Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com wrote today about what he sees as the top 10 “trap games” of 2011 — games in which an unsuspecting national title favorite could be most susceptible to an upset.
No. 3 on his list is Oregon’s visit to UW on Nov. 5, which comes a week before the Ducks travel to Stanford — a game that many figure will decide the Pac-12 North title.
On the surface, UW fans would likely agree with this.
There are all sorts of obvious reasons why Oregon’s trip to UW this year could be the best chance the Huskies have had to beat the Ducks in a while — Washington’s getting better, and the atmosphere should be particularly emotional since it will be the final game in Husky Stadium before its renovation, to name two.
In some ways, however, calling UW a “trap” game for Oregon can also be seen as a sign of how the tables have turned in the rivalry the last decade — and I know none of you want to relive those gory details.
Until about a decade ago, UW was as big as any game on Oregon’s schedule, as heated a rivalry as there was in the conference.
Calling something a “trap game” indicates there’s a danger that the favored would be looking past the foe of that day to the opponent the following week. Has it gotten to that point for Oregon that it no longer considers UW one of its biggest rivals?
I’d doubt many of its fans would say that, especially those with long memories who remember when the tables were turned in Washington’s direction. Players, however, all 18-22 years old, may view it differently.
And frankly, last year’s game in Eugene felt a little perfunctory as Oregon beat UW easily for the seventh straight year.
But I’m not breaking news here to note that all sports are inevitably cyclical.
If, indeed, UW has become an opponent that Oregon could regard as a “trap game,” and not one of its biggest rivalries, just wait — much as the series has turned in Oregon’s direction of late, history indicates it will rotate Washington’s way again at some point.
UW fans obviously hope that comes sooner rather than later.
And I don’t think it’s overstating things — considering Oregon’s status as a longtime rival and the team UW has to beat more than ever now that the Pac-12 is split into two divisions — to say that eventually, the success or failure of Steve Sarkisian’s coaching tenure will depend on making the annual date with the Ducks something that wouldn’t be considered a “trap game.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Phil Steele rates home field advantages using computer rankings based on the last three seasons. So UW inevitably doesn’t rank so well, due in large part to 2008. Steele has UW tied for 67th with a whopping 15 other teams.
— Some UW mentions in Ted Miller’s look at Pac-12 media day.