Welcome to Husky Football Eve ... the most wonderfully awful night of the year.
You’ve read all the articles. You’ve completed all of the superstitious rituals. You’ve finished off the last of the summer shandies and light beers in the fridge. You’ve stocked up on all the brats, chips and brews that your football festivities require of you.
The season is almost upon us. Just one ... more ... day.
Over the last 30 days we’ve endeavored to help you pass the time to this day by debating the serious and the sublime as it relates to Husky Football. There has been no stone unturned. We’ve hit on every subject.
Except for one.
It is time for us to address what exactly we expect out of our Huskies in the 2017 season. More specifically, what is the ceiling for the Dawgs as they look at what lies ahead of them.
Let’s look at the options.
Option 1 - A winning season and a chance at a New Year’s Six Bowl
The Huskies are a good team and should have no problems putting together a good season. If you think this this the ceiling for this team, you are acknowledging that the Dawgs have a lot going for them. The QB situation is in great shape, the offensive line looks capable and the returning depth on the defense means that they will keep scoreboards in range and leads safe.
However, there is also an implicit admission here that the pockets of youth and inexperience spread throughout the roster - particularly at receiver, on special teams and in the secondary - make UW somewhat vulnerable to upset. A loss or two during the regular season likely disrupts UW’s chances for a second straight PAC 12 championship as a result.
Option 2 - A PAC 12 Championship and a trip to the College Football Playoffs
In this scenario, you are arguing that UW should be expected to reach the exact same level of achievement that they reached in 2016. The roster, the schedule and the coaching are all in place to deliver UW a zero or one loss regular season record and a trip to the PAC 12 championship. Once they get there, their depth and their experience having “been there” will carry them to their second straight championship.
But we all know that “iron sharpens iron.” The relative lack of challenge in the overall schedule compared to some other programs means that UW goes into the playoffs with less of an edge. They are still susceptible to getting surprised by teams of equal or greater talent and probably shouldn’t be expected to win a playoff contest against a team like Ohio State, Alabama or Clemson.
Option 3 - The Next Step ... a trip to the National Championship
This is the year.
Superstitions be damned. You know it and you want to say it out loud.
The Huskies are the team to beat this year. You already know that they are going to cruise through their schedule en route to an undefeated regular season and a PAC 12 championship. But you expect that their ceiling is higher than that.
Why? Because their QB is a legit Heisman contender and, as we all know, QBs tend to make their biggest jumps between the sophomore and junior seasons. The offensive line is stocked with experience and NFL talent. The defense is loaded, even in the secondary. The special teams might be the best we’ve ever had.
And we’ve got Chris Petersen. He and his staff have exposed his team to what competition at the highest levels looks like thanks to the Peach Bowl against Alabama. They are uniquely qualified to capture that experience and turn it into the ultimate teachable moment. Give them a second chance, and they’ll deliver UW a shot at the national championship.
What is UW’s ceiling this season?
This poll is closed
A winning season and a New Year’s six bowl
A PAC 12 championship and Playoffs
A trip to the National Championship game