Huard on No. 5 Huskies: 3 things that stand out after statement win

Oct 16, 2023, 11:54 AM | Updated: 1:36 pm

Michael Penix Jr. NFL Draft prospect...

UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr. celebrates a touchdown against Oregon on Oct. 14, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are ranked among the top five teams in the country in the Associated Press college football poll for the first time in six years, and they got there by coming back to beat Oregon 36-33 in an incredible rivalry matchup that more than lived up to the considerable hype surrounding it.

AP Poll: UW Huskies break into top five after huge win over Oregon

“What a win,” Mike Salk said Monday morning on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “What a scene for the University of Washington on national TV with all the eyeballs. Everything that’s been missing from the Pac-12 for however many years, they were all there, man. Everybody was watching, (ESPN’s College) GameDay was here, and boy did these two teams deliver, but specifically the Huskies finding a way to come back and win it late. What an unbelievable, unbelievable Saturday.”

Salk then teed it up for the reaction of his co-host, Brock Huard, and there’s nobody better to speak on this matter. Not only is Huard a former NFL player and current FOX college football broadcaster, but he’s also a UW Huskies legend who quarterbacked the team during a successful period in the 1990s.

“Biggest win in that stadium since you’ve been here – 15 years?” Huard posed to Salk. “… This is Oregon. This is the team that has had your number, you know they love to say 15 of the last 19 (years) or whatever it’s been. It’s not been the last two, I’ll tell you that. Down in Eugene and (Oregon coach) Dan Lanning and crew are feeling that, for sure.”

Let’s break down a few takeaways Brock and Salk discussed coming out of Washington’s big win.

Why this win is UW’s most important in ages

Let’s circle back to when Huard asked Salk if Saturday was the Huskies’ biggest win since the two started their show in Seattle in 2008. Salk initially pointed to a 2016 game when Washington blew out then-No. 7 Stanford 44-6 on its way to making the College Football Playoff that year, but Huard explained that the win over the Ducks was something else entirely to him.

“(The 2016 win over Stanford) was a dismantling on that night. It was 10 sacks and Stanford just couldn’t compete. This was a little different,” he said. “I mean, (Saturday’s game) was two teams loaded with NFL dudes, loaded with a lot of talent, both I think extremely well coached and they played one for the ages. This was not just a blowout, this was not a celebration from beginning to end. This one went down to the final kick and the final wire, and I think for that, you add it all up, this is as big a win as I can remember since the 90s.”

Time to talk title?

At 6-0 now, is it safe to expect the Huskies to be in the mix for the CFP to determine the national champion at the end of the season?

“Well, you take care of business against Arizona State at home, then you gotta go play (at Stanford)… and that place, the Huskies haven’t played particularly beautiful ball down there in front of nobody. But you take care of both of those and you’re 8-0, and then the gauntlet begins,” Huard said. “The games that everybody will remember are in November, and then hopefully a (Pac-12) championship game in December in Vegas. The table is there, it’s all set for you.”

Huard believes Washington may even be able to afford a slip-up now after the Oregon win.

“I don’t know if you’ve gotta go 13-0. I really don’t, and I’d be frankly surprised if they went 13-0 with what’s coming… Now it’s not just Heisman (Trophy candidacy for quarterback Michael Penix Jr.), it’s not just a double-digit win season. Now you legitimately start talking about playoff. And if you get it into a playoff with Texas or with Michigan or Ohio State, or even Georgia, who has sleepwalked through a lot of this year… you get on that stage, this isn’t Washington vs. Alabama in 2016. You get there 12-1, depending on what all that looks like and the health of your team, and there’s so much ball (to go) – I mean, we’re only at the halfway mark, six games in, not even if you go to the championship game so there is a ton of ball to play. But unlike 2016 where you looked at Alabama and Washington, if those two teams play 10 times you’d say Alabama is gonna win eight or nine of those. I don’t think you feel that way about any team in America right now.”

Salk added a point that gave a little more weight to Huard’s statement about not needing to stay undefeated.

“Here’s the thing that jumped out to me after the game – the respect I feel like the Huskies got,” Salk said. “So this game was about a matchup of No. 8 (Oregon) vs. No. 7 (Washington). After the game, the Huskies move up to five, they leapfrog Penn State and Oklahoma. The most interesting thing to me, though, is that Oregon only fell one spot after a loss. They only fell to ninth. That to me is an incredible statement on how much the voters think about the Huskies.”

Where are the UW Huskies vulnerable?

As good as the Dawgs are playing, they’re not perfect. Brock and Salk agree on the one thing that could be a problem down the road.

“Do they have the defensive line and front-seven play to compete with some of those better teams?” Salk asked.

Responded Huard: “They’ve got some of the guys on the edge. I think you still see some of the vulnerability inside.”

That’s what Salk said jumped out to him on Saturday.

“I love their weaponry, I love the dudes they’ve got outside, I love Penix, I like their running game, I like their offensive line,” Salk said. “But if there’s one question mark, I guess it would just be that. Do they have enough on defense? … It’s a good defense, and it came up big in a few really big moments. Is it a good enough defense to get to that point that you’re talking about, which is the national championship kind of conversation, running that gauntlet, playing with Utah, playing with Oregon State, playing with USC? That’ll be an interesting one.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation about the No. 5 UW Huskies in the middle segment of the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.

More on the UW Huskies

Caple: Takeaways from UW Huskies’ epic win over rival Oregon
Oregon laments fourth-down failures in loss to UW Huskies
Recap: Late TD by Penix lifts UW Huskies to wild 36-33 win over Oregon
Bump & Stacy: Is this the end of the Apple Cup for UW and WSU?
New UW Huskies AD Troy Dannen addresses murky future of Apple Cup

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Huard on No. 5 Huskies: 3 things that stand out after statement win