I thought about starting this post with a question about where UW's first win was going to come from. But, seriously, outside a few Hawaii fans lurking around our blog, we would have had nearly 100% agreement on the trip to Honolulu being Chris Petersen's first win as a Husky.
So, let's turn the tables and discuss where you all think the Huskies first loss of the season will come from. I've outlined the three most likely possibilities - at least in my mind - below. I debated the idea of having an option for "undefeated" but thought the better of it. This is the Pac 12 after all.
Option #1 - vs. Stanford (Week 5)
Most people look at the Stanford game as the first big test in the Petersen era for a Huskies team that has a pretty reasonable ramp up period in the first four weeks of the season. If the Huskies reach this game 4-0, then there should be pretty significant media hype around this contest given the stand-offish manner in which these two teams have battled in the past two seasons. An interesting subtext to this contest is the fact that most national pundits consider the head coaches of these two teams to be the finest in the Pac 12..
Reasons UW May Lose: Stanford is reloading, but continues to show depth in the trenches; Shaw's "slow it down" game plan is proven kryptonite to the up-tempo offenses of the Pac; Stanford has the more experienced QB
Reasons UW May Win: This is a UW home game; Stanford may still be working out the kinks in acclimating four new starting offensive linemen, a new feature back and a whole new set of playmaking defenders; Petersen > Shaw
Option #2 - @ Oregon (Week 7)
Good buddies Mark Helfich and Chris Petersen rekindle their friendship on the gridiron when Petersen leads his Huskies to Autzen in Week 7. If the Huskies somehow manage to get past Stanford and then handle their business at Cal in Week 6, then there is a good chance that this is match-up between two top 15 (if not top 10) programs. While the Huskies record in Eugene in the last decade is pretty much a disaster, it is important to note that Chris Petersen won the last time he led Boise State there against Chip Kelly.
Reasons UW may Lose: The Ducks are an elite team with elite talent; the UW rush D may not be ready for a full assault against a tough Oregon O-Line; Mariota effect; Traveling to Eugene is brutal
Reasons UW may Win: Karma; Petersen > Helfrich; Oregon may overlook UW; Dumb luck
Option #3 - vs ASU (Week 8)
To get to this point, the Huskies will obviously have had to achieve a 3-0 record against North Division opponents before taking on their first P12 South team, in this case at home against Todd Graham and the Sun Devils. I can't imagine the absolute giddiness that Husky fans will be feeling should UW get this far into the season without suffering a loss, especially having gone through both Oregon and Stanford to do it.
Reasons UW may Lose: Emotional letdown from Week 7; ASU's Defense may turn out better than assumed; ASU may still be riding high from the thumping on UW a year ago.
Reasons UW may Win: The magic of Husky Stadium; Cold weather factor for a traveling desert team; North > South
@ Oregon (Week 7)
First, let me start by saying that I have some nervousness that we may get knocked off even before we get to Stanford. Eastern Washington has demonstrated a "what the hell" attitude in every FBS game they've played in over the past five years and are dangerous. Likewise, you never know when a Big 10 team, even one like Illinois, might catch lightning in a bottle. That said, I think we can mostly agree that UW has a great shot at starting 4-0.
Then, I'm betting that we can get past Stanford at home. I can already hear Brad and Kirk chirping in my ear about how I continue to exhibit over-confidence in UW's ability to handle Stanford. This may well be the case. However, I can't help but to wonder how far along Stanford will be in breaking in their new O-Line and how much chemistry will have been established between them and whomever is toting the rock. If that hasn't gelled, I don't think Shaw will be ready to unleash a full aerial attack and, thus, I can see UW pulling a close one out.
Oregon will, therefore, be the first loss of the season. Since 2008, Oregon has only lost three times at home (ironically, one of those to Chris Petersen) and comes into 2014 with all of the things you need to keep a home win streak going - a Heisman-worthy QB, a veteran O-Line, a strong pass D and a killer running game. I definitely want to give UW a puncher's chance, but this is the most likely first loss of the season in my book. No shame in it whatsoever.