The Huskies season is at a crossroads as they head toward kickoff in Tempe. Right now, they are where everyone expected them to be. One might have hoped for five wins or worried about three losses, but 4-2 right now was the most realistic positive scenario. The question is where they go from here.
The Huskies of the last few years would struggle with all of the tough road games remaining. We’d hope they’d take one of the ASU, OSU and UCLA games. That still might happen. I think this team is different though.
There are certain things a winning team does. There are always excuses and reasons for not winning games. It would’ve been nice to have a more than 1 of 5 of the Huskies toughest games at home, rather than have the five easiest opponents in Husky Stadium. That’s unfortunate. Every season has these types of scenarios, though, where not everything comes up perfectly. The good teams win despite the circumstances. And then, on those incredibly rare occasions where everything falls perfectly into place, the good teams become great and challenge for Rose Bowls and national championships.
I don’t know if the Huskies are quite to that level yet, but I think they’re closer to being the type of team unaffected by their circumstances than they are to the team that’s stumbled to seven wins of late. They play with a confidence and assurity that is new this season. They still have to prove it, though, every game. A trip to Arizona State is the perfect place to start.
Three losses in a row is a very real possibility for the Dawgs this weekend, something UW has done every year under Sark. On the road in Tempe is never easy, especially when ASU has talent, which they have this season. That said, this team seems to be different. They’ve played well in both road games this year and were in the game vs Oregon last week until Mariota went all Mariota on them. Bishop Sankey is *the* best running back in America and I don’t think ASU slows him down. Look for Kasen and ASJ to have bounce back games. The Sun Devils are a step down from Stanford and Oregon, and it will show. UW takes this one in front of 20k+ Husky fans who make the trip south.
UW 43 – ASU 32
I’m not really sure what to expect tomorrow. In the past decade there is no way this team would win this game. They are about equal in talent to Arizona State (although I’d say the Huskies have more talent), it’s a road game and the team just played two very tough games. I do believe that this team is different though and that’s why I’m picking the Huskies today. If they play fast and don’t come out flat, I don’t know why they would lose. They match-up pretty well against the Sun Devils and I think Bishop will have another big day. Let’s hope so! Go Dawgs!
UW 38 – ASU 30
The question Husky Nation has been asking for the last few years is when will this team take the next step, from good to great. 5 years ago all we wanted was to be respectable, but bowl games are the norm again and there’s no doubt this season will end at a bowl game. But there’s a big difference, at least in perception, between 6-8 wins and 9-11. The arrow is pointing up for UW but it’s time to take that next step, and a win on the road against a ranked opponent would be huge. Great teams win these games, while good ones take care of inferior opponents, win the occasional home game upset, but then lose road games versus good teams. That’s pretty much been UW in the Sark era.
As for the game itself, it sure feels like we will see a lot of offense. ASU has a ton of weapons and when Taylor Kelly is on his game, he is a top 5 QB in this conference. I think he’s the key to the game. The Huskies proved at Stanford that they can bring their game on the road and compete, but can they finish the job? Let’s not forget that this game is huge for ASU too, similarly a potential season definer. In the end, I think the Huskies have a great shot to win this game, but until I see that they can win a game like this, I have a hard time picking them.
Sun Devils 34 – Huskies 27
I think if this game were on a neutral field, the Huskies would win fairly easily. ASU is a good team, especially on offense. Their defense has been mediocre though, and the offense one-dimensional enough to be stoppable. ASU has been much better at home, particularly Taylor Kelly. I think the Huskies are a different team on the road this season, but I’m worried playing at home will bring out the potentially elite side of ASU, instead of the average-ish side they show often.
I’m still not terribly worried about the Husky defense. They’ll have their hands full with the Sun Devils, but it’s a manageable job. I’m a little more worried about the offense. They still seem to be looking for an identity in the passing game. They’ve gone away from the quick screens and perimeter attack in favor of attacking the intermediate sidelines, with the occasional pass over the middle, usually deep. If they can find the right balance, and figure out a way to better incorporate ASJ, the offense could explode. The line also needs to continue to improve, especially with Will Sutton and Carl Bradford aimed at Keith Price. I’m betting on the Huskies today, because I think they’ve become a team that wins these games, but it’ll be tough down in the desert.
UW 38 – ASU 24