We are officially 22 days from the season opener against Auburn. Today we’ll be figuring out the best Husky road trip. This is from a fan perspective. The quality of the game matters but it isn’t the only determining factor.
Option #1: Washington vs. Auburn, September 1st. Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
Technically this game is at a neutral site. If they were playing in Lincoln, Nebraska I might call it equidistant and therefore disqualify it as a road trip. But given that Atlanta is 2,635 miles from Seattle and 109 miles from Auburn, I’m going to call it a road trip. This game has a number of things going for it. It’s going to be a Top-10 matchup. It’s the premier non-conference game for the Pac-12. And it’s the first time that Washington has played a regular season game in the Southeast since 2012 when the Huskies lost 41-3 at LSU (Washington obviously played Alabama in Atlanta in the CFB playoffs in 2016).
The opportunities for Husky fans to venture to SEC territory and experience the insanity firsthand is rare. The one negative is that since it’s a neutral site game, it might not be quite as raucous a crowd as you would get at a true road game. That gives the Huskies a better chance to win but makes the fan experience worse. The temperature is likely to be humid and in the mid-80s but since the teams are playing in a dome, that won’t matter.
Option #2: Washington at Utah, September 15th. Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
If the Huskies manage to survive their contest against Auburn, all eyes will turn to Utah. The Utes figure to have a good team this season and they always play Washington tough regardless of location, which should make for an exciting game. Regardless of the outcome of the Auburn game, a win at Utah would mean the Huskies are ready to be the leading contender for the Pac-12 title. Rice-Eccles is one of the better stadiums in the conference and a night game in mid-September means it will likely be around 70 degrees at kickoff so not too cold or too warm. There’s not a thriving party scene in Salt Lake but it’s still early enough in the year that you could do something outdoorsy in the day and be back for tailgate time.
Option #3: Washington at Oregon, October 13th. Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon.
Let’s be real for a moment. There are a number of reasons why this isn’t a great road trip. There’s not much to do in Eugene. I mean, it’s a fine college town but you wouldn’t be excited to spend time there even if Washington and Oregon had no history between them. But they do, which means you’re likely to get sour looks from wearing your Purple and Gold before the game. Once you get to the game those looks are only going to get worse and you’ll have to endure a great deal of smack talk. And mid-October in Eugene means expect it to be 55 and raining.
But if the Huskies win...there is no better place to be for a Husky road victory than at Autzen. It is one of the great regrets of my (sports fan) life that I had to work and couldn’t join some friends to see Washington beat the streak by putting up 70 on the Ducks in person. Missing out on watching the stands empty at halftime and getting to wave goodbye as they filed out in disgust was a killer. Duck fans are re-energized behind the early recruiting success under Mario Cristobal and are dreaming of a Justin Herbert Heisman season and a darkhorse Pac-12 North title. The opportunity to watch all those dreams ripped away in person is mighty appealing. The downside, of course, is that the Huskies will be on back-to-back road trips while Oregon comes off a bye. And if UW loses, then it will be an absolutely miserable drive back up I-5.
Which is the best Husky road trip for 2018?
This poll is closed
Auburn in Atlanta
Utah in Salt Lake City
Oregon in Eugene
Verdict: Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia
Yes, the Huskies played in Atlanta two years ago against another team from Alabama. But the situation is vastly different this time around. While Husky fans may have thought they had a puncher’s chance against Bama, this game appears to be just about a coin flip. Between the Peach Bowl and the Brandon Kaho incident, UW and Auburn fans will be able to bond over their shared dislike of Alabama. That means that going about the town that weekend before the game will be a mostly friendly attitude rather than one of animosity. Everyone is going to be anxious and pumped and just excited to have college football back. Atlanta’s a big enough city that the entire town won’t be buzzing like it would be for an on-campus matchup, but at the moment this is definitely the game for which I most regret not having tickets.