Washington faces Arizona State this week in a game that is going to be very anti-climatic for both teams. Going into the season most pundits had the Sun Devils ranked near the top of the Pac Ten conference standings.
Most people felt that even though ASU had some holes here and there that coach Dennis Erickson could get them filled as he usually does. Instead of competing with USC the Sun Devils have ended up looking more like UCLA this season crawling to a 2-6 record as the UW game approaches.
The story is simple the Devils haven't been able to stop anyone on defense. Injuries and attrition have widened the holes on offense so they haven't been out scoring anyone. A nagging mid season injury to QB Rudy Carpenter and the lack of being able to establish a running game have doomed the team this season.
Last weeks game against Oregon State on the road is a classic example where the Sun Devils were intercepted going for a two point conversion to tie the game with 21 seconds remaing. The result was a 27-25 loss to Oregon State who at 5-3 are only one game away from qualifying for a another bowl game.
Going into the season I had this upcoming game circled as a certain win for ASU. I still have it circled as a win but only because Washington now is a broken team without it's star player led by a lame duck, inept, and fractured coaching staff. It's obvious the team and it's coaching staff have thrown in the towel for 2008.
Count on the Huskies to lay down and play dead like they have for every single game since losing to BYU. Look for ASU to finally find some balance to give Carpenter the time to throw the ball. I figure the Sun Devils will finish with around 400 yards in total offense which should be enough to hold off the Huskies who should have trouble going over 200.
UW shouldn't lose in as bad a fashion as it has over the last two weeks against Notre Dame and USC. Look for the Huskies to be able to punch it in to the end zone a couple of times but the end result will be a 31-14 loss to a struggling 2-6 football team.
This article from an Arizona illustrates the difference between the two struggling clubs. ASU hasn't given up and Washington has.
That "fight through it, keep practicing hard" mantra you've been hearing so much is working. The Devils were their most physical of the season on both sides of the ball. Getting field goals in the red zone instead of touchdowns remains an issue.
Moral victory for ASU?
What Arizona State's Dennis Erickson would allow Sunday about his team's sixth consecutive loss, 27-25 at Oregon State, is that it "reinforce what we're trying to get done. It was a heck of a game to watch, very physical on both sides. We didn't make the plays at the end we need to make.
Last night a few rumors were still swirling around Tyrone Willingham. Word on the street is USC may have been his last game on the sidelines despite the goal of keeping him as coach for the remainder of the season.
The theory was that keeping Willingham would stabilize the situation over the last five games of the season. He would keep the kids in class and prevent the team from descending in to a chaotic situation. What is happening is the exact opposite as it seems his staff is now so fractured they are barely on speaking terms with each other. The impact on the players is obvious.
As usual we will have to wait till the press conference this afternoon to see if Willingham steps all the way down. We know he doesn't want to do it but as I said after the game this situation is actually burying his career rather than making a statement to help it. The team is close to going Mackovic which is the one thing Woodward and the administration want to avoid.
Whatever happens it will be Willinghams situation because while UW may suggest he step down for his own good they aren't going to force his hand. If he wants to go down with the sip it will be his own decision. One thing we have learned about Willingham over the past four years is that he thinks of himself first rather than the good of the program so stay tuned.
Steve Kelley from the Seattle Times chimes in on the subject
If you thought this program still had some pride left, if you thought these players who have given so little this season, might, just might, give it up just this one Saturday afternoon in tribute to the coach who recruited them, you were sadly mistaken.
Nathan Ware and the Seattle PI Dawg Blawg will be having his own Election
While the nation votes for a new president on Tuesday, we'll be having our own little election here on the Dawgblawg. Between 9AM and 4PM, I'll be putting a series of polls on the Blawg. A new poll will appear every 30 minutes. We'll be voting on topics ranging from the Husky Stadium renovation to who you like for the next coach. Make sure you visit the Blawg all day and cast your vote.
A thank you to Bob Sherwin
Seattle Sports Examiner Bob Sherwin filled in for me last week doing the game thread against USC. Bob is one of the top sportswriters in the Pacific Northwest and it was great of him to help me out last weekend.