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UW vs. Cal Predictions

It’s been a pretty bad week for Husky fans.  On the heels of the debacle in Tempe, word came that Don James had passed away.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and all those left with a hole in their lives by his passing.

The death of a beloved sports figure is kind of a complicated thing for fans, in my mind.  Life and death and all of their trappings are so much more important than sports. It sometimes feels silly to claim grief as a fan when others actually knew the person.  It feels like we need to push sports completely aside in these times, like the football pales in comparison to the gravity of his death.  I never met Coach James, and I don’t even remember his teams terribly well.  His personal influence on me should be next to nothing.

And yet the impact Don James made on me is huge.  I hear it when my dad talks about those Rose Bowl winning teams, and I remember it, hazily, in memories of childhood Apple Cups in the snow and my dad yelling as Napolean Kaufman broke down the sideline.  I witness it on Saturdays in the fall as I walk into Husky Stadium with my family.  At those moments, there is no place I’d rather be, and that is due largely to Don James’ legacy.

I never met Don James, but without him, a huge part of my life might not exist.  That pales in comparison to the hole his wife and loved ones are experiencing, but his loss shouldn’t be diminished for those of us who are just fans.  Instead, it’s just another testament to the full life Coach James led, on the field and off.  He was a man who touched thousands of lives in countless ways.  To me, that sounds like the definition of a life well lived.

Thank you, Don James.  We appreciate everything you did, and we are thankful your  impact does not end with your death.  We will remember you every time we walk into Husky Stadium and with every moment of joy Husky football brings us.

Andrew

Last week was awful.  It’s time to move on.  This week the Huskies play an opponent that is extremely different than the three previous weeks.  They play an opponent that is bad.  Cal’s defense is awful and their offense has struggled as of late.  The Huskies should be able to regain their confidence and get healthy during this game.  I expect a heavy dose of the run game, as well as a focus of getting the ball to ASJ and Kasen.  The only way I see this going bad is if Cal gets out to a lead and the Huskies lose their confidence like last week.  I’m guessing that won’t happen.  On a night where the school honors the best coach ever to grace Husky Stadium’s sidelines, this year’s Husky team will pound a conference foe just like James would have.

UW 38 – CAL 13

Dan

Last minute entry! Cal is really bad. Haha you suck Cal! Dawgs win big because I see no other possible outcome.

UW 33 – CAL 17

Matthew

The Huskies were terrible last week, and it’s generated the expected despair from fans.  Luckily, Cal is really terrible right now.  They’re missing over half of their starting line-up to injuries, and they probably wouldn’t have been great to start.  The one good thing they’ve had going for them, a dynamic passing attack, has faded as true freshman Jared Goff has lost his accuracy and confidence after getting pounded for much of the season.  This is a game the Huskies will have to work hard to lose, especially since it’s in Seattle.  I hope to see the Dawgs figure out what they want to do on offense.  Can the line function with Erik Kohler filling in for Dexter Charles?  Will they find a balance between the run, downfield passing and perimeter passing?  This should be a good week to find answers.  The Huskies are a much better team than they showed last week, and a blowout would go a long way to reminding the players of that.

UW45 – Cal 16

Go Dawgs!

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Running with the Pac: Week 5

And we’re back with our rankings of who had the best week in the Pac-12. Remember, these aren’t overall power rankings for the season (those will come in a day or two).  They are just rankings of which teams had the best games and weeks.  Teams on a bye are left off unless something happens to warrant inclusion.

1. Stanford Cardinal beat WSU 55-17

I had doubts about the Cardinal before the season, and their first few weeks didn’t do a lot to quell them.  An offense already short on playmakers lost two excellent tight ends and a star running back.  A defense supposed to be among the best in the country looked a bit lackluster for the first couple of games as well.  Stanford has changed course in a hurry.  The defense pounded WSU, knocking Connor Halliday out of the game, and the offense has added a vertical passing dimension it hasn’t had in a while.  I’m still not a complete believer in Stanford, but they look like a completely different offense from the one the Huskies beat last year.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils beat USC 62-41

ASU badly needed a win to maintain any shot at challenging UCLA in the south, and they got it in unexpected fashion.  Everyone knows about USC’s offensive woes, but their defense had been excellent.  ASU showed all of their offensive weapons in an explosion that cost Lane Kiffin his job.  Giving up 41 is concerning, but the win is still big.

3. UW Huskies beat Arizona 31-13

It’s unclear how good the Huskies opponents have been, which makes it tough to know how the Huskies are.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.  Either way, the Huskies handled what looked like a solid but limited Arizona squad.  It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t the blowout Dawg fans were hoping for, but I think that had as much to do with the first half monsoon as with anything the Huskies did.  There was a point where both teams seemed to give up on doing anything more than handing off, and that was a bigger detriment to UW than Arizona.  The defense was stingy all day, and the offense exerted its will most of the game.  It’s a big win for the Huskies, but it didn’t provide as much clarity on the Huskies ability as I’d hoped.  That’ll come soon.

4. OSU Beavers beat Colorado 44-17

After their well-documented slow start, the Beavers are rallying.  They haven’t beat anyone of consequence, but they’ve done what’s necessary to get their season back on track.  I still think their defense will keep them out of the top half of the division, but the offense is as dangerous as any.  Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks is maybe the top duo in the country.

5. Oregon Ducks beat Cal 55-16

Oregon demolished another poor opponent.  The main reason they’re at the bottom of the winning teams is De’Anthony Thomas’s injury.  It doesn’t sound serious, but he’s likely out this weekend, and hopefully (for the Huskies) the one after.

6. Arizona Wildcats lost to UW 31-13

No one had a “good loss” this week, but Arizona’s wasn’t terrible: on the road, to a ranked opponent, competitive.  As I said, the weather made it hard to glean a lot from that game, but Arizona has a solid defense and an excellent running back.  Quarterback is what’s going to hold them down.  BJ Denker gave no indication he can be any passing threat whatsoever.  The Cats can beat the bad teams, but they’re going to struggle greatly against good defenses until they find a semblance of a passing game.

7. Colorado Buffaloes lost to OSU 44-17

The next three are all pretty interchangeable, but we’ll give the Buffs the top spot because we had low expectations of them and they didn’t suffer any notable injuries or embarrassments that I’m aware of.  The loss did show how far Colorado still has to go before they’ll be competitive.

8. California Golden Bears lost to Oregon 55-16

No one expected Cal to keep this close, but I thought they’d put up a few more points, or at least yards.  They now have a bit of a quarterback controversy as well, for reasons unclear to me.  They switched mid-game from starter Jared Goff to give Zach Kline some snaps.  Maybe it was just to protect the less mobile Goff, but if they were expecting more from a true freshman against Oregon, they’re crazy.  Goff was good enough before Saturday to justify the surprising decision to go with him to start the season, and to change now seems strange to me.  I’d expect to see Goff back in there throwing like crazy.  It might not get Cal many wins, but a dynamic passing game is all they have going for them.

9. WSU Cougars lost to Stanford 55-17

The Cougars go below the previous two because they actually had hopes of a win, hopes that Stanford tore apart and sent down the storm drains with the rain.  WSU’s supposedly improved defense was overmatched, and the offense did next to nothing.  I do think WSU’s better than last year, but their improvement has been overstated.  A big problem is the quarterback.  Halliday can do some things, but he balances his plusses with terrible mistakes.  Austin Apodaca looked decent when he came on for the injured Halliday, but he’s not going to be a magical cure should the Cougars go to him more in the future.  The Cougars might be on the right track, but Stanford showed it’s going to be a slower journey than Cougar fans had hoped.

10. USC Trojans lost to ASU 62-41

Let’s recap USC’s Saturday/early Sunday. They were demolished by ASU, giving up more points in one game than they had all season up to that point.  They lost multiple defenders to injury, depleting a roster already demolished due to scholarship sanctions.  All-world WR Marquise Lee, suffering a poor season due to inconsistent quarterback play, had a knee injury that looked bad, although it’s unknown how long he’ll be out.  And, to top it off, Lane Kiffin was fired as soon as the plane landed back in LA.  It’s been about as bad a week as USC could have imagined.  A few positives: USC still has plenty of talent, and it might respond to new coach Ed Orgeron.  The running game with Tre Madden and Justin Davis has been a solid plus for an offensive that’s struggled.  And whatever else one wants to say about Kiffin, his playcalling this season has been strange at best.  A new mind running the offense might get better results.  Or it might not.  It’s hard to know what the rest of the season will bring, but this was an inevitable move.  Let’s just say that as a fan of another Pac-12 team, I’d much rather have Lane Kiffin as USC’s coach than whomever they hire to replace him.

-Matthew

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Runnin’ With The Pac: Week 3

Once again, rankings of who had the best week in the Pac-12.  These are not overall power rankings, just who had the best game/week last week.  Teams on a bye are excluded unless something warrants it.

1. UCLA Bruins beat Nebraska 41-21

What a tough week for the Bruins.  Last Sunday they lost a player, Nick Pasquale, who was killed in a car wreck.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, teammates and coaches.  Dealing with a death like that is so far beyond anything happening on the football field, and it showed as UCLA struggled in the first half on Saturday.  They stormed back to blow-out Nebraska and earn the Pac-12’s best victory thus far.  No matter how you usually feel about UCLA, this was a win everyone can be excited for them to get.  It doesn’t replace losing a member of their family, but if it helps give them meaning and a chance to move on, it will be worth something.  Best wishes to everyone involved, and we hope you find overwhelming love and support through the next months.

2. ASU Sun Devils beat Wisconsin 32-30

ASU didn’t always look good, but they looked better most of the game than did the Badgers.  And come on, how great was that ending!  It was wrong in oh so many ways, and Wisconsin has every right to be furious.  It was also one of the craziest things I’ve seen on the field in a while.  I’d put them number two just because of how much enjoyment it brought me, but it was also a solid win against a ranked team.  ASU didn’t look perfect, but they’re a tough team when they get rolling.

3. USC Trojans beat Boston College 35-7

After their terrible showing against WSU, the Trojans finally did some things right.  Kiffin named Cody Kessler as quarterback, and he was solid.  Even more encouraging was a strong day in the running game and signs that Marquise Lee is getting untracked.  He only caught two balls, but they went for 90 yards.  BC isn’t good, but USC did exactly what they needed to get their season at least going in the direction of the right track.

4. Oregon Ducks beat Tennessee 59-14

Not much to say here, as Oregon pummeled yet another mediocre opponent.  I wish we could see them play someone, but they’re disposing quickly of anyone they see.

5. UW Huskies beat Illinois 34-24

Illinois is probably about as good as Tennessee, but the Huskies weren’t nearly as dominant as Oregon was.  Still, road wins are always good, and the Dawgs were a few mistakes from a blow-out.  They need to stop making mistakes.  Don’t do dumb stuff, Huskies!

6. Oregon State Beavers beat Utah 51-48

The Beavs are tied with WSU for the Pac-12 lead.  Have a good laugh.  Take your time.  The good news is that, in what was something of a must win, the Beavers did, and salvaged any hope their season had.  The bad news is they didn’t look too great doing it and the defense continues to struggle mightily.  OSU usually improves over the year, except for that year they really didn’t.  They’re going to score plenty of points, but the defense doesn’t have any answers right now.  Glad to see Storm Woods is okay, though.  That was a scary moment for a talented guy.

7. (Tie) Arizona Wildcats beat UTSA 38-13 WSU Cougars beat Southern Utah 48-10

Both teams beat weak opponents fairly handily, so I’m giving them the tie.  I saw some of the WSU game and none of Arizona’s so I can’t say a ton.  WSU looked shaky early, but they managed to take care of business.  Both teams are doing what they need to do, but stiffer challenges await.

9. Stanford Cardinal beat Army 34-20

Unimpressive win for a top five Stanford squad.  The passing game is looking better than expected, but the defense struggled a bit with Army.  That shouldn’t happen.  Stanford is probably fine, but they look a bit suspect, and that’s enough to drop them to 9th in a strong week for the conference.

10. California Golden Bears lost to Ohio St. 52-34

Cal got whupped by OSU, but they did manage to put up 34 points.  QB Jared Goff is a keeper (literally. I have him in fantasy.  I might keep him) and the offense is fairly loaded and in a system well-fitted to their strengths.  Unfortunately for the Bears, the defense is horrendous.  I mean, it’s really bad.  Really really bad.  Cal could be good soon, but I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

11. Utah Utes lost to OSU 51-48

The Utes get the basement for losing a conference game at home they were in position to win.  The good news is they were in position to win, and the offense is dramatically improved from last year.  Alas, they still lost, and the Utes aren’t good enough yet to be losing conference games at which they have a shot.

Honorary Listing: Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado had their match with Fresno State postponed due to the incredible flooding taking place.  Again, prayers and well wishes to all those suffering loss in the tragedy.  Cancelling the game was the right move.  Still, it was probably unfortunate for Colorado, who have been playing reasonably well and were looking for some revenge against FSU for last year’s beating.  Last I heard, they haven’t decided for sure if the game will be rescheduled, although they hope to.  Hopefully Colorado dries out soon and the Buffs can resume their slow improvement on the field.

Here’s to a week with fewer tragedies and even more great games.  Stay safe everybody.

-Matthew

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Head of the Pac: Week Two

This is a new thing I’m trying this season.  Last week it was just called Ranking the Pac-12.  Prepare yourself for a slew of bad “Pac” related titles until I find one I like.  Anyway, this is not a power ranking.  It is a subjective ranking of who had the best week the week before.  Teams who didn’t play will be left off unless something significant enough to merit a ranking happened. This week there was one interesting game and lots of blowouts of cupcakes.  The schedule gets a lot better in week 3.  Let’s do this.

1. WSU Cougars beat USC 10-7

I have some misgivings putting the Cougs at the top, because they really didn’t look too great, USC looked horrific, and they’re the Cougars.  Still, WSU got a road win over USC and is leading the Pac-12 North.  I would never have guessed either of those things would have happened this year.  WSU’s defense looked good, but there’s no arguing it was helped significantly by terrible quarterbacking and worse play-calling for USC.  The offense didn’t manage a touchdown, and was maybe worse than USC’s before the big catch and run that put them in field goal position.  The Cougars are certainly better than they were, but I’m unconvinced of how much.  Strangely, it’s the defense that has made the greatest strides under Mike Leach.

2. Oregon Ducks beat Virginia 59-10

The Ducks weren’t perfect, but any complaints are extremely minor when you beat an FBS  team on the road by 49 points.  I doubt Tennessee will fare much better this week.  The Ducks might not be challenged much before coming to Husky Stadium in a few weeks.

3. Utah Utes beat Weber State 70-7

Everything gets a little murky through the vast middle of these rankings.  No one played anyone good and most teams won big.  Extra points and the number three ranking to Utah for doing something I wouldn’t have believed them capable of before the season: putting up 70 points.  That’s a lot, regardless of the opponent.

4. ASU Sun Devils beat Sacramento St. 55-0

I like blowout shutouts.  This is an appropriate score given the teams involved, but it’s always encouraging to see a team nearly perfect on opening night.  This Saturday gets much tougher with Wisconsin coming to town.

5. Stanford Cardinal beat San Jose St. 34-13

Stanford wasn’t incredible, but they handled one of the week’s better opponents easily.  Offense is going to be the question for the Tree.  They’re lacking in established skill players outside of QB Kevin Hogan.  The defense and O Line will have to carry them until they can get clicking.

6. Arizona Wildcats beat UNLV 58-13

Another big win over a weak opponent. The passing game is struggling for the Cats.  Luckily they have All-American Kadeem Carey back from suspension.  Carey is one of the few players to ever be suspended for being an All-American.  The guy’s amazing in so many ways.

7. Oregon State Beavers beat Hawaii 33-14

We have reached the section: “Unimpressive wins against terrible opponents”.  Hawaii is terrible.  Even USC beat them handily.  OSU did too, but it took a while.  The game was in question for the first half before the Beavs pulled away.  They also lost the defense’s captain and maybe best player, LB Mike Doctor. At least he should heal quickly (Doctor joke).  Actually, probably not: 6-8 weeks out. The O Line is beat up as well.  We’ll see if the Beavers can rally, but it’s looking like a potentially long season.  Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are pretty great though.

8. (Tie) California Golden Bears beat Portland St. 37-30; Colorado Buffaloes beat Central Arkansas 38-24

Many similarities here.  Both teams struggled to beat bad opponents.  Both had some standout offensive performances: Jared Goff went over 450 yards for the second game in a row for Cal, with many of those yards going to WR Bryce Treggs; Buff WR Paul Richardson had his second straight 200 yard receiving game.  That’s never been done before in the Pac-12.  Good stuff.  Unfortunately, the rest of the team isn’t that great, for both squads.

10. USC Trojans lost to WSU 10-7

Oh, USC.  Where to even begin?  This was one of the worst offensive performances I have ever seen.  Both quarterbacks are bad and made worse by Lane Kiffin’s poor handling and ridiculously terrible play-calling.  Maybe my biggest question is why both quarterbacks are so bad.  Both guys were highly rated and possess obvious physical skills.  It’s no surprise if one of them doesn’t develop, but I find it quite strange that both are struggling so greatly.  One more strike against Kiffin.  Unfortunately for him, he’s already wearing a Golden Sombrero.  The defense is good enough to sustain them if they can show even the slightest threat on offense, but that’s looking like a lot to ask for at the moment. That sentence is really depressing if you simultaneously look at their roster.  They have so much talent it’s crazy.  This team is going to have to drastically improve if they want to save Kiffin’s job, let alone get to a bowl game.  I’d put Kiffin at about a 3% chance of returning next year.

-Matthew

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Pac-12 Rankings: Week 1

Hello there, and welcome to the first week of the Good Guys Pac-12 power rankings!  These aren’t really going to be true power rankings though, because everyone does those and they never really change from week to week.  Instead, I’m going to rank teams based on who had the best week.

As such, this will mostly be a ranking of who had the weekend’s best wins to worst losses.  It has no bearing on who is the best overall team.  I repeat, these are not rankings of which team is the best.  Looking ahead, UW is number one on the list, because they demolished a ranked team.  I don’t think they’re the best team in the conference, but they easily had the best win.  All clear?

Stanford and Arizona State didn’t play, so I’m leaving them off.  That will be the case for most teams with byes throughout the year, unless something terrible or great happens to them during practice.  Not likely, but players get hurt during practice or arrested in Eugene.  Things happen.  On to the rankings!

1. Washington Huskies

No team made more of a statement than the Huskies.  Whether or not Boise State is a bit down this year, they were maybe the best opponent of any Pac-12 team this weekend.  The Huskies disposed of them with little mercy.  It was a dominating win for a program that needed one.

2. UCLA Bruins

It gets a little harder to distinguish at this point.  Nevada’s a decent team and UCLA whupped them 58-20.  I’m giving them bonus blowout points to bump them ahead of a couple of other teams.

3. Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado beat Colorado State 41-27.  CSU isn’t very good, but if you remember 2012, the Buffs didn’t win too many games.  One, to be exact.  They also lost to CSU to start last year, so this is a big improvement.  By all accounts, Colorado looked greatly improved, and for a program in need of some hope, this is a big win. Continue reading

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Good Guys Pac-12 Preview

The season is two days away, so let’s fire up a conference preview!  More comprehensive previews abound, so if you want a rundown of UCLA’s secondary, you’ll have to check somewhere else.  For this preview, I’m telling you two things: which player from each team I would want on the Huskies, and how scared I would be if the Dawgs were playing given team tomorrow.  I’ll rate that 1-10, with one being an almost certain win for the Dawgs and 10 an almost certain loss.  I’ll also go through the teams in the divisional order I’d expect them to finish.  So I guess you get three things!  Enjoy.

South Division

1. Arizona State

Player I Want (PIW): This is the easiest choice in the conference, because  DT Will Sutton might be the best player in the conference.  He’s one of the best pass rushing tackles in recent memory, and has a chance to win conference defensive player of the year for the second time in a row.  That hasn’t happened since Mr. Steve Emtman.  Sutton would fit perfectly next to Danny Shelton, transforming the Husky D Line from a bit of a worry to a huge strength.

Scare-o-meter: 7.  ASU took a big step forward last year, and I think they’ll continue to move up.  They have some issues, but they also have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.  Taylor Kelly was one of the best QBs in the conference last year, and DJ Foster and Marion Grice is the top running back duo in the Pac-12.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish as low as third in the south, but I’m betting they fight off a tough early schedule to make the Pac-12 Championship Game.

2. USC

PIW: Also an easy choice: Marquise Lee, the best receiver in all the land.  Lee brings me to an interesting point in deciding on these players.  The best player on a team isn’t always the guy who would help the Huskies the most.  Defensive lineman Morgan Breslin, for instance, plays at a position of greater need for UW.  In close calls, UW’s need wins out.  Sometimes the greatness of one player far outweighs the utility of another, though.  Anyone who would turn down a chance to see Marquise Lee on their side every Saturday is crazy.

Scare-o-meter: 6.  As usual, USC has as much talent as anyone in the conference.  They have three questions holding them back: 1. Who’s QB? Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both expected to play on Thursday. 2. Running back is uncertain, with Silas Redd injured.  Lots of talent here though.  3. Lane Kiffin is still coach.  He’s a complete x-factor.  Still, aside from losing Matt Barkley and a few others, this is a roster that was expected to challenge for a national championship last year.  They could be a load if a QB emerges and Kiffin doesn’t sabotage them.

3. UCLA Continue reading

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UW vs. Cal Predictions

A couple quick thoughts before the predictions:

  • The big game related news today was that Cal’s phenomenal wide receiver Keenan Allen will miss the game and potentially the rest of the season with a knee injury.  Allen is a huge threat and the focal point of Cal’s offense, so the loss should make the game much easier for the Husky defense.  That aside, I’m kind of sad Allen will miss the game.  I’ve written about him before, and he’s easily my favorite non-Husky in the Pac-12.  He’s only a junior, but I can’t think of a player more likely to go pro.  Maybe he’ll surprise everyone, but I’m hoping we next see him in a Seahawk uniform next fall.
  • One of the biggest topics for discussion this week has been Husky fans rushing the field after Saturday’s win.  A lot of fans thought a win over Oregon State is never worthy of rushing the field, no matter their ranking.  I can understand that viewpoint, and I agree to some degree.  But really, who cares?  Most of the people on the field were students, and most of those students weren’t around when the Huskies were good and beat the Beavers with regularity.  Being on the field is cool, and if people are excited enough about a Husky win that they feel the need to get down there, that’s great.  Some day we’ll be back to the point where the only reasons to rush the field are going to the Rose Bowl or winning the national championship.  Until then, the fans have to grow along with the team.  As long as everything is safe, it’s just not a big deal.
  • Most sports fans are superstitious.  Most of us know that the superstitions mean nothing, but it doesn’t stop us from wearing the same shirt or underwear throughout a winning streak.  My family has had lots of Husky superstitions over the years, from lucky shirts to hats to cheers.  One year we were sure a poncho was lucky.  Every time someone put the poncho on, the Dawgs started winning.  Eventually, we had it spread across the couch while watching a game on TV.  They lost that game, I think, although I did wear that poncho this past Saturday, so maybe it regained some magic.  Anyway, KJR unveiled the Huskies ultimate lucky charm on the Husky Honks show yesterday: Dick Baird’s mustache.  Evidently, he pledged to regrow it after the Arizona game, and now says it’s not coming off until January.  We’ll see how it works, but I see no reason why this wouldn’t be the missing piece in the rebuilding.

Here’s the predictions!

Andrew

There aren’t many things that are going against the Huskies going into their Friday night showdown in Berkley.  They’re playing Cal, who was just dominated by a winless Pac-12 team.  Cal is without their best player, Keenan Allen.  The Huskies are coming off one of their better games of the season.  The offensive line seems to be meshing at least a little more.  This is the type of offense that the Husky defense has excelled against this season.  Rumor has it, I’ll probably be watching this game with Dan and I can’t recall the last time the Huskies have lost when I watch a football game while being in his presence (knock on wood).  With all of these things going for the Dawgs, how can they lose?  Well, it’s a weird game, on a Friday night and Bigelow (of Cal) is starting to get going.  Also, the Huskies haven’t won a game on the road in over a year.  I can’t pick them in this game knowing that.  I hope they’ll win but they haven’t shown enough consistency for me to predict a win.
Cal 27 – UW 21
Joe
The Huskies roll into Cal a four point underdog on the road. I take that line to mean the guys in Vegas were not too impressed with the Dawgs’ victory over then #7 ranked OSU. I’m not sure I agree, but then again, don’t ever bet against Vegas, you’ll most likely lose.  Cal is coming off a road thrashing at the hands of the Utes of Utah, who last time I checked don’t exactly have a juggernaut offense, yet were able to score 49 on Cal.  I haven’t been impressed with Cal all year.  They have an incredible ability to NOT be able to get up for games.  They’re stoic, detached from emotion for wide swaths of games. I don’t really see how Friday night will be any different.  The Huskies come in with more to play for, and more to lose.  I expect the UW coaches will be able to motivate and come up with a game plan that will work vs Cal, something Sark has done quite well over the past three seasons.  The Huskies committed to run the ball last week and it worked.  Ball control was key, as well as mitigating turnovers.  If the Huskies can control the clock, run the ball, and win the turnover battle, I see no reason why they can’t win this game.  Throw in the fact Keenan Allen will not be playing, and I like the Dawgs in a close one between mediocre football teams.
UW 24 – Cal 23
Matthew
I hate predicting what these Huskies are going to do.  They should win this game fairly easily.  Cal is playing terribly, just lost their best player, and seems to have given up somewhat on the season.  But the Huskies are on the road, so all bets are off.  The hope is that the road woes are in large part due to quality of opponent and that the Huskies found a bit of attitude and character in the win over the Beavers.  A key will be Cal QB Zack Maynard, who is incredibly inconsistent but capable of a solid performance on occasion.  The Huskies need to get consistent pressure on Maynard.  The Cal offensive line has given up the most sacks in the conference, so this is a great chance for the young Husky D-line to grow up a bit.  Who knows if any of these things happen, but I’m betting the Huskies are finally ready to take a step forward.  Two obstacles go down Friday as the Huskies get a road win and score more than 21 points against an FBS school for the first time this year.
UW 31 – Cal 17
Dan
There are 2 ways I can think of regarding tomorrow’s game.  First, Cal just got thumped and ought to be desperate for a win (like UW last week), and the excitement of a Friday night game under the lights might propel them. On the other hand, it could be Cal just got thumped because they suck, Tedford is a lame duck coach, and without their best player tomorrow, UW has the advantage. I’m leaning towards the latter, not just because I’m hoping for the latter, but because I genuinely think the Huskies will win a low scoring game on Friday.  There’s not a team in America that has been tested like the Huskies, who are finally through a 7 week stretch  of 5 games vs. top 10 opponents (plus Arizona on the road). I expect an energized Husky team ready to win its first road game, and Keenan Allen’s absence really is the X factor in this one.

Huskies 20 – Cal 13

Go Dawgs!

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Pac-12 Power Rankings

The college football season is roughly a third of the way over, and nearly everyone has played a conference game or two (the Huskies are the only team without one, strangely).  There have already been quite a few surprises, so let’s take a second to step back and see where everyone stands.

I don’t claim these power rankings to be any better than anyone else’s.  I watch a good number of games and read a lot more, but there are plenty of teams I haven’t seen much of.  Still, everyone loves a power ranking, so I’ll throw one up here.  I’m ranking teams based almost entirely on what they’ve done so far, both in terms of record and how they’ve looked.  If two teams are close or if there are significant outside circumstances, I’ll look at who is most likely to be successful in the future.  That’s secondary though, and this will mainly be a ranking of how good teams have been thus far.  Here goes nothing:

1. Oregon

Oregon is the second ranked team in the country and has demolished everyone it’s faced.  That’s not saying a lot though, as Arizona is the only decent team they’ve played.  The Wildcats hung with them for a while last night, but eventually the Ducks pitched a shutout and won 49-0.  To me, they don’t look as good as they have in the last couple of years, but it’s hard to say for sure until they play someone who will test them offensively and defensively.

2. Stanford

The Cardinal has the best win in the conference, over USC, a pounding defense, and plenty of power in the running game with Stepfan Taylor and a big offensive line.  What they also have is a rookie quarterback and a couple of unimpressive wins before the USC game.  That’s just to say that we’re not positive where they’ll go from here, especially when they hit the road, but they certainly looked the part against USC.

3. USC

This is where the rankings get a little difficult, as 3-5 could all be argued as interchangeable.  We’ll go with USC because of pedigree, talent and the quality of their loss, but they have questions.  They need to dramatically improve on the offensive line and hope they don’t lose any more players to injury.  More interestingly, what will Lane Kiffin do the rest of the year?  He seems on the verge of melting down and is starting to show the attitude that got him in trouble in Oakland and Tennessee.

4. Oregon State

OSU has two impressive wins and a stifling defense.  I seriously considered them at #3.  In the end, they’re here because they’ve only played two games (through no fault of their own) and had an extra week to prepare for each of them, as Andrew pointed out to me last night. It’s too early to call them a definite contender, but they look the most legitimate of all the surprise teams thus far.

5. Arizona State

The Sun Devils have had plenty of talent recently.  Last year they were the popular pick to win the South before imploding completely.  This year they look like they’ve ironed out the attitude problems and are playing great football.  They have a bunch of playmakers, a decent defense, and a surprisingly efficient and effective quarterback in Taylor Kelly.  It may not last, but they look tough at the moment.

6. Arizona

Arizona might have been #4 before last night, but Oregon brought them back to reality quickly.  One could argue that UA held the Ducks down for a bit, but that’s often how Oregon wins games.  The Wildcats are definitely improved, but it’s hard to know how much or if it will last.

7. UCLA

This might be too low, but I’ll be a skeptic on UCLA until they do something for a full season or two.  The Nebraska win was good, but they’ve had big early wins before falling apart in the past.  They have a great young QB in Brett Hundley, but will he hit the freshman wall at some point?  Maybe the biggest question is whether Jim Mora’s toughness campaign has had any effect.

8. Washington

UW is the hardest team to call in the conference.  They have blowouts going both directions that were completely unsurprising.  The San Diego State win is decent, but they’ve looked fairly mediocre on both sides of the ball.  Really, the Huskies have done exactly what they were supposed to do, so the only thing to do is see if they can pull off an upset in the next month.

9. Utah

Utah has a decent win against BYU, but otherwise they look nothing like a team expected to be the biggest South challenger to USC.  The offense is a big question, with a hole at quarterback and their only real star, RB John White, hampered with injury so far.  I would bet that Utah pulls it together to win a few more, but I’d be surprised if they break .500.

10. California

I don’t have a clue what to make of the Golden Bears.  Talent-wise, they should be at least middle of the pack, and they looked that way against Ohio State.  Otherwise, it’s not happening on the field.  The only thing that seems clear is that QB Zach Maynard and the offensive line have to be consistently effective, and that isn’t happening right now.

11. Colorado

Congratulations to the Buffs, who stampeded their way out of the cellar yesterday.  Colorado showed good resolve and fight to pull out the win over WSU, but the talent doesn’t look to be there for many more wins.  I would imagine if they get to three or four, fans will feel moderately hopeful for the future after a dreadful start.

12. Washington State

And here are the Cougars, back in their familiar resting place.  Other than possibly USC, I don’t think any team has had a more disappointing start to the season than the Cougs.  With all of the hope from the Mike Leach hire, a 4-0 start and a bowl game seemed like a solid possibility.  Instead, they’re 2-2, with neither of the wins looking impressive and one of the losses to a team that was being talked of as potentially going 0-12.  The defense looks untalented and mistake-prone, a bad combination.  The offense has talent, but the Air Raid is taking longer to click than most expected.  At this point, the quarterbacks are a bit of a question.  Jeff Tuel is hurt and looked unsure of himself when he did play.  Connor Halliday has been better than Tuel, but he’s a gambler type prone to interceptions.  Even more concerning is the psyche/attitude of the team.  Leach didn’t seem to bring the reset they needed.  It’s hard not to wonder whether this group of players will ever understand what it takes to win football games.  I’d expect a little bit of improvement, but a shot at a bowl game seems out the window.

-Matthew

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