The Husky football season is over halfway done, and sadly, the season has been a disappointment thus far, to say the least. After losing two of their last three games, the Huskies find themselves almost completely eliminated from Pac 12 title contention — something fans were expecting coming into the year. So, what happened?
In almost every preseason poll, the Huskies were ranked 15th or higher in the nation, and were expected to be in the running for their second consecutive Pac 12 championship. Going back to week 2 of the season, it was clear that they did not have the elite defense they have had in past years, after unranked California ran for 192 yards on the ground and won the game 20–19.
Fast forward almost two months later, and the Huskies are coming off a similar loss to Oregon, who has solidified themselves as a national title contender. Their front seven on defense simply could not keep up with the Oregon rushing attack surrendering 154 yards.
Coming out of halftime, it looked like the Huskies could put the game away early after easing down the field for an opening drive touchdown, extending their lead to 28–14. But the offense sputtered the rest of the half — something the defense could not afford, and the Ducks ended up outscoring UW 21–3 the rest of the game.They went on to eventually win 35–31.
The Huskies had a chance to win it after Oregon scored their last touchdown of the game with five minutes left to play. But their last chance efforts were cut short after a referee missed a clear pass inferience call on 4th and 4 that would have extended the Huskies’ drive. Even with the missed call, UW had multiple chances to extend their lead, but they simply could not find any offensive rhythm in the 4th quarter.
“I thought it was a well-played college football game. We did a nice job against a good football team,” head coach Chris Petersen said in his opening statement during the postgame press conference. “Our kids played hard, like they always do, and we will keep grinding. There is a lot of football left to play.”
He’s right when he says there is a lot of football left to play, but sadly the stakes will not be as high as they have been in past years during the final stretch. UW’s three year streak of appearing in a New Year’s Six bowl game will most likely come to an end and they will have to settle for a lower tier bowl.
Although this season will be looked at as a disappointment by most people, this is a sign that the program is where it is supposed to be. Expectations will always be high for this team now that it has tasted success, and anything below a nine or ten win season will be seen as a negative. Five years ago, the goal was always to simply win six times and go to a bowl game. Petersen has raised the bar so much higher for the Huskies, and has this program on the right track to eventually win a national championship.
There are a ton of positives to look at this season including the play of quarterback Jacob Eason and the breakout seasons from young wide receivers Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum. I expect Petersen and his coaching staff to start mixing in some of the younger players to give them a shot now that they are out of title contention.
Coming up, the Huskies will try and ruin the playoff hopes of Utah in a November 2nd showdown at home then making the trips to Oregon State and Colorado before finally finishing the regular season with the 112th annual Apple Cup in Seattle.