Moore: WSU is flying high while UW Huskies sort through their problems
As far as good Saturdays go for a WSU fan, it was tough to beat this one – the Cougs beat a ranked Stanford team on the road while the Huskies lost as 11-point favorites to a so-so Cal team on the road.
Better yet, the Cougs moved into the top 10 in the AP poll while the Huskies fell out of the rankings altogether. Plus there’s controversy and turmoil at Washington, my favorite kind of combination on Montlake.
I know it’s pathetic and small of me, but I enjoy Husky losses as much as Cougar wins. They’re our rival, and in my book, you’re not supposed to root for your rival. Turn it around and I feel the same way – I want Husky fans to root against the Cougs too, but they don’t. They say they root for us in every game except for the Apple Cup. They feel like their biggest rival is Oregon.
That’s fine, do whatever you want, but don’t give me a hard time for reveling in your 12-10 loss at Cal. Ten points?!?! That’s all you could muster against the Golden Bears? And you lost without allowing an offensive touchdown?
I’m piling on this week because of what happened last week. Some Dawg fans felt like it was a win-win for them when we played Oregon. They wanted us to beat the Ducks so they’d be back in a good position to win the Pac-12 North. But then when it appeared we might blow a 27-0 halftime lead and actually lose to the Ducks, that was OK too. In their minds, that would have been the ultimate in Couging it.
Well looky here, the team that’s actually choking is Washington. Where did that national-championship contender go? Where did that Pac-12 championship contender go? Oh, I know, with Oregon losing at Arizona Saturday night, you’re strutting around with your mumbo jumbo about the Dawgs still controlling their own destiny if they win out.
But don’t those seem like hollow thoughts now? With what you’ve seen from the lackluster Huskies this year, a team that might lead the nation in playing below expectations, do you really think they’re going to win the rest of their games? Yes, you have only three left, but at this point I’d say you have a better chance of going 1-2 than 3-0, losing to Stanford and Washington State and sneaking past Oregon State.
Wait, I get it, you still think the Huskies will win the Apple Cup because they always win the Apple Cup. They’ve won the last five Apple Cups by what, an average of 25 points or something in that neighborhood. We’ve been non-competitive, I’ll give you that. But from what you’ve seen from both teams this year, don’t you think that’s about to change?
I don’t see a WSU team that’s going to come up empty this year, especially playing at home. And I don’t see a U-Dub team that looks anything like those U-Dub teams that have crushed us in the last five meetings. I won’t say there’s a new sheriff in town because that wouldn’t be accurate. But how about a new sheriff in the state? That fits a little bit better.
Don’t believe it? We’re ranked No. 10 in the country, and where are you ranked? Oh that’s right, you’re not. We’re 4-1 in conference play, and you’re 4-2.
I realize this could all change in the next month, and that’s why I’m smack-talking now, understanding that it could be bad karma with the football gods putting it back in my face in the coming weeks. But what the heck, might as well enjoy it for now. While we have a blossoming Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, you have one who is being doubted by seemingly everyone, including your coach.
For months and years on end, I’ve been hearing about Chris Petersen ranking in the top 5 or top 10 of coaches all over the country, maybe even the world. But if you’re a top 5 coach, why would you replace your senior quarterback with a freshman when you have the ball at your own 11-yard line? Petersen said he was looking for a spark, but it backfired when the freshman delivered a pick-6 for Cal.
How will this impact Jake Browning psychologically in his last few games? He must have heard the criticism from Husky fans this season, but now his coach doesn’t even have his back. It’s not an ideal scenario for a sputtering offense. Maybe I’d get it if the freshman QB is expected to be your future stud, but he’s not.
And then when Petersen opted to kick a field goal with 4:51 left instead of going for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the Cal 9-yard line? That’s not a top-5 coaching decision. A top-5 coach would have gone for it and either put his team in front 13-12 with a touchdown or given the ball to Cal deep in its own territory and relied on its defense to get the ball back.
Instead, Petersen decided to pull his team within 12-10, hoping that a defensive stop would give his kicker another chance for another field goal and a 13-12 win. Only problem – Washington never got the ball back. I didn’t get that decision at all. As in AT ALL.
So it should be a fun week with the Dawgs sorting through all of their problems with everyone questioning what they’re doing, wondering if they’ll play in the Cheez-It Bowl, while the Cougs assess their national-championship playoff chances. Listen, I think the Washington State offense is national-championship caliber, but if I’m being honest, the Washington State defense is not. But hey, maybe we’ll just outscore everyone the rest of the way with Gardner Minshew putting up pinball numbers throwing to 11 different receivers like he’s done all year already.
Expect plenty of drama and changing storylines the rest of the way.
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