The Huskies’ season is down to three games. It’s been a frustrating season. Most would agree this year’s team is Sarkisian’s best yet, but through deficits in talent or focus or coaching or who knows what, they still can’t quite take the step of beating the great teams, especially on the road.
Today is the 2013 Huskies last chance to prove something. They could lose today and win the last two and still have made some progress, but nine wins, with one being a solid road win, would feel much better. I don’t think Sark will be fired no matter what, but a 9-4 season has to be considered a success and would give some good momentum to next year, when nearly everyone but Keith Price (and maybe Bishop Sankey) will be back.
The Huskies’ situation isn’t as dire as many have made it sound. Their talent still isn’t quite what it needs to be, and they clearly haven’t had the lightbulb come on as to how they have to prepare and focus. The discipline is lacking, as seen both in penalties and lack of execution. Both the team and coaching staff have to continue to grow this offseason. A win today could provide the boost of confidence that might push this team over the edge.
I like the Huskies on paper, and I think they are the better team in this matchup. However, it’s getting hard to ignore the road numbers. In Sark’s tenure, the Huskies are 7-20 on the road, having only beat USC, Cal (2x), WSU, Utah, Colorado, and Illinois. Of that batch, only USC was a decent team, that win being the only road victory against a ranked team under Sark. So you could argue that the matchup comparisons mean little today, because until the Huskies prove they can beat decent teams on the road, there will be major doubts. That said, penalties and turnovers seem to derail the Dawgs on the road, so minimizing those should go a long way to getting a win. And of course, Keith’s injury status looms large today. The defense will need to show up as a startling trend is developing, which is that when facing good teams, UW has given up an average of 42 points this year (Stanford, Oregon, ASU, UCLA). That all will need to change and it just may today, but I won’t count on it.
Benny’s Beavers 34 – Harry’s Huskies 24
UW rolls into Corvallis in a do or die situation. The vultures are circling in Seattle around Coach Sark and his future; warranted or
not, it’s a reality. The Huskies lead all FBS schools in penalty yards which has cost them games (the actual *validity* of many of the
more untimely penalties are up for debate…, but I digress). The undisciplined fashion they play with has got to stop. Now. If not,
they are staring a 6-6 season square in the face, which may cost this coaching staff it’s jobs (again, warranted or not). Sometimes do or die games are needed to quickly and effectively focus a team on the issues at hand. Lose a game in Sept or Oct and “there’s always next week”. Lose a game in late November and you’re talking about a good or bad bowl and job security. It’s when the cream rises to the top. This is why I feel UW will win. I haven’t felt this way lately, especially last week vs UCLA. This week is different. The Beavers are struggling in similar ways as UW is, but I believe UW is the more desperate team here. There’s more on the line. A program defining 9-4 season is still, remarkably, a possibility if they win out with a bowl. Lose this game and you then have to host a possible bowl eligible WSU in the Apple Cup and we all know how those games go. There really is no tomorrow for UW. The road woes must end, and I think they will.
UW 34 – OSU 30
I don’t really have any idea how this game will go. It seems impossible to predict without knowing if Keith Price will play. If Cyler Miles starts, it could be a drastically different game plan. There are just a lot of unknowns here, including how good OSU really is. This is a game that might depend on Bishop Sankey and the defense. Brandin Cooks is one of the scarier players in the league, but if the Huskies can blanket him somewhat and get a little pressure on Sean Mannion, they can stop the Beavers. Regardless of who’s at quarterback, I think the Huskies will win this game if they can avoid the mistakes that so often plague them, most recently in the first quarter at UCLA. I have no idea if today is the day they make that jump, but I’m trying to be optimistic this year, so I’m going to say the Dawgs pull this one out.
UW 38 – OSU 27
After last week, the Huskies don’t really give me any good reason to pick them this week. As usual, it felt like the Dawgs were just a few plays away last Friday night but they couldn’t overcome their mistakes. This week seems like a matchup that is a lot the same. I think the Huskies are the more talented team this week and may be better overall, just like last week. While Oregon State has some nice pieces, I like how are offense matches up against them and our defense’s strength matches up against their offense’s strength. But, it’s a conference road game against a pretty good team. While the knock on Sark not being able to beat teams on the road may be a little bit overblown this year (his road losses have come to teams with a combined record of 24-6), this game still feels like more of the same to me. I think it will be close, but until the Huskies show me they can win these types of games I don’t think I’ll be picking them.
Huskies 34 – Beavers 38