In advance of tomorrow’s game, we’ve taken a look at Idaho’s offense, defense, and special teams, and spoken to Anthony Messenger of Underdog Dynasty. All that’s left is for us to make our picks and watch the game unfold tomorrow. Do we think that Washington will play like the top-10 team that it is, or will Idaho pose a stiffer-than-expected challenge to the Huskies?
With Washington having posted a dominant victory over a Power 5 opponent last week, it's only natural that fans and the betting public expect the Huskies to decisively take care of business tomorrow against a middling team from the Sun Belt. (As of this afternoon, Bovada's line sits at 37.5 points in favor of Washington.) The last time Idaho visited Husky Stadium, the Vandals became Washington's first win with Steve Sarkisian at the helm, and snapped the Huskies' 15-game losing streak that stretched back nearly 22 months to their Nov. 17, 2007, victory over California.
Oh, how the times have changed.
Tomorrow, instead of squaring off against a just-bottomed-out Husky team, the Vandals will be taking on a Washington squad with a top-eight ranking for the first time since Rick Neuheisel was the team's coach in 2001. Furthermore, the Dawgs are in the midst of a four-game streak of scoring 40 or more points that is second in the nation and the longest in program history.
In other words, there's no reason this game should be competitive after the first 30 minutes, especially after the hot start that Washington had last week against Rutgers in which they scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their first four drives. And after the running game put up a disappointing performance in last week's opener, look for Myles Gaskin to eclipse 150 yards and two scores as offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith works to establish the ground game.
The final score should be more or less irrelevant, but I'll say Washington 52, Idaho 10.
The Huskies will beat Idaho. There is zero question about that. The only relevant question is "how."
Chris Petersen will be gameplanning this game with, I'm sure, the following objectives in mind:
- Get the win;
- Get the entire depth chart game experience;
- Work out the run game; and
- Tune up 3rd down and red zone offensive performance.
I expect that he'll want to accomplish that without getting anybody injured and without putting too much of the playbook on tape. I'll be paying particular attention to how he goes about managing the "tight quarter" situations on third down and in the red zone, given that there didn't seem to be too many good options for those situations against Rutgers (the Lindcat?). Regardless, UW rolls. Idaho 9, Washington 52.
But for real, this is one of those games where, if we were still a Sark team, I would be worried about the players sleeping on Idaho and getting upset and my day being ruined. As it is, I think Petersen and the the Dawgs have done a great job emphasizing staying in the present.
That being said, I don't think it will be the mega blowout it could be. Like, a sorta blowout, but not tOSU versus Bowling Green type blowout. Washington should handle them without too much of a scare and in the process get plenty of 2nd and 3rd string reps in, but there's a reason Idaho is considered a team that could potentially go to a bowl for the first time in a few years (2009?). This mostly depends on if they're playing solid fundamentals and executing the schemes cleanly - then it could be a decent game. In the end I don't think any amount of near-perfect execution could make them legitimately competitive with Washington; the Huskies have shown how much the coaches and players value knowing the schemes like the back of your hand, and that plus their higher talent level will make all the difference. As Chris Ash said after the Rutgers game, the Dawgs play seriously fast. Most satisfying for Husky fans, I think we'll see Gaskin and the running backs turn in a way better performance than against Rutgers.
Final: Washington 48 – 16 Idaho.
It's really hard to imagine anything other than a massive beating in this one. If I were to think of a way where it doesn't happen right away, it would be a turnover by the Huskies early, perhaps a deep shot where there isn't enough protection and Browning is sacked and fumbles, or maybe a tipped tunnel screen pass returned for a TD. I'm never one to be overconfident, but even though Idaho has a superior quarterback to Rutgers, we're still talking about an average QB by Pac-12 standards. Another day where the U-dub defense eats until they are full. UW 51, Idaho 10.
The Huskies haven't lost to Idaho since 1905, so right off the bat I think our chances are pretty good. To try and break that streak, the Vandals will bring a passing attack to Husky Stadium that is expected to light up scoreboards this season. They struggled mightily in the air in week 1, but that game emphatically answered any questions about their stagnant run game from last season - essentially opposite of the Huskies, who had questions in the pass game coming into the year.
Vandals QB Matt Linehan is a strong-armed thrower with a big, experienced OL and skill players around him. I expect the experience in head coach Paul Petrino's system will give them some success moving the ball early, unlike Rutgers who looked lost at times in a new offense. Still, the Husky defense should be able to shut them down, with their strength on offense matching up with the top-notch Washington secondary.
This is not a great Vandals defense, especially against the run, and the Huskies will try to establish the ground game early. Myles Gaskin will find a lot of room to run, ultimately opening up the pass game and blowing the game wide open. Washington 45, Idaho 13.