clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Which Pac-12 teams does Washington play best, worst?

Breaking down which Pac-12 opponents Washington fares well against and which ones they don't.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

We sometimes take for granted how far the Washington program has come in the past 10, even just seven years, primarily because it still has a long ways to go to where it was even 14-15 years ago. Where the Huskies have particularly lagged is against the Pac-12's best programs. Think about this, the Huskies are a horrifying 6-37 against Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA & USC (basically the top half of the Pac-12) the past 10 seasons.

With that in mind, I thought it would be good to rank how well the Huskies play their Pac-12 foes in recent history (the past 10 seasons) as we head into 2015.

Teams are ranked from best played to worst played.

1. Colorado( 4-0)

The Huskies dominate Colorado in the way that they should a program that is as bad as Washington was under Gilbertson and Willingham. Sweeping the Buffs means nothing right now, but I will give the Huskies credit for owning them they way they should.

High point - 2011 (52-24 win) The Huskies utterly rolled Colorado to open the Pac-12 season 3-0 and get into the Top 25. Times were good.

Low point - 2014 (38-23 win) Hard to argue with a 15-point road win, but the Huskies got off to a really slow start and this was in the middle of a dark stretch where it served as the only win in five games.

2. Utah (2-0)

Small sample size, but the Huskies handled their business against the Utes in their two meetings.

High point - 2011 (31-14 win) Also part of that fun start to 2011 Pac-12 play, the Huskies rolled into a raucous Salt Lake City for Utah Pac-12 premiere and dominated them from start to finish in a thorough win.

Low point - None

3. Cal (7-3)

The Huskies have had Cal's number the past eight years and it has to kill Bears fans in the way Arizona's State unbalanced dominance of the Huskies does Washington fans. Washington hasn't lost to Cal since Willingham was coaching and the Bears can't seem to catch a break against the Huskies.

High point - 2010 (16-13 win) A road win that kept bowl hopes alive that was won on a gutsy play on a ballsy call. The end of this game was one of the most joyous moments in recent Husky football history.

Low point - 2005 (17-56 loss) Any hope of a somewhat reasonable turnaround under Willingham went up in smoke when the Huskies got utterly destroyed at home against a good, but nothing special Cal team.

4. Washington State (6-4)

This record might seem underwhelming, but that is because of Willingham's confounding horrible record in the Apple Cup. The Huskies have only lost in the Apple Cup once since Willingham left in a crazy overtime game in Pullman. Other than that one hiccup, the Huskies have controlled their rivals as well as they have any original Pac-12 team other than Cal.

High point - 2010 (35-28 win) The Huskies have had a few much more comfortable wins than this one, but none more satisfying than this one since it secured a bowl for the Huskies for the first time in ages. Bonus points for getting a win in Pullman when it just kept liked the Cougars had that underdog Apple Cup magic.

Low point - 2012 (28-31OT loss) A nightmare. The Huskies were well on their way to five-straight wins, a fourth-straight Apple Cup, a good bowl game and the most season wins they have had in more than 10 years when disaster struck, like 1 miraculous plays happened against the Huskies and they lost to a hapless Cougar team.

5. Arizona (5-5)

The Huskies have really gone back and forth with Arizona. For whatever reason they were probably the Pac-12 team that Willingham played best. Since Willingham, the Huskies have won at home and lost on the road in painful fashion.

High point - 2011 (42-31 win) This was a very nice bounce-back win after a disappointing loss at Stanford where the Huskies seemed to show that they could get a comfortable win over a Pac-12 opponent that wasn't absolutely horrible.

Low point - 2012 (17-52 loss) A pretty solid Husky team simply got utterly manhandled by an equally-solid Arizona team. This one was particularly painful because it showed that the Huskies were still not over getting blasted by teams of equal or lesser talent.

6. Oregon State (4-6)

This one is skewed negative due to Willingham somehow getting blanked by the Beavers. The Huskies have played the Beavers well ever since, pulling off two huge wins against good Beavers teams at home in 2010/12 and blasting bad Beaver teams in 2013/14. It hasn't all been Roses since Willingham though as Sarkisian got blasted in Corvallis in 2009 by a Beaver team the Huskies should have been able to compete with to crush their bowl hopes and lost by 17 in 2011 to a legitimately bad Beaver team.

High point - 2012 (20-17 win) The Huskies got a huge win against a Top 10 (albeit grossly overrated) Beaver team that they really needed to take the sting off of three-straight ugly losses. This was one of the biggest wins of the Sark era.

Low point - 2011 (21-38 loss) The Huskies lost a game they should have won against a bad Beaver team. This one was made more painful due to a bungled move by Sark to sit an injured Keith Price only to put him in later.

7. USC (2-6)

Despite the record, the Huskies have actually played the Trojans fairly well in recent history, even under Willingham who gave them tight games in 2006/07. They scored huge wins in Sark's first two seasons  and have only been blown out three times, no small feat, considering how good USC was from 2005-08.

High point - 2009 (16-13 win) Sark scored the biggest win of his career in just his third game in Seattle as the Huskies pulled off a miracle against Pete Carroll and the Top Five-ranked Trojans. This win quickly showed that a new and very improved era of Husky football was upon us.

Low point - 2012 (14-24 loss) The Huskies have lost a lot more lopsided games against the Trojans recently, but none hurt as much as this one because the Huskies had a golden opportunity to beat an overrated USC team but completely fumbled it away (literally).

8. Stanford (2-7)

The Huskies have actually played Stanford really well the past few years, even if it hasn't shown up in the win column. They struggled against a bad Stanford program under Willingham other than one gimme win and pulled out one huge upset under Sark, but mainly got trucked by the Andrew Luck-led teams.

High point - 2012 (17-13 win) A gutty win with an epic performance from the Husky defense and Bishop Sankey made it seem as if the Huskies had finally arrived as a team that could compete at the highest level of the Pac-12 North for a moment.

Low point - 2006 (3-20 loss) The infamous "Suddenly Senior" game (an aside, Willingham may have actually been ahead of the curve on something here) where the Huskies shot their bowl chances in an embarrassing loss at home where they handed a Stanford team that was amongst the worst in conference history their only win of the season.

9. UCLA (2-6)

Forget the Ducks, the Bruins have maybe been the most frustrating Pac-12 rival for the Huskies throughout history. Case in point, the Huskies have the same record against a Bruin program that was a mess until a few years ago that they do against all mighty USC. In recent history, the Huskies were only able to grab a strange win 2006 with Willingham before Isaiah Stanback got hurt and an ugly win in 2010 when UCLA stunk. Other than that, it has pretty much been frustrating futile battles.

High point - 2006 (29-19 win) For a brief flash, there was serious life in the Willingham era. The Huskies followed up a strong performance at Oklahoma and a win over Fresno State with a 10-point win over a decent UCLA team that got Husky Stadium rocking for the first time in a few years.

Low point - 2009 (23-24 loss) This one burned because the Huskies blew a second half lead in a game they should have won because of interceptions and a missed field goal. The loss probably cost them a bowl game and their first win at UCLA in more than a decade at the time.

10. Arizona State (0-8)

Oh the Sun Devils... Washington's futility against the Sun Devils is equal parts confusing and frustrating. The Huskies haven't beaten Arizona State since 2001 and struggled against the Sun Devils under Sark even with the programs were on equal footing. Arizona State simply has Washington's number and for reasons that are not clear.

High point - 2006 (23-26OT loss) Hard to pick one, but this was about as close as Washington has got to beating Arizona State since 2001.

Low point - 2013 (24-53 loss) Sark's annual blowout in Arizona particularly stung because the Huskies made a good, not great Arizona State team look like they were playing a high school team and because it capped a three-game losing streak with back-to-back blowout losses.

11. Oregon (0-10)

We all know what is going on here, no need to break it down. The most concerning thing though is that as far as the Huskies have come since 2004 and 2008, the Ducks have only seemed to go farther than where they themselves were at the point and haven't stalled the way Washington has on their way up.

High point - 2013 (24-45 loss) Sad that a 21-point loss is a high point, but this is the best Washington played Oregon the past 10 years with both teams at full strength (They were closer in 2007, but Oregon wasn't what they became in the 2010s and played closer in 2011, but the Ducks idled quickly in that game as they prepped for a monster showdown with Stanford the next week). The Huskies kept it a one-score game into the fourth before their defense wore down and Oregon pulled away.

Low point - 2012 (21-52 loss) There have been too many Duck blowouts to list, but none hurt more than this one because it seemed like the Huskies might have stepped up in the North after beating Stanford the week before and because the Ducks ended the game in the first quarter.