Friday, September 30, 2016

Biggest (Friday) Game Ever?

In just a few hours, the Huskies will take on Stanford in what could be called the biggest game in Husky program history. Pundits and fans alike love to attach superlatives and hyperbole to games in order to make their articles or arguments at The Duchess stand out. Is tonight's game huge? Of course it is. But I don't think we can rush to judgement on how big a game is until AFTER it happens. Let me explain. How many times have we as sports fans looked at a mid-season game and thought, "If we don't win this game you can kiss any kind of championship goodbye!" If you didn't raise your hand where you sit or stand, you are lying.

After the Seahawks were 3-3 in 2014 I told my brother and his friend that I would take them out for drinks for a year if the Seahawks finished any better than 8-8 that season. Hyperbole. Unfortunately my brother doesn't forget a bet. As we all know, they went on to win 10 of the next 11, beat Green Bay in that game and reached the Super Bowl. Did losing to the hapless Rams on the road in week 7 derail the Seahawks chances of obtaining the #1 seed? No. But when we were 3-2 and needed a big win, I bet a lot of people said it was a "must win" game or the season is over.

My point is, we won't know how big this game is going to be until we find out what the rest of the season has in store for us. We could win this game big or small and then lose 3 or 4 more the rest of the season therefore determining that is was just a good win when it happened. We could lose this game and end up being a 1-loss Pac12 team fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff. All I am saying is, if UW wants to be taken seriously as a contender year in and year out, we need to stop pretending that seasons rest on each "big" game that comes up on the schedule.

Don't get me wrong, the stakes are high tonight. A top-ten matchup at Husky Stadium on a Friday night (sorry commuters on any major arterial this evening) in front of a sold out crowd on national TV without any other competing games except the poor high schoolers who play on Friday nights who are really only thinking about the school dance later that night and which cheerleader to inappropriately grind a big deal. Stanford has been tough against the Huskies recently. Stanford has won the last 3 matchups and 7 of the last 8 in generally convincing fashion. Two years ago at Husky Stadium was supposed to be the one that got us over the hump. Two hard hitting defenses with mediocre offenses presented UW with a chance to tough one out. Shaq Thompson was doing some surreal things on the field that season and sure enough he stripped the ball and ran it back for the Huskies only touchdown that day. But alas, it wasn't enough and another opportunity in a "massive" game went by the wayside. See, that season we were undefeated after a crappy non-conference schedule. Stanford was undefeated ranked #16 and this was supposed to show the country that despite our easy non-conference schedule, we could still hang with the big boys (sound familiar). Hang we did; but no win.

For tonight's purposes, let's hope that this game will mean something big.

On that note, here is how it shakes out. Stanford is the same tough, bruising, big bodied team they have been since they decided to take football seriously about 10 years ago (see: BFWD posts in this blog). David Shaw is a master of the big lines, few really talented skill players and nominal QB system that has sent them to the Rose Bowl and kept them in the conversation for national championship in recent years. Nothing else is all that different than most years except they have Ed McCaffrey's son (Christian), who just so happens to be the reigning Heisman runner-up and coming off a season where he set the all time mark for all purpose yards AND put up more than 300 yards against the Dawgs last year. Stopping him and keeping him inside the tackles is going to be key for the Huskies. He is obviously dangerous when he breaks free and keeping a spy on him will be crucial to winning tonight. One of the WR's is out for Stanford and their QB is just OK, which has always worked for them.

On the other end, the Huskies need to keep the offense going without dumb turnovers or not making fourth down conversions. Both the Huskies and Stanford had ugly wins last week, which these programs love and appreciate. The Huskies have a few more weapons on offense and aren't nearly as one dimensional as the Cardinal, but they have to put it all together if they want to beat the likes of Stanford. The Cardinal will be missing two of their starting cornerbacks, so it will be crucial to get quick slants and the occasional deep ball going. The UW defense is solid and needs to be better than last week, but I like going against a quarterback who can't run for an 80 yard touchdown against us. That makes this a great matchup for the Huskies and like every year with Stanford will come down to the trenches.

I do think this is a game that the Huskies can win, but somebody around here has to be the pessimist. It just doesn't seem to all add up to a program defining win tonight because of past precedent, but man do I hope I am wrong.

The Pick: Stanford 24, UW 21

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back by "Popular Demand"...

....and by "Popular Demand" I mean one person. Kind of like that one time 2 years ago one person requested Ricky Martin's Living La Vida Loca to a radio station and they played it. I am the DJ that played a Ricky Martin Song.

It has been almost EXACTLY two years since I posted in the blog for the Husky Loyal Army. A lot has changed. The Huskies have gone from zero hype and mediocre results to an inordinate amount of hype and yet to be seen results.

Chris Petersen or Coach Pete or Coach Carlos (nobody calls him that) has turned around the program liked we had all hoped. Here we are in Week 4 of the 2016 season and the Dawgs are ranked #9 in the country after all the offseason hype and a trio of great wins against terrible teams.

The Huskies are finally going up against a conference foe for the first time this season, and it just has to be in the State of Arizona. With so much going for the Dawgs this season it is only fitting that their first real test is in Sheriff Arpaio country. UW has been dominated in Arizona as much as an undocumented Mexican has been by the aforementioned Arpaio...for the last 10 years. The Dawgs have not won in the Grand Canyon State since I graduated from college in 2006 (for an easier reference, that was the year the Crocodile Hunter and Saddam Hussein died. Too depressing, alright, the Wii was introduced that year).

Each year I essentially count the game against the Arizona school on the road a loss. The Huskies haven't proven that they can win in that hotness, especially when it is a night game in September. There have been years where you feel like, "this year is different." And then sadly, it is not. Kind of like how you said this was the year you were finally going to get ripped like Will Smith in I Am Legend, it just aint happening. But seriously, this year is different.

The Huskies have been one of the most balanced teams in the country so far. Again, we have been playing a JV schedule so far, but the Huskies MO over the years has been to play down to the level of their competition; that finally has not been the case so far. The Dawgs are leading the Pac 12 in both points for AND points against through three games; that is not very common, even if they are playing the equivalent of those poop stains that get left over in the toilet bowl the morning after a long night of drinking beer.

Arizona has been terribly inconsistent so far this season. Bear Down lost a close game to BYU in a "neutral site" game, had to come back against Grambling at home (yeah, Grambling) and beat up on Hawaii (the team that has travelled 50,000 miles so far this season, who schedules a game in Australia?). The quarterback play has been spotty due to injuries, and the fact Anu Solomon can't replicate any of the highlight plays he has had over the last couple of seasons. The defense is terrible. Not Arizona State terrible, but atleast Hannah Montana terrible.

UW is favored by a couple of touchdowns going into this game. I like the confidence from outside sources like the city of Las Vegas, but it still scares me thinking the Dawgs are playing confident on the road in Arizona. A win has not been easy in the desert regardless of the circumstances, and even though everything stacks up well for UW tonight; that is what frightens me the most.

I am praying that my blog post and the hype machine aren't what jinx the Dawgs in Arizona tonight. If they play their game, the Huskies should win by atleast 10.

Let's hope this is the first hurdle the Dawgs can get over this season. Some momentum going into Friday's big showdown against Stanford and the impending road game against Oregon the week after.

Glad to be back, I have missed all.....1 of you. Here is to doubling the comments in the comments section today (if you go from 0 to 1, is that doubling?)

The Pick: UW 35, Arizona 24