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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 1, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Sunday night notes — and a couple of picks

A couple quick notes and links — and then a couple of bowl picks — for a New Year’s night. …

— There were a few rumors at midday that Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake might also be in the mix for the new vacancy at UW. But according to a couple of different Tweets, it has apparently been reported through the University of Utah that Sitake is not leaving Utah. That figures to be just the first of many rumors, however, until UW makes a hire.

— There are obviously a lot of unknowns right now about the Huskies that make looking ahead a little difficult. But it’s the tradition to write a story projecting what the next year’s team might look like a few days after the season ends, so here’s my story on that topic for the Monday paper. (And also worth a reminder that this was a story for the paper, which means it had to be a certain length, which means I couldn’t list every player on the roster. So not listing someone doesn’t mean anything other than that I listed who figure to be the main players at those spots as we know it right now. I plan to do overviews of each position over the next few weeks now that in the blog format can be a little more detailed).

— Jan. 1 being a Sunday means the New Year’s Day bowl games fall back a day. That sometimes catches people off-guard, but it’s a tradition as old as the Rose Bowl itself, which has never been played on a Sunday, a practice the other bowls followed. Two of UW’s most famous Rose Bowls were actually played on Jan. 2 — the 17-7 win over Minnesota in 1961, which clinched what the school now recognizes as a share of the national title for the 1960 team, and the 27-20 win over Michigan in 1978 that jumpstarted the Don James era.

— Speaking of the New Year’s Day bowls, I had meant to make predictions on every Pac-12 bowl in this space, but the Alamo Bowl and its aftermath (as well as some goofy travel) got in the way.

But I’m fresh off a good call on the Alamo Bowl — I picked Baylor to win by 11, the exact margin of victory (though I was way under the total, picking it 45-34 and not the 67-56 we saw, but I don’t remember seeing anyone pick that score). So I’ll venture forward with picks on Monday’s games involving Oregon and Stanford.

As for the Rose Bowl, I’ll go with Oregon by a count of 31-27. This is a big game for the Ducks to shed the label of being unable to win a BCS bowl, and to prove that its offense can be its usual explosive self against a good team that has time to prepare. Statistically, Wisconsin’s defense is better. But the hunch here is that’s also due in part to going against a lot of mediocre Big Ten offenses — the Badgers allowed 37 and 39 points in their two games against Michigan State and 33 against Ohio State. The key to beating Oregon is generally to hold down the run enough to make the Ducks throw more than usual (or more in situations when they don’t want to). But the Badgers weren’t the greatest run defense team at No. 47 nationally, and didn’t face a team that runs as well as Oregon did this year. So I’ll call for the Ducks to get the win and restore some Pac-12 pride.

As for Stanford, it faces Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl in what in some ways may be the most intriguing game of the post-season. Both are teams that it seemed people all season just didn’t want to believe were really as good as the numbers they were putting up — one will get that much more credibility and likely the No. 2 spot in the final national rankings. Statistically, OSU’s defense was shaky at times this year. But it also came up big in most of the Cowboys’ marquee games, including a 59-24 win over Baylor and 44-10 over Oklahoma. Stanford, meanwhile, had some injuries down the stretch that contributed to seeming not to play quite as well as it had earlier in the season. I think Stanford’s issues at receiver will prove just enough to allow the Cowboys to pull it out. Call it Oklahoma State 37, Stanford 28.

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