The Washington Huskies start the second half of the season Saturday night at Arizona, a team the Huskies handled last year in Seattle, 42-31. At 3-3, the record is probably what most reasonably expected, and maybe a little more, given that Washington defeated one team – nationally ranked Stanford – that it didn’t figure to beat.
On the other hand, Washington’s record would stand at 4-2 if the Huskies had taken care of business against USC a week ago. But after digging out of a 17-point hole, three turnovers in the second half doomed the Huskies’ comeback hopes in a 24-14 loss.
The Huskies have played the toughest part of their schedule – a gauntlet against four ranked opponents in the season’s first six weeks, including the last three. They have one ranked opponent remaining, against Oregon State at CenturyLink Field Oct. 27.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, the OSU contest doesn't pencil out as winnable. But the other five are, including Arizona.
For the first time in 2012, UW may have a shootout on its hands. While the Wildcats average 37.0 points per game, they allow 32.7. If Washington can run against Wildcats, who allow 181.8 rushing yards per contest, quarterback Keith Price will finally have an opportunity to do something with a passing attack that ranks 12th and last in the conference and among the least efficient in the nation.
Washington and Arizona have played two common opponents, Oregon and Stanford. Arizona lost to Oregon 49-0 and UW fell 52-21. Arizona lost to Stanford 54-48 (OT) and UW beat the Cardinal 17-13.
Excluding Oregon State (5-0), the teams left on Washington’s schedule – Arizona (3-3), California (3-4), Utah (2-4), Colorado (1-5) and Washington State (2-5) – have a combined record of 11-21.
Assuming a loss to Oregon State, Washington needs to go 3-2 against the other five in order to become bowl eligible at 6-6, same regular-season record the Huskies had last year.
This cannot be what coach Steve Sarkisian had in mind when urged his players to “take it to the next level” before the season, but considering Washington’s schedule and the losses it has suffered on offense through graduation and injuries – the season is almost totally devoid of surprise, or so we see it.
Earlier this week, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez predicted that Washington would end the season in the national rankings. Can't see that happening with Washington's remaining schedule. Which begs this: