My biggest pet peeve with college football is not the lack of a playoff system, the absurd Pac 12 referring, or even Oregon fans. I don’t like any of those, but far and away I most detest the inconsistencies related to scheduling, which often makes it difficult to evaluate teams. I could go on and on about this, as most of us can when we get to talking about our pet peeves, but I’ll try to keep this concise and get on to the Husky talk.
For starters, we’ve seen how a Boise State team can beat 1 good opponent and 11 nobodies, and back into a BCS game. Or how about Notre Dame, currently ranked 3rd in the country, despite playing 6 of its first 7 games at home, and having just 4 road games total! As for our rival, Oregon, well they managed to not step foot on another school’s campus until their 7th game of the season. Meanwhile, UW has had to go through murderer’s row, but folks (media included) generally ignore this stuff because we prefer to look at a team’s W-L record and decide how good they are. That works in most sports, just not college football. You see, the Huskies are 1 of 13 FBS teams with s 5-4 record, but our schedule through 9 games has been historically brutal, a factor that ought to be weighed. And weigh it we shall!
Consider this. In games 2-8 this season, 5 of the Huskies 7 opponents were ranked top 10 in the country. If that’s not crazy enough, another foe in this stretch was a night game in Tucson, and we all know how that went. Thank God the Huskies won 2 of those games, otherwise we’d be sitting at 3-6 and fans would be calling for Sark to be fired. Again, fans look at records, which I understand in a bottom line business, but to form reasoned opinions you have to look at the whole picture. When 66 BCS conference schools play just 12 games each, and each school gets to pick 3-4 of these games, records can get pretty misleading. The Huskies are 5-4, but give Sark the schedule that the other dozen 5-4 teams have, and we might be talking about a 7-2 or 8-1 team, and a top 15 ranking. That’s pretty dang annoying to me.
My point is this, we are starting to talk about a team that could go 8-4, and at this point there’s probably a 40-50% chance UW wins 9 games total in 2012, despite that unprecedented 7 week stretch. I’ll be ecstatic if this happens because the program will continue its upward trajectory in the Sark era. We all know Rose Bowl talks can’t happen until the gap closes with Oregon, and until the Huskies learn how to play decent against good teams on the road, but still, 8 or 9 wins (with this schedule!) just 4 years removed from 0-12 would be awesome.
Finally, and somewhat unrelated to this rant about scheduling, as I was watching the ugly game vs. Cal on Friday, I started thinking how much trust I have in Sark when the game is close. I decided to see what Washington’s record is in games decided by 8 points or less (a 1 score game), in Sark’s 4 years. I discovered an impressive stat, which is that after starting 2-5 (remember those brutal losses in year 1 at Notre Dame, ASU, UCLA!) since then, the Huskies are 10-0 in games decided by 8 or less. 10-0! You’ve probably heard this Husky team called inconsistent, but actually this team is consistently good at home, consistently good in close games, and consistently awful on the road. It’s about as simple as that, except not really. When evaluating Sark, the Huskies, et cetera, remember to weigh these factors, and remember that the Cougs lost to Colorado at home. That happened, and it ought to cheer you up daily.