Huard: Why No. 7 UW Huskies, No. 16 WSU Cougars are for real

Sep 25, 2023, 4:07 PM

UW Huskies Rome Odunze...

Rome Odunze #1 of the UW Huskies carries the ball against Cal on Sept. 23, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies and WSU Cougars went into this college football season with high expectations.

AP Top 25: UW Huskies now Pac-12’s top-ranked team; WSU Cougars rise

Through four weeks, they’re not just exceeding those expectations, with Washington ranked No. 7 in the latest Associated Press poll and Washington State at No. 16. They’ve got a longtime football analyst and former Husky quarterback thinking this could be an historical year for college football in the state.

Brock Huard, who is both co-host of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports as well as a FOX college football broadcaster, said Monday that the success the Dawgs and Cougs are enjoying this year takes him back 26 years to when he was calling signals on Montlake.

“It this the best it’s ever been?” asked Huard’s co-host, Mike Salk.

Answered Huard: “It is pretty awesome. I want to say ’97 when the Cougs go on to their first Rose Bowl in 65 years – that’s the Ryan Leaf show and the plethora of receivers they had and a good offensive line with NFL dudes, and oh by the way a D-line that had multiple NFL dudes. I’m gonna say that ’97 year, when we got banged up and I got banged up and it was not great (for the Huskies), was about the only time that you had relevance (like this for both teams) that I can remember. That is what it’s reminding me of.”

That’s pretty high praise. WSU went 10-2 and ended that 1997 season ranked No. 9 in the final AP poll after narrowly losing to Michigan 21-16 in the Rose Bowl. Huard’s Huskies, meanwhile, started the year ranked No. 4 and finished at No. 18, boosted by a 51-23 Aloha Bowl win over Michigan State.

So what is it about the current Huskies and Cougars teams (both 4-0) that stand out to Huard?

No. 16 WSU Cougars

Washington State quarterback Cam Ward is working himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation, and was even named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday for his performance Saturday in a 38-35 win over No. 19 Oregon State.

“Cam Ward is doing a little bit of what Ryan Leaf did (in 1997),” Huard said, “and that is saying, ‘I don’t care what it takes. I’ll do everything. You want me to run? You want me to extend plays? You want me to throw touchdowns? You want me to start a game 16 for 16?’ I mean, he is just playing lights-out football. You beat Oregon State at home, you beat Wisconsin at home, you throttle people you’re supposed to throttle – I mean, the Cougs have been terrific.”

No. 7 UW Huskies

Across the state, Penix’s Heisman case remains solid thanks to help from his offensive line, which Huard spotlighted after Saturday’s 59-32 blowout win for the Huskies over Cal.

“Let me give some some credit: just one sack in four games,” Huard said of Penix and UW. “Watching the other night, that Husky O-line – holy smokes. Michael Penix is having time back there to pat and pat and pat the football. And then, ‘Let me just sling it here, and let me just sling it there, and let me just get Rome (Odunze) and let me get Jalen (McMillan) and let me get (Ja’Lynn) Polk and let me get everybody involved, because that O-line with a couple NFL dudes is setting the table.'”

It sure seems like this season’s Apple Cup, which for now is the last scheduled due to UW leaving the Pac-12 next year, is shaping up to be an all-time classic matchup.

“These guys are real,” Huard said. “… It is high times in the state of Washington when it comes to college football.”

Listen to the full discussion in the Blue 88 segment of Monday’s Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Brock Huard answers three football questions at 7:45 a.m. during each edition of Brock and Salk, which airs from 6-10 a.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports.

More on UW Huskies and WSU Cougars

Caple’s UW Takeaways: 3 things to know from blowout of Cal
Pac-2 Champs? WSU tops Oregon State 38-35
UW Huskies use 45-point first half to cruise past Cal 59-32
WSU, Oregon State hope to get answers in next month on Pac-12’s future
From Petersen to the portal: How UW Huskies built elite offensive roster

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