The meat of the 2012 schedule arrives with a bang on Thursday night when the Washington Huskies take on the Stanford Cardinal in a nationally televised contest being broadcast on ESPN from Century Link Field.
This game features a young and rapidly developing Stanford offense backed up by one of the best defenses in the country pitted against a Washington squad with an improved defense and an offense that has struggled to run the ball or find an identity.
The Huskies are coming off a 52-13 win over Portland State that surprisingly didn't answer the most glaring questions about the offense. When the Vikings knew the run was coming (that was pretty much all the second half) they were able to do a pretty decent job of containing it.
Fast forward to this week and that will potentially be a big problem against a very physical Stanford defense. The UW offensive line needs to develop some serious push and protection or it could be another long evening for Keith Price and company.
One thing in Washington's favor will be the game time atmosphere. This is what they are calling a blackout game. The fans and the players are all going to be wearing black which means the fans should be all liquored up and loud while the players will be feeling good about their cool uniforms... believe it or not that is a factor.
I forgot who it was but one of the kids told me last year that the black uniforms made them play stronger and faster. They are going to need that against a team that has a four game series winning streak that includes a serious 69-21 clown stomping last season.
But Stanford is different. It's a conference rival, it's been four years of defeats in a row, and the humiliation was nearly as bad as the previous year's 41-0 loss, which Sarkisian acknowledged was the 2010 seasonal low. Plus, it's Stanford, where the coaches and players are so smug they don't even bother to taunt (now that coach Jim Harbaugh has left to taunt NFL coaches).
Kibbles and Bits
Today is the first day of school at the UW. WR Dwayne Washington and CB Travell Dixon are now safely enrolled in school and practicing with the team. The addition of these two athletes is big for 2013 but they will both have important roles on the service teams this fall. The better the competition at practice the better the entire team plays on Saturday.
OL recruit Poasi Moala has decomitted and will supposedly attend UCLA. It is still pretty early in the process and we expect to see a number of recruits flop around before official visits are completed after the holidays. Washington is expected to take around twenty total recruits this season.
Sark and most of the coaches were out on the road recruiting this weekend. According to Scout recruiting guru Greg Biggins, Tosh Lupoi watched Darrell Daniels and Elijah Qualls. Keith Heyward checked out Kevin King before heading south to watch multiple defensive backfield recruits.
Peter Sirmon hit the St. Bonaventure- Santa Margarita game which featured plenty of recruits that Washington either has commitments from (Dane Crane, Connor O'Brien) or are close to committing (Riley Sorenson). Justin Wilcox checked out OT Andrew Kirkland in Portland. Expect quite a bit of Husky recruiting news to percolate through the web today.
Sark was at the Narbonne/Serra watching QB recruit Troy Williams who is committed to UW but is still being seriously chased by Jim Mora and UCLA.
Pac 12 Power Ratings
1. Oregon...The Ducks had a slow start but they just wiped Arizona off the face of the earth in the second half. The Ducks scored 49 points but the key to the win was stopping the Cats six times inside the red zone! Up next will be a merciless scoring fest against hapless Washington State.
2. Stanford...The win over USC was no fluke. The Cardinal have a better overall football program and it showed. The Tree had the week off to prepare for Washington which is probably bad news for the Huskies. After a slow start in the first two games Shaw and company look like they are reloading rather than rebuilding.
3. Southern California...The Trojans bounced back nicely against the Bears but it wasn't exactly like they overpowered them either. Kiffin and his staff aren't really impressing anyone...but at SC only an undefeated record is impressive to a spoiled fan base. The Boys from Troy have the week off to prepare for the Utes.
4. Oregon State...The Beavers passed a huge test when they vanquished the Bruins. It either shows they are real or that Wisconsin and UCLA really aren't very good (I think it is a little of both). This week they travel to Tucson for another victory and possibly some more double/doubles In and Out burgers after the win.
5. Arizona State...A 37-7 win over Utah shows me that the 3-1 Sun Devils are for real and definitely a team to keep an eye on. This week they travel to Berkeley to face a 1-3 Cal team whose season is on the brink before it is even half over. If ASU wins here they are a definite contender for the South division championship.
6. UCLA...The Beavers were able to pretty much stop the Bruin running game and that ended up being the story of a pretty evenly matched football game. UCLA is better under Jim Mora but they are beatable for most of the high to mid level teams in the league. Up next is a Colorado team coming off a rare road win against Washington State.
7. Washington...Was the shot-in-the-arm-confidence building win over Portland State coupled with a bye week the tonic the Huskies need to be competitive with Stanford? Another clown stomping at the hands of the Tree could start the career clock ticking for Sarkisian.
8. Arizona...The Wildcats gave the Ducks a serious game in the first half. They could have scored a lot of points early and that could have changed the nature of the contest. The Beavers are up next at home and the Cats need to finish on offense to have a chance to beat them.
9. California...Zach Maynard isn't getting the job done for the 1-3 Bears. Take solace in these coming comments Golden Bears fans. You are truly the best 1-3 team in the country. Up next is a must win at home against the impressive Sun Devils. Can Jeff Tedford survive...his house is for sale so he must know something is up.
10. Utah...Everyone expected the Utes to be better but they aren't. They just don't have the talent at the skill positions. They are taking this week off before returning to the field to be seriously smoked by the Trojans.
11. Colorado...I never expected these guys to get out of the basement this decade let alone this week but having WSU on your schedule is always a good thing. Can they continue a good thing by surprising UCLA? I really doubt it...but it was nice for Jon Embree and his kids to get a win.
12. Washington State...How these guys could lose such a big lead in the fourth quarter against such a terrible team is just mind boggling unless you are familiar the term Coug-It. Oregon visits this week. Don't let children under the age of 12 watch this football game because of anticipated violence. I don't see another win on the schedule for WSU.