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Washington plays its final four regular-season games over the next 21 days. If the Huskies’ conditioning is as good as they believe, it’ll show up this month.
The cynics among us will look at the back-to-back road games against UCLA and Oregon State and bemoan another seven-win season looming.
Optimists can overlook the Arizona State loss as an aberration, and instead point to UW’s true grit at No. 5 Stanford a month ago as a springboard toward a November to remember.
Saturday night’s game against Colorado (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) might not reveal much. It shouldn’t, anyway, if all goes well for Washington. This is a game the Huskies should win in a similar fashion as the California game two weeks ago.
For the record, Colorado looks much improved and should pose a stiffer challenge than Cal, but this is a still a game that a rested UW team should win comfortably at home. I could see a scenario much like UW’s game at Boulder last season, when the Huskies pulled away with 17 third-quarter points en route to a 38-3 victory.
To do that again, and to set themselves up for something even better in the next few weeks, the Huskies need to do two basic things:
Run the ball.
Stop the run.
The Huskies have been better than ever at the former. For all the heat thrown at the UW offensive line lately, give the big guys credit for this: UW is on pace to rush for more than 2,800 yards as a team (assuming a bowl berth), which would eclipse the school record of 2,715 from 1900 (in 12 games).
Junior Bishop Sankey is also on pace to break Corey Dillon’s UW records for rushing yards and rushing average in a season. And without their most established receiver, Kasen Williams (broken leg), the Huskies figure to rely even more on the run going forward.
The UW defense can’t continue to get pushed back, though. The Huskies are allowing 177 yards per game on the ground, ninth in the Pac-12. In 13 games last season, UW allowed 17 rushing touchdowns; the Huskies have already allowed 14 in eight games this season.
That has to stop if this seven-win spin cyle is to end.
The pick: Washington 38, Colorado 20
The Huskies, by the way, will wear their white helmets with a red, white and blue “W” to in honor of Veterans Day:
Around the Pac-12:
— UCLA at Arizona: Reeling from back-to-back losses to Stanford and Oregon (sound familiar?), the Bruins were able to bounce back with a win over Colorado at home last week. The line for this one in Tucson has UCLA as a 1.5-point favorite. B.J. Denker is a much different quarterback for Arizona than we saw in September at Husky Stadium, but I’ll give the edge to Brett Hundley and the Bruins here. The pick: UCLA 34, Arizona 27.
— Arizona State at Utah: The Utes, we know, are excellent at home. The Sun Devils are so-so away from Tempe (just 5-5 at road/neutral sites in Todd Grahams two seasons). Still, it’s difficult to image Utah being able to slow down that ASU offense for four quarters. The pick: Arizona State 35, Utah 21.
— From Thursday night: Stanford 26, Oregon 20: Well, that was a shocker. With how well Marcus Mariota played at Husky Stadium last month, I didn’t think Stanford would have much of a shot at the upset. I had picked Oregon 42-28 in our live chat Thursday. So have at it, folks: I’ll eat all the crow you can send. Sure, Mariota clearly wasn’t healthy, but I’m not sure if it would’ve mattered even if he was. Stanford absolutely owned the line of scrimmage.