An obvious subplot of tomorrow’s game at USC is that it presents Washington with another chance to beat a ranked team — something it has yet to do this year.
It’s also something it may not get a chance to do again this year. The last two regular season games are against Oregon State and WSU, neither of whom will be ranked, and there’s no guarantee of meeting a ranked team in a bowl game.
Heading into Saturday’s game, UW is 0-3 against ranked teams this year, losing each by 13 or more points.
The Huskies are 5-9 against ranked teams in the Steve Sarkisian Era but are trending in the wrong direction. After a 4-3 start against ranked teams under Sarkisian, UW is 1-6 in its last seven against ranked foes, the win coming against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Each of the losses has been by 13 or more points, four by 30 or more.
So if you ever wonder why the jury is still out on the Huskies, look no further. USC is the lowest-ranked of the four-ranked teams UW will face this year. But being on the road and against a team that appears to be improving and is unquestionably talented, a win for UW tomorrow would add a lot of validity to the rest of the apparent progress the Huskies have made this season.
Given all of that, however, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at UW’s games against ranked teams since Sarkisian took over as head coach. The ranking is the one the opponent had in the Associated Press poll the week of the game:
Vs. No. 11 LSU, lost 31-23 — Huskies were surprisingly competitive in what was the opening game of the Sarkisian era, outgaining the Tigers 478-321.
Vs. No. 3 USC, won 16-13 — Huskies pulled off the first big upset of the Sarkisian era against Pete Carroll and the Trojans, who were without injured quarterback Matt Barkley.
Vs. No. 12 Oregon, lost 43-19 — Ducks used some big special teams plays to blow open a close game in the first half and pull away to another win in this series. Oregon finished with 416 yards.
Vs. No. 19 Cal, won 42-10 — A week after the Bears got a big win over Stanford to move back into the rankings they were blasted by UW in Seattle as Jake Locker played maybe his best game for the Huskies, completing 19-23 passes.
Vs. No. 8 Nebraska, lost 56-21 — Cornhuskers used 383 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns to blow out the Huskies.
At No. 18 USC, won 32-31 — UW overcame 298 rushing yards by the Trojans to march down the field in the final minutes and pull off a second-straight last-second win over USC (each on Erik Folk field goals).
Vs. 24 Oregon State, won 35-34 in double overtime — UW blew an nearly 21-0 lead, then held on when OSU missed on a pass on a two-point conversion attempt to end the game.
At No. 15 Arizona, lost 44-14 — Huskies were dominated from start-to-finish in Tucson allowing 467 yards.
Vs. No. 13 Stanford, lost 41-0 — Cardinal led 28-0 at halftime in handing UW its first home shutout loss since 1976.
At No. 1 Oregon, lost 53-16 — Huskies kept it close for about 35 minutes before the Ducks pulled away in what was the first career start for Keith Price at QB, subbing for an injured Locker.
Vs. No. 18 Nebraska, won 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl — UW got revenge against the Cornhuskers in a shocking turnabout from the earlier game, holding Nebraska to just 91 yards rushing.
At No. 11 Nebraska, lost 51-38 — A couple controversial penalties and turnovers helped turn the tide in a disastrous third quarter, though Nebraska also dominated on the ground, rushing for 309 yards.
At No. 7 Stanford, lost 65-21 — Huskies could simply never stop Stanford’s rushing game as the Cardinal gained a school-record 446 yards on the ground.
Vs. No. 6 Oregon, lost 34-17 — Oregon used a big third quarter to pull away from UW in the last game in Husky Stadium before its renovation.