No mourning after for UW today as the Huskies are coming off a win over the No. 7-rated Oregon State Beavers — the highest-rated team Washington has beaten since the memorable win over No. 3 USC in 2009.
It’s a quick turnaround now for UW with a game Friday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 at Cal. But UW obviously goes into the shortened week with a much better feeling than the last three.
And suddenly, thoughts that the Huskies could run the table and finish 8-4 and better last year’s record seem realistic.
Consider that UW’s first seven BCS foes (I’m throwing out the Portland State game) are a combined 44-12 while the next four are now a combined 9-24. It’s probably worth noting that this is one year when UW is benefiting from the new Pac-12 (as are most conference teams) getting to play newcomers Utah and Colorado (a combined 4-12) instead of UCLA and Arizona State.
That road to a bowl game and a good season might look different with, say, a trip to UCLA instead of Colorado and a home game against Arizona State and its spread offense instead of Utah. But goes without saying UW hardly needs to apologize for its schedule so far.
And consider that if UW could run the table, and then win a bowl game, it would be the best record for the Huskies since the 11-1 Rose Bowl season of 2000. So yes, the win last night was a real potential game-changer in terms of how this season is perceived — and how the Huskies will be perceived heading into 2013 with virtually all of the key pieces from this year’s squad returning.
There was lots of talk in the post-game about the motivation the team felt it received from the John Canzano column. Who knows how much that really played a role? The reality is the Huskies simply played a much better game than they had the last few weeks.
Consider that UW had nine pass breakups after coming into the game with 14 for the season. It was maybe the best special teams game of the season in terms of coverage and winning the net yardage battle on punts and kickoffs and also hitting two critical field goals. The rebuilt offensive line allowed just two sacks and set a tone with some crucial rushing yards early. Kasen Williams made a couple big plays, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins got the game-winning drive going with a big play, as well.
And while statistically it wasn’t the most impressive game of the year for the defense, it was a really physical and opportunistic one, the early hit by Sean Parker on Markus Wheaton setting a tone on that side, and guys like Parker, John Timu, Josh Shirley and Talia Crichton playing as well as they had all season.
For now, a few links. …
— UW is technically 33rd in the AP poll today, all of the points coming by being voted 18th by Josh Kendall of The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. He has consistently had UW higher than anyone else all season — here’s his poll this week.
— Here’s UW’s official NCAA stats page for this week. Still lots of low rankings, but you’d figure a lot of those could improve against the schedule that is to come.
— The CoachSark blog names its Players of the Game.
— Here’s the report from Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com..
— Gemmell also gave Parker a helmet sticker.
— Lots of links on the game from The Oregonian’s Oregon State Rundown.
— Lots of Pac-12 links from Ken Goe.
— Jon Wilner reviews the Pac-12 weekend.
— CBSSports.com with the best and worst of the Pac-12 weekend.
— Lots of Pac-12 links from Christian Caple.
— Finally, here are some highlights from the Pac-12: