This week's topic is pretty cut and dry. With two games left on the schedule, Washington is two wins short of bowl eligibility, making each game do-or-die, must-win, pivotal, or whatever cliche you want to use. Coaches talk about the extra practices and exposure as being the benefit of making a bowl game, but really what it comes down to is simple, the teams that don't make bowl games are losing programs, no matter how you spin it, and no stigma is tougher to shake than "losing program".
Will Washington drop one of the last two games and earn the label of a losing program?
Yes! Washington will go bowling.
Nearly all the computers/spreadsheets/fancy algorithms all believe Washington is a better team than anyone remaining on the schedule, and the ones that don't have it as a close match-up with Washington State. So, if you trust our computer overlords, the most statistically probable outcome is 6-6. It might not be 100%, 90%, or even 80%, but the needle is still closer to yes than no.
Even if you don't believe the computers, there has been moments this season where UW has passed the fabled "eye test" and looked like a top tier Pac-12 team, undoubtedly. It's not a question of talent, but much more a question of execution, and if you believe this team will play at their highest level when their backs are against the wall, there's no doubt in your mind they are bowl bound. The two remaining opponents are favorable match-ups, with Washington's strength being their defense and the potentially anemic offense being even, at worst, with two less than stellar defenses. Even though they've struggled scoring points, that shouldn't be a major issue against both these defenses.
Finally, the Apple Cup, which is the toughest of the three match-ups, is in Seattle and not Pullman, which has to matter a little bit. It goes deeper than the crowd noise and
12th Husky faithful and all of that jazz. It's sleeping in your own bed, it's seeing your family or friends before the game, and it's most importantly the ease of escaping the stresses before the game. When you're on the road, you have to create solace, but for home games, you already know where you can find it at, and that's huge.
No, the only bowling Washington will be doing has ten pins and multi-colored shoes.
This team is prone to laying eggs at very inopportune times. I mean, I'll even go as far as to say they're one of the best teams in the country at showing up so disoriented and woefully misguided that you'd think their offensive coordinator was coaching their first ever football game. We're ten games in to this season and the offense has been abysmal anywhere from four to six times, already, which is roughly half the time. I'm not all that familiar with the whole Jekyll and Hyde metaphor, but it doesn't seem likely that the good/evil ratio was split 50/50, like this Huskies offense. If offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith is retained, local stores will have to make sure they carry a healthy stock of Rogaine and stress balls for next season's adventure. That's a much more safe bet than this offense not looking lost in at least one of the two remaining games.
Finally, the giant Crimson and Gray elephant in the room. Washington State is actually good, after years of being bad. Like, they're not relatively good, or good by their standards, but truly, actually good at playing football.
And that's terrifying.
The computers might say that Washington is better than the rivals to the East, but the standings tell a different, and potentially more accurate story. While the Huskies find moral victories and reasons to believe in the future, the Cougs are finding actual victories, which count for more than the hypothetical "just wait until they're Seniors" victories do. We're in a bizzaro universe where Washington State is chasing 10 win seasons (counting a bowl win) and Washington is looking at .500 football like it's not that bad, really. We can talk about how great it is that Washington's defense is basically made for stopping the spread passing attacks, or we can talk about how it doesn't matter because if you give an opponent short fields and enough opportunities, they'll put points on the scoreboard.