am. From there, I met up with some friends as we got lunch, picked up our Husky Alumni Tailgate tickets, and got a couple six packs of beer to drink while watching the other bowl games on TV. We ended up ordering in Thai food for dinner, and celebrating the 9pm Pacific Time ball drop with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine from the hotel bar. We had an early start to the new year in store, so there was no time to screw around!

We headed out to the Rose Parade around 8am, and were able to see anywhere from 60-90 minutes worth of floats and marching bands and whatnot. Considering we didn’t have tickets for the bleacher seats, I think we did pretty well for ourselves. Around 9:30am, we set out on foot for a good, long hike to the Husky Tailgate. From 10am to 1pm, it was all you can eat hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream, nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, and whatever else they had on hand. It was also all you can drink IPAs, Miller Lites, and whatever other alcohol they had in stock. I don’t remember what the tickets cost, but we more than got our money’s worth.

It was staged on a golf course near the stadium, and they really did it up right. Nice, large space, with plenty of booths and room to stand around. Lines were short for the most part, and things really went smoothly.

At some point in the one o’clock hour, we headed into the Rose Bowl, getting there in plenty of time for the game to start. At this point, I couldn’t tell you what actually happened on the field, because my brown out game was on point this day. I know I left during the game, presumably with the goal of finding some way to get back to the hotel room. It turned into me walking until I was sober enough to form coherent words with my mouth again, at which point I pieced together my destination from a photo of the hotel address I took the day before. I ended my New Years Day on the couch in our suite, having wolfed down a bunch of pizza, watching the end of the Texas/Georgia game, followed by a New Girl marathon on TBS.

The Rose Bowl in itself was what any of us could’ve predicted coming into this thing: the Huskies started off miserably slow, the defense pulled it together in the second half, allowing the offense enough opportunities to make a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, only to fall short thanks to an unsuccessful onside kick. Jake Browning had a whatever game, Myles Gaskin put in a Herculean effort with 121 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, but in the end we lost 28-23. Much like the Penn State game last year, if we could’ve chopped off the first quarter, and added a fifth quarter to this game, I think we would’ve won.

I’m sure I’ll have a more definitive recap of the 2018 Husky football season at some point in the coming days, but obviously this is a disappointing end. ALMOST as disappointing as my decision to take the 1:30pm flight back to Seattle yesterday. I can’t properly enjoy the final day of a vacation when I know I have to be at the airport, so I ended up getting there RIDICULOUSLY early and sitting around for about 3 hours before takeoff. At which point, I got to Seattle right in the heart of rush hour traffic, adding an unnecessary rush hour commute home to what was otherwise a delightful 9 days off of work.

The Huskies Won The Apple Cup (Yet Again), Play For The Pac-12 Championship

Sorry Seahawks, but when my team beats the Cougs for the Pac-12 North championship, they get the coveted Monday post!

So yeah, no, I didn’t have a ton of confidence in the Huskies last Friday.  We’ve looked pretty stagnant most of the year – particularly on offense – and we’ve lost a couple games we had no business losing.  Auburn stinks, and that ends up going down as just a painfully bad loss.  Oregon is mediocre at best and that game was absolutely within our grasp.  And I’ll never understand what happened at Cal, but holy hell was that a miserable day.  It all sort of boils down to a senior quarterback never progressing beyond his sophomore year, and a championship-contending team breaking in new play-callers on offense and defense.  Just a fundamental breakdown on all levels.

Meanwhile, there were the Cougars, one loss on the year at USC that probably shouldn’t have been a loss.  Sure, they played nothing but cupcakes in the non-conference slate, but at every turn where the Cougs normally Coug it up, instead they found ways to win.  They endured Utah (which is all you can ever really do with Utah, be it the college football team or the state and its peoples), they dominated Oregon with the light of the nation shining down upon them, then they followed that up with a powerful road win against Stanford.  They took care of business against Cal, that game at Colorado could’ve been a prime Couging opportunity (but instead they won so bad the Buffs fired their head coach), and they destroyed the Wildcats to put themselves in a VERY outside chance of cracking the Top 4.  I still believe that even if the Cougars had won the Apple Cup – even if they’d crushed us – Ohio State would still leap over them in the next rankings, but we’ll never know.  The point is, the fact that the Cougars were so close to the ultimate glory really says a lot about this year’s team.

I know that the Huskies are the HUSKIES and the Cougars are our little buddy or whatever, but if there was ever a year where the David might slay the Goliath, I thought this might be the year.  I’ll admit it, I bought into the hype.  If I was a Coug fan, I ABSOLUTELY would be one of those yahoos wearing the fake Gardner Minshew moustache.  That guy just seems like everything Luke Falk wasn’t:  a guy who could put it all together in a big game.

And we made him look like the Checkdowningest Charlie I’ve ever seen!  26/35 for a measly 152, with 0 TDs and 2 INTs.  What a breathtaking defensive performance, by an elite unit and from again, a first-year defensive play-caller in Jimmy Lake!

The Cougar running backs were their best players – James Williams scored both of their TDs and averaged 5.9 yards per rush – but since it’s a Mike Leach offense, of course their backs only rushed a combined 16 times!  Between JW and Max Borghi, they combined (rushing and receiving) for 164 out of 237 yards of total offense.  They led the team in receptions with 7 apiece, and yet I would argue they were still underutilized!  Mostly because there was probably another 100 yards of rushing they left on the field, but still.  I agree with the primary sentiment coming out of this game:  I hope Mike Leach never leaves!

For the Huskies, it was absolutely the Myles Gaskin show.  27 carries for 170 yards and 3 TDs.  I am SO going to miss this kid, it’s not even funny.  He is everything you could ever want out of a running back.  4 straight 1,000-yard seasons.  I mean, just the fact that he stayed for his senior year says a lot.  What a true, hall of fame Washington Husky!  I mean, I’m ready to retire his number and hang his jersey right now!  Do we even do that?  I dunno, but we should!  And we should start with #9.

Hunter Bryant came alive for 108 yards and a TD on 3 receptions.  After a miserable, injury-riddled season, it’s nice to see him finish with a flourish.  We’ll need him next week and beyond as well, so it’s good to get him into the flow of the offense while we still have him.

Andre Baccellia was, I thought, an under-the-radar MVP of this game.  He doesn’t get the pub of a lot of guys in this offense, but he had 5 catches for 89 yards, and they were all seemingly in huge situations!  I like where this receiver group is at for next year, I’ll tell you that much.

On the defensive side of the ball, I’m starting with Greg Gaines, who was a manimal in the middle.  He ended up with a sack and a few tackles, but he was impactful all night.

Joe Tryon was a name I didn’t recognize, but he had a sack and looked to create a lot of pressure off the end.  If he’s someone we can count on next year, that would really be something.

Finally, BBK, Taylor Rapp, and the rest of that Death Row squad, I can’t wait for you guys to tear shit up at the next level (but, if a few of you underclassmen wanted to stay one more year, I’d love you all the more).

All told, it added up to a snowy 28 to 15 victory in Pullman.  That’s a game I won’t soon forget!

Now it’s on to Santa Clara, where we have a date with the Utah Utes.  Recall we beat them 21-7 in Utah in week 3.  It’s been a long time since that one, and I don’t think things have gotten any easier.  They ended up 9-3, losing to both Washington schools as well as at ASU.  They’re on a 7-1 streak though, and came out of a poor Pac-12 South pretty easily.

Washington lucked out, in that we had an extra day to prepare for them, as they had already locked up the South and had a game against BYU on Saturday.  Considering the Pac-12 Championship Game is on Friday at 5pm for some reason (I guess the Pac-12 doesn’t like eyeballs on their marquee football teams), I’d say we have a marginal edge.

I think the Huskies SHOULD win, but obviously nothing is a given with this team.  Utah and Washington have the two best defenses by a mile in this conference, so I wouldn’t expect a ton of points.  Being clean on special teams is going to be paramount.  Ultimately, it’ll come down to a few big plays, and it’ll come down to which teams make those big plays.  Expect a frustrating, early bone-headed interception by senior quarterback Jake Browning (or, maybe just to fuck with our minds, a LATE bone-headed interception).  But, hopefully we can get Gaskin going and overcome.

I’ll predict a 22-21 Husky victory, as we go for 2 to play for the Rose Bowl at the end of the game.

The Huskies Get A Nice Little Mini-Vacation After A Hard-Fought Win Over Stanford

All I really know about the Husky game on Saturday was that it was an absolutely perfect day from start to finish.

Well, that might be pushing it.  I was pretty severely hungover from a Friday night blitzkrieg with my dad and brother, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from getting up at around 8am, getting a couple of sausage biscuits and hashbrowns from McDonald’s, and willing myself to Seattle from Tacoma for the big day.

We set up our tailgate under the covers at the Padelford lot to protect against the rain, and the Bud Lights were cracked open I want to say before noon.  I had a better-than-average day at the beer pong table, enjoyed one more frosty beverage on our walk to the stadium, and at halftime even managed to take down a couple more at whatever beer garden they have just next to The Zone.  Did we miss some of the third quarter?  Hell, shit happens.

Do I remember much of what happened at the game?  Not totally.  I know this:  Myles Gaskin is a total boss and this team needs him active and doing his thing more than anyone wants to admit.

The Huskies tore it up early, taking a 21-0 lead into halftime before holding on to a 27-23 victory.  Gaskin had 148 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 28 carries, as this team apparently has some really serious concerns at the position heading into next year.  No one else did ANYTHING on the ground in this game, or really much at all this season.

Browning had a nice bounce-back game, albeit pretty nondescript.  194 yards and a touchdown, but more importantly, no real back-breaking mistakes.

The most important thing is just getting the victory.  The Huskies are 7-3 overall, and 5-2 in conference play, putting us right in line for a spot at the Rose Bowl.  We get a much-needed BYE this week before a home game against the Beavers (meaning we get a much-needed 2 BYE weeks in a row).  That should hopefully rest us up for a showdown for the Pac-12 North title against the Cougars in Pullman.  That game will be hyped up like you won’t believe!

The Cougs, to their credit, have done what needs to be done.  They’re 8-1 overall, 5-1 in conference.  They go to Colorado this week, then host Arizona next week.  I haven’t done the tie-breaking, but they could conceivably lose both of those games and still have a shot at the Pac-12 Championship game by winning the Apple Cup (as they should hold the tie-breaker over the Huskies, Cardinal, and Ducks in that scenario).  So, it’s a little weird that there’s so many meaningless games between now and Thanksgiving, but that’s the world we’re living in, I guess.

Right now, my plan is to enjoy the BYE week with a little drunken movie night with friends.  I think we’ve all earned a little rest from worrying about the constant rollercoaster that is this Husky football season.

The Huskies Climbed Back Into Rose Bowl Contention

I love Seahawks BYE weeks, if for no other reason than my beloved Dawgs get to enjoy the Monday spot on my blog.

It was a nice, if sloppy, bounce-back win for the Huskies, as they took care of business against a clearly-inferior opponent.  There were still enough cracks in our own team – on both sides of the ball – to be concerned going forward.  But, this is obviously a win we needed to have, and it keeps hope alive for at least one more week.

My day started out in Seattle bright and early.  There wasn’t any tailgating this week, so I met up at a buddy’s apartment for some pre-game IPA’s before we hit up the light rail to the stadium.  I’m just gonna say this about that:  whoever designed the University of Washington station did SUCH a pisspoor job of designing it.  They need, easily, like 4 more escalator bays; even if they’re not always open and running every day of the week, at least for gamedays.  They didn’t account for the crowds that would 1) show up for Husky football games and 2) use the light rail to get there.  But, it’s a fucking mess.  They can’t let too many people use the too-few escalators at once, otherwise they’ll break down.  So, there are HUGE lines going both up (pre-game) and down (post-game).  And, for whatever reason, they won’t open up the stairwells for fit people with functioning legs to walk up, because they don’t have enough security?  What the shit is that?  Do they think the stairwells are just going to be a kill-crazy free-for-all?  Are Seattleites running a Purge just in the UW lightrail station stairwells?  And, particularly for post-game, would it kill them to put additional cars on these trains to get us out of there in a timely fashion?  As it is, they’re doing the best they can, but they weren’t exactly supplied with all the resources they needed to make this a seamless transition.  You’re hoping that the people will use these modes of transportation to get to places … well, it needs to be a better experience if you want us to CONTINUE using these trains!

Anyway, after that first world problem was somehow conquered, my friends and I were in need of alcohol to soothe our jangled nerves.  Luckily, Husky Stadium now sells alcohol, albeit in certain specific locations.  The Zone is dead to me now, as you apparently need to buy a pass just to get into the area where you buy more food and alcohol.  Any way they can nickel and dime the fans, I suppose.  So, we went to this little beer garden inside the stadium; I guess it’s called Off Leash?  Some kind of play on the whole dawg theme?  Like, dogs take off their leashes and get plastered?

Long story short, we missed most of the first quarter (I wouldn’t say we were missing it, Bob).  The Huskies got the ball first, punted, and Colorado promptly went down and scored, making it 7-0 and making it look easy.  The Huskies finally got their shit together, and had a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.

The defense totally took over the game in the second half, as Colorado didn’t score the rest of the game.  But, the offense struggled to really put them away until late in the contest, finally prevailing 27-13.  Nevertheless, we failed to cover the 17-point spread, and the offense didn’t look particularly great.

Jake Browning didn’t have a whole lot going in this one.  Part of the problem was drops, but also he was wildly off-target on a few as well.  In spite of Gaskin being given the day off (I assume to rest his injured shoulder), the running game did their job.  We ran for 201 yards on a whopping 40 carries, with three different backs sharing the load.

Defensively, we tackled much better today than we have in weeks.  We still didn’t get much in the way of pressure, and are in desperate need for edge rushers to step up in 2018 (it needs to be a point of emphasis for next year as well).  The usual suspects stood out:  BBK led the team in tackles with 15, Greg Gaines was a force in the middle, our secondary made a number of sick plays as we held them to 144 yards passing on 17/28 with a TD and a pick.  But, I wanted to point out number 95, who I noticed flashed on a number of plays in the middle, Levi Onwuzurike, a Sophomore out of Texas.  He had 4 tackles (2 for loss) and our lone sack of the game, in what looked like pretty limited duty.  Gaines is a Senior this year and will be going to the League, so it’s nice to see our interior is in good hands.  I look forward to Levi having a bigger workload next year and REALLY making his presence felt.  When he becomes The Man, don’t forget who pointed it out first!  (it probably was someone who’s much smarter than me and knows a lot more about the Huskies, but I’m also a person!).

Our Saturday got better and better.  Post-game, we went back to my buddy’s apartment to eat some pizza and drink some beer and watch the Cougs take on the Ducks.  And yes, drunken Coug fan with the awesome sign, the Ducks DO Quack Under Pressure!

Thanks to the Huskies blowing it last week, Washington State got to host ESPN Gameday for the first time ever.  And, it looked like the party to end all parties.

The Cougs jumped out to a 27-0 lead at halftime, which only set up the Ultimate Couging Scenario.  Oregon proceeded to mount a comeback in the second half we all knew was coming.  They managed to get it to 27-20 with just under 7 minutes to go in the game; plenty of time to finish the Cougening.  Wazzu started at their own 25 and got down to Oregon’s 34 when it was 4th & 6.  On the previous drive, the Cougs got down to Oregon’s 42 with a 4th & 3 and opted to punt, so I was sure they were going to do something similarly stupid.  At this point (of the 4th & 6), there was just under 5 minutes to go in the game, and thankfully they went for it.  Why punt on 4th & 3 but go for it later on 4th & 6?  Well, according to the announcers, it’s easier for an Air Raid offense to get 8 yards than it is to get 3, so maybe we WEREN’T listening to the dumbest men on the planet call this game?  I would’ve said it was shoddy game management on the part of Mike Leach, but what do I know?

Anyway, thankfully, the Cougs converted that drive into a touchdown and won 34-20.  So, now the Huskies are back atop the Pac-12 North with a 4-1 record.  WSU and Stanford are right behind us at 3-1 (with Oregon at 2-2 – SUCK IT DUCKS!).  We host Stanford in a couple weeks and we go to Pullman for the Apple Cup at the end of the season.  In short, we control our own destiny.

A road game against Cal is on the horizon this Saturday.  The Golden Bears are not there yet, so this is a game we should handily win.  Cal’s only claim to fame is an early victory over BYU, back when we thought BYU was actually worth a damn.  Cal is coming off a drubbing of OSU, so they should be well-rested and confident.

The Cougs overtook the Huskies in the AP rankings, which was a possibility that had occurred to me on Saturday, but wasn’t one I took very seriously.  We’re still ahead of them in the Coaches Poll, but it obviously doesn’t matter, since no team from the Pac-12 will be representing the conference in the playoffs.  Anytime college football wants to expand the playoffs to 8 teams (with each major conference getting a guaranteed slot) will be okay with me.

Until then, eyes on the prize:  Rose Bowl or Bust.

The Huskies Face Their Biggest Challenge Since Auburn

I’m beginning to be a little concerned about how the Huskies play on the road.  UCLA really opened some eyes in the second half of that game last week.  The Huskies looked solid enough in the first half, in racking up a 24-7 halftime lead.  But, then shit just fell apart, and thankfully we were able to put up a touchdown drive in the second half to win it 31-24.  Not the best showing from our defense.

Another solid game from Jake Browning, though!  He had 265 yards passing, with a TD and an INT, as well as 49 yards rushing with another score on the ground.  Yeah, there was a pick, but I’m not really focused on that.  Browning has been gritty as hell lately, playing some STRONG football and I think he deserves to be commended as such.  We’re gonna need everything out of him this week, so I hope he continues playing exactly as he’s been playing the last few weeks.

Gaskin had another monster game, running for 116 on 27 carries with 2 TDs.  It looked like he was dealing with a shoulder issue towards the end of the game, but the dude’s a true warrior and wasn’t about to come off the field on that game-clinching TD drive.  I’m a little concerned about his pro prospects at this point, as it feels like he’s being run into the ground a little bit here (he’s got games of 21, 27 and 30 carries so far this season), but as a Husky fan I’m glad he’s here and I wouldn’t trade him for anyone right now.

Defensively, what can you say about BBK that hasn’t already been said?  Another 15 tackles in this one, as he was again all over the place.  Taylor Rapp got his first pick of the season.  But, you’re going to struggle when you get no pressure on the quarterback, and I’d say 0 sacks constitutes “no pressure”.  Moreover, the lead back ran for 125 yards on 20 carries, so I’d say there’s a lot to clean up heading into Fuck Oregon Week.

The Ducks are 4-1 and 17th in both polls.  The Huskies, conversely, jumped up to 7th in both polls.  So, yeah, this is a pretty huge fucking game.

The Ducks have had an extra week to prepare, which seems like an oversight on the Pac-12’s part, but this conference is run by an incompetent boob, so what do you expect?  We have the worst commissioner, we have the worst network (that isn’t even on DirecTV), we have THE WORST refs, we get no respect from our primary TV partner in ESPN, I’m sure we also have the worst TV deal among the power conferences; why wouldn’t we get saddled with the worst schedules?  Other writers have been harping on this better than I ever could, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate:  Alabama would never be treated this way.  Clemson wouldn’t be treated this way.  The Big 10 wouldn’t treat their top teams this way.  Yet, the Huskies have to play a night game on the road, then have to go back on the road the very next week against a ranked opponent; meanwhile the Ducks get a week off, then get this game at home.  It’s a collosal load of horseshit and even worse, it’s self-sabotage by the Pac-12.  The goal for every major conference should be getting as many teams into the big bowl games as possible, so you can bring in as much money to your conference as possible.  Yet, the way the Pac-12 is run, it’s like they want NOBODY in those games!

I (obviously) hope the Huskies win this week.  And, when it comes time to pick the Top 4 teams for the playoffs, I hope the committee recognizes our conference is run by morons and gives us a little extra boost in the rankings accordingly.  No major conference team should have to be treated this way, yet the top Pac-12 teams are treated this way every fucking year.

All right, end of rant.

Oregon is good.  They’re not as elite as they used to be, but they’re not too far away either.  The scary thing is, we don’t really know how good they are, because their schedule has been pretty weak.  They’re 4-1, but that includes 3 cupcake non-conference schools, a road victory over a now-unranked Cal Bears team, and a home loss to a now-unranked Stanford team.  Considering the way Stanford has looked their last two games, as well as how Cal has looked recently, nothing about Oregon’s schedule strikes me as impressive in the slightest.  The Huskies are the first good team they’ve played, and while they have the advantage in prep time, we don’t yet know if they have an advantage in actual talent.

I kept talking about how last week’s game reminded me of the ASU game from a year ago, but if I’m being honest, it more closely resembles this week.  The only difference is that Oregon is much more highly ranked, but the conditions are the same.  Last year, ASU had an extra week to prepare, and I think that ultimately gave them the edge.  What the Huskies have going for them is that this is a rivalry game, whereas last year’s contest against the Sun Devils felt like a trap game.  Also, this week’s game is at 12:30pm, as opposed to last year’s 7:30pm start time.

I just have to hope all this noise I’m obsessed with as a fan isn’t on the minds of the coaches and players this week.  I feel that sort of shit gets in our heads sometimes and takes us out of the game.  The fact of the matter is, the Huskies are the better team.  But, they haven’t looked as good on the road and that matters.  Also, as you would expect, the Ducks are really good on offense (30th in the nation in rushing yards, 25th in passing yards, 12th in scoring), so if our defense plays like they did against UCLA in the second half, we could be in big trouble.

The thing with the Ducks is, they’re soft.  They can’t handle it when they’re punched in the mouth.  That’s why Stanford always does so well against them.  We’re more like Stanford than we are like Oregon, though I’d put us in that hybrid realm because unlike the Cardinal, we’ve got the type of elite speed to keep up with a team like the Ducks.

I’m having a hard time figuring out this game, though.  The swirling scheduling issues, on top of this being on the road, makes me think it’ll be close one way or the other.  It wouldn’t shock me if Oregon won, to be honest.  I think Washington is the better team, but the better team doesn’t always win.  It’s a long season, and it’s REALLY fucking hard to go undefeated in conference play.  I think the Huskies will win 21-20, but I’m far from confident.

The Huskies Took BYU To Town, Prepare To Thrash UCLA

I spent the entire afternoon on Saturday tailgating to my heart’s content.  There was beer, there was beer pong, there was food, there was chatting with friends.  And then, before I knew it, I was whisked away, down the Padelford steps, along the Burke-Gilman Trail, down towards Husky Stadium …

Followed by a sharp right, down into the train tunnel, onto the train, and out at the Safeco Field stop.  See, this would be my final Mariners game of the season, and it’s the annual Oktoberfest celebration.  You buy a seat in a certain section, and you get a giant glass beer stein, a free beer, and the enjoyment of watching the Mariners beating up on the Rangers in a meaningless game in a meaningless season of our meaningless lives.  I want to say I browned out through 78% of it, and I definitely got lost on my way back to the seats after wolfing down an order of wings and a hot dog (I think).  The rest of the time, I want to say I was my usual charming, sophisticated self.  My night ended on my friend’s couch.

In my inebriated state, I do seem to recall someone telling me the Huskies were up 35 to 0, so I had that to look forward to on Sunday morning.  I DVR’d the game so I could watch it before the NFL kicked off, and boy was it a good one!

The running game was great (Ahmed had 86 on 10 carries with 2 TDs; Gaskin had 81 on 14 carries with 1 TD).  Jake Browning was damn near flawless (23/25, 277 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, and an incredible 9-yard TD run just before halftime).  Aaron Fuller led the way on the receiving side of things, with 8 catches for 107 yards.

After a punt on the first drive of the game, the Huskies scored on 5 of their next 6 drives (and, really, it should’ve been 7 of their next 7, except for 2 missed close-range field goals of 40 and 24 yards).  For all the hype of BYU’s stout defense (I mean, they DID go into Wisconsin and come away victorious), the Huskies were able to do whatever the fuck they wanted.

And yet, somehow the Husky defense STILL out-played the offense!  BYU had 7 first downs all game.  They had 194 total yards!  Only 34 on the ground!  They did biff a 45-yard field goal in the first half, but still, we would’ve shut them out entirely if it weren’t for a Chico McClatcher muffed punt late in the 4th quarter.  That was a legitimate Top 20 football team, and we DECIMATED THEM!

As a reward, the Huskies are back in the Top 10 in both polls.  That was, without question, our most impressive win of the season, and it came at a time where we really needed it.  Stanford did us no favors by losing to Notre Dame over the weekend.  Utah did us no favors by losing to the Cougs (making our 14-point road victory that much less impressive).  We were always the great hope of the Pac-12, and that’s only been further reinforced by what’s happened over the weekend.

This Saturday, we go to UCLA, who is currently winless and has looked pretty pathetic doing it.  I couldn’t be less worried about this one – even if it is on the road – but my focus is squarely on Oregon in two weeks.  They get to spend all this time working on JUST beating the Huskies, since the Pac-12 – in all of its wisdom – gave them a BYE week this week (while we get to go on the road in back-to-back games, because that’s fair for some reason).  I’m already quaking with rage for when we go to Eugene and …

I don’t even want to think about it.

Just hope that the Huskies aren’t peaking too early.  It’s hard to improve upon a game like that against BYU, but we might be going up against the very worst team in the conference this Saturday, so who knows?  The onslaught starts NEXT week.  Oregon is currently in the Top 20, Colorado is undefeated and in the Top 25, Cal was just in the Top 25 before losing to the aforementioned Ducks, and Stanford is in the Top 20 after losing to the aforementioned Fighting Irish.  Then, there’s a creampuff in the Beavers before going on the road for the Apple Cup, at which time you have to hope the Cougars will be ranked (they’re currently 4-1 and looking MUCH better than anyone had any right to expect them to be).

I’m telling you, if we pull it off, there’s no WAY this schedule can be held against us when it comes to the playoffs!