(This is the final article in a week long series sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011)
Everyone expects Washington to be improved in 2010. Most also expects Washington to have a dynamite offense led by Jake Locker, Chris Polk, and Jermaine Kearse. The defense has some question marks concerning depth at certain positions, but the coaches finished spring feeling pretty confident.
The schedule is a killer yet we all expect Washington to win at least eight games this season. Lets take a closer look at that schedule by breaking it up into three categories...Wins, Swing Games, and Longshots.
Wins...These are games I feel pretty confident about. I guess you could put BYU in the "Swing" category but I think we are getting them at the right time.
@ Brigham Young
Playing in Provo is always tough but Washington should have enough of an edge offensively to defeat a rebuilding BYU squad on the road. This game will be competitive into the fourth quarter and the zebras are always a concern on the road in Provo.
Nobody puts baby in the corner and nobody loses to Syracuse at home.
ASU is similar to Nebraska. Good defense and bad offense...but this is a real bad offense and not as good a defense. We get the Devils at home this year and UW will be favored. Tough to believe we lost to these guys last year.
Rick Neuheisel pulled one out of his shorts when UCLA beat UW last season. The loss knocked UW out of bowl contention. A missed UW field goal and a late interception gave the Bruins the win. Washington was a better team last year and they are the better team this season.
@ Washington State
The Cougars have to be better this year but will not be good enough to beat Washington. The gap stays at around 30 points even on the road. That being said this is the Apple Cup and the game will be played in Pullman.
Swing Games...These could go either way and each of these teams will likely spend some time being ranked this season if not the entire season.
This one could really go either way. Washington has the offense and Nebraska has the defense. Washington needs to stop the Husker running game. Washington needs to take the lead and let Nebraska chase them. When Nebraska is forced to throw they traditionally aren't at their best. If this game was on the road I would have to call it a longshot.
The Beavers seem to have an edge with a defense that is fast and deep at most positions. OSU is breaking in a new QB but there is plenty of all star help in the backfield. Vegas is predicting a UW win at this point. I am not so sure but if UW wants to make some noise they have to knock off an Oregon school.
The Wildcats lose a number of starters but they return some key players. Washington was not the better team last year even though they won. Perhaps brushing up on bubble screen may be helpful? I see a lot of holes at Arizona that need to be filled. I also think they peaked last season. I have to call it a toss up.
The Cardinal seem ahead of us in development and depth even though they lose Toby Gerhart. What makes me think that is the play I saw on the Cardinal lines last season. They physically dominated us. This is a maturing program which is still on the upswing.
The last two times we have played California at home we have spanked them. We know one thing...the Bears don't like playing in Seattle during November and December. This is a winnable game on the road but no sure thing. It helps to have it at the end of the year because the Bears haven't been finishing well as of late.
Longshots...I wouldn't call any game a for sure loss this season, but playing these two teams on the road is never going to be a picnic. These are two squads that are capable of a top ten performance this season. These are also two squads which could lose their focus.
@ Southern Cal
At first glance this isn't a good draw for Washington. It is a conference opener on the road against a team with a chip on its shoulder. Notice how the oddsmakers haven't given out a line on this game yet? USC is obviously the favorite but the margin is narrowing. Nobody knows exactly how this team will respond to a new staff and probation.
I would love for this to be the year we beat the Ducks but even with the disciplinary attrition Oregon is still a solid and favorite to win the Pac 10 crown. The Ducks have depth, talent, and speed. The main concern will be the passing game. We will see how the season progresses but I don't see us winning in Eugene at the moment.