clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mailbag: Reverse Stampeding Edition

Answering questions on UW’s postseason future, the Apple Cup, and more!

Colorado v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

How much of any perceived difference in success between UW and WSU this year so far is due to the scheduling gods? If WSU had gotten to play Colorado instead of USC or Utah and Washington had gotten to play USC or Utah instead of Colorado, then maybe this game would have a whole different feel. -Gou Wei

It’s a fair question. Most of the advanced stats definitely have the Huskies as the better team. UW is generally in the 17-22 range and WSU is in the 35-40 range. From a record standpoint though there’s a chance they’d look similar if you reversed each team’s schedule.

Michigan State and Wisconsin have both underachieved but WSU had to go on the road while UW played MSU at home. In conference play UW missed USC and Utah while WSU missed Colorado and UCLA. I think given how the Huskies have played this year that they probably would’ve had a solid shot to still split the USC/Utah combo especially if one of those games came at home. It definitely would not have been a guarantee though. The Cougars are capable of winning at UCLA but they probably lose that and then beat Colorado.

Given that the Arizona State loss is increasingly mind boggling as we look back I think that 9 wins is probably still right for the Huskies to be at this point of the season. Washington State could easily be 8-3 right now. It’s unlucky they didn’t get to play Colorado. But it’s not as if they had to play all 3 of the Utah/UCLA/USC grouping in the South. The Cougars are 0-4 in games versus teams higher ranked than them in SP+ so far and 7-0 against worse teams. Obviously they were very close to upsetting Oregon but in the end it has turned out to be a fairly chalk season for them. Hopefully that continues one more week.

The Pac-12 Title chances are so slim.. So if UW beats WSU. USC wins out beating the Ducks badly in the Title game is UW still on the outside looking in for a NY6 game or do they slip into on? -bowlingForNY6

If the Dawgs win out, and USC is picked up for the CFP, will the UW end up in the Rose Bowl? -M105589

We’ll have to see where the Huskies are in the updated College Football Playoff ranking tonight. Last week UW lagged a couple spots behind their AP Poll spot. For the sake of some hypothesizing though let’s say they end up in the same spot as the AP Poll this week which has them 12th.

Although there are 12 spots total in the New Year’s 6/CFP bowls, only the top-11 have a shot to get in since the highest ranked group of 5 finisher gets a spot in the Cotton Bowl and there’s no team close to a Cincinnati from last year in the AAC this year. If TCU makes the CFP it could be the top-10 since the Sugar Bowl would take a lower ranked Kansas State as the next available Big 12 team.

Obviously in this scenario we’re assuming Washington wins on Saturday to finish 10-2. Directly ahead of UW at #11 right now is Penn State who lost by double digits to the two top-5 teams they’ve played and have 0 wins over ranked teams. Washington’s resume says that UW should leapfrog them but the Lions are getting the benefit of the doubt. #10 is Oregon who UW has already beaten. If Oregon loses to OSU but backs into the title game due to a convoluted 3-team tiebreaker and then also loses to USC, I think 10-2 UW would finish ahead of 9-4 Oregon. If it’s a 10-3 Oregon team that narrowly loses to USC, I think the ASU loss would overcome the head-to-head result even if it shouldn’t. A USC blowout in the Pac-12 title game taking them to 12-1 is a necessity for any Husky Rose Bowl berth scenario.

#9 is Tennessee who is now without their former Heisman contender Hendon Hooker after he tore his ACL last weekend. Fortunately for them they play Vanderbilt to close out the year so still should win that and I don’t think a 10-2 UW team passes 10-2 Tennessee unless the rankings take into account Hooker’s unavailability. South Carolina just beat Tennessee and now play Clemson. If the Cocks upset Clemson and then the Tigers also lose to UNC in the ACC title game then UW could potentially pass them as well. Although the ACC champion is getting in no matter what so that doesn’t matter too much. The same goes for is LSU were they to lose both at Texas A&M (unlikely) and vs. Georgia in the SEC title game (very likely).

Looking at all of those factors I think a 10-2 UW would end up either 10th or 11th which would put the Huskies right on the cut line. If things broke their way it’s possible to have a berth in the Rose or Cotton bowls. Of course the Huskies could finish 10-2, have USC lose to Notre Dame next week, and then both get leapfrogged by Notre Dame and have USC miss out on their CFP spot which doubly screws over Washington for bowl placement.

What are the odds that we have Penix again next year? -Rhaego

Okay, so slightly higher than that but not by much. We’re starting to see mock drafts that are finally putting Penix into day one or two contention. As long as I don’t jinx it just now it looks like he will finally show he can make it through an entire season healthy (although that’s in part due to finally having a stellar offensive line which is no guarantee in the NFL).

I really don’t know what he has left to prove. I can’t imagine him putting up much in the way of better stats. He only ranks 59th or 91 qualified quarterbacks in Big Time Throw rate per PFF because a lot of his completed deep shots have been to wide open receivers. But as we saw against Oregon he certainly is capable of making any throw and fitting it into a tight window with his arm talent. On the flip side he’s 4th in Turnover Worthy Play rate so he has been great at taking care of the ball. His 6 interceptions are identical to his charted turnover worthy plays so he hasn’t been getting lucky with dropped picks.

If I were Penix I would be planning to head to the NFL. I’m not though so maybe he surprises us. But I can’t fathom the risk of getting hurt again next year outweigh any possible benefits of raising his draft stock even higher. Unless Miami’s mega booster switches allegiance to UW and gives Penix several million in NIL money.

If the Cougs win it will be because of ______________________ ? -LiveInHoth

Washington’s inability to get stops because of Cam Ward’s scrambling ability. Washington State is 0-4 this season when their opponent has scored at least 21 points. They came very close against Oregon but haven’t proven that they can win a shootout. It would take a very surprising turn of events for the Huskies not to score at least 3 touchdowns even acknowledging that the Cougar defense is legit. That means Wazzu is going to have to put up points and given Ward’s profile and how UW has looked in recent weeks that may be easiest by sticking on the ground.

I noted Penix’s performance in Big Throw rate but it was particularly interesting to see Cam Ward. He ranks 90th of 91 qualifiers in FBS in that particular stat at just 2.1% and averages an anemic 6.6 yards per attempt. During WSU’s 3-game winning streak Ward hasn’t even eclipsed 5.8 YPA in a game. There will undoubtedly be at least one big coverage breakdown from the Husky secondary but Ward’s biggest advantage appears to be when he tucks the football and gets upfield.

Ward ran for a season-high 57 yards against Arizona last week as the Cougars have morphed into a ball control, running and defense type of team. Wazzu will certainly have success in their traditional rushing game but the only way they outscore the Huskies is if Ward gives them 3+ first downs on chunk plays with his legs (or, as is true in basically every game, if UW gets absolutely terrible turnover luck).

Oregon State v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

I’m sure Washington will look to the transfer portal for a QB, DB, and LB help in 2023. Will the defensive line be in decent shape or will that need portal help as well? -Fountaindale

That’s going to depend in large part on the decisions made by several of the current DL players but regardless, it wouldn’t surprise me if Washington went after someone they view as starting caliber. Tuli Letuligasenoa has been by far the Huskies’ best interior defender this season and has also been banged up at times limiting his minutes. Faatui Tuitele has been the other starter and it’s difficult to say that he has secured a starting spot for next year. With one game to go this year plus a bowl game he has never had better than a 53.8 PFF grade. That’s well below average.

Unfortunately, that’s a trend for UW’s defensive linemen. Ulumoo Ale- 57.8, Jacob Bandes 57.6, Voi Tunuufi- 54.6, Tuitele- 51.1. Everyone with more than 60 snaps besides Tuli have been consistently mediocre if not worse despite occasional flashes. If Tuli opts not to use his final year of eligibility then Washington is perilously thin of impact players inside. Kuao Peihopa had some hype in the preseason but also struggled when on the field and then was suspended indefinitely and has not played since week 4.

Should everyone come back I think there’s enough hope for internal improvement that getting someone out of the portal isn’t mandatory to have a successful season. But if there were the chance to add someone like Nesta Jade Silvera with clear P5 starting experience who went from Miami to Arizona State this past offseason then Washington should be aggressive to add them to the fold (he’s got a good shot at 2nd team all-conference when that’s announced in a few weeks).