I've been a Seattle sports fan from the minute I was born, so I know what disappointment feels like. The Seattle Mariners haven't been to the playoffs since 2001, I was probably still eating boogers at the time. Before the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks were a team that other teams would scoff at. The Sonics left in 2008. Finally, although they've been dominant over the last many years, the Huskies finished 0-12 in 2008, something Wazzu (surprisingly) has yet to do.
As for those UW Huskies, simply put: They blew it! Before the season started, talking heads ranging from Fox Sports to the mothership at ESPN predicted the Huskies to be one of the top four teams at the end of the season to reach the College Football Playoff. If you also recall, a certain Odyssey content creator picked the Huskies to not only lose one game, but he too predicted the Dawgs to return to the CFP. Yep...I was wrong.
The Huskies had all the potential in the world to be one of the absolute best teams this season. Seniors like QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, DT Greg Gaines, LB Ben Burr-Kirven, CB Jordan Miller and DB JoJo McIntosh all returned for their final year of eligibility to prove why they're the (no pun intended) top dogs of the Pac-12, but they swallowed the olive. Everybody knew that even if UW lost to Auburn at the start of the year they would still be contenders for the CFP. When they did in fact lose that game, disappointment set in my heart, but hope wasn't lost. Hope was officially lost after the Oregon loss, and the cherry on top of the recent loss to the CAL Golden Bears. Last year, UW lost to ASU which officially killed their season, and this loss felt exactly like that one.
I'm not a beat writer for UW, nor do I have any close connection to the football team itself. I'm just a former UW student who got to sit in the Dawg Pack for a couple of years and am now a UW alumnus with season tickets to boot. This situation is worsened because I don't get paid to follow the team, my girlfriend bought me season tickets to support my Dawgs and I was hoping to see a dream season like I got to witness in 2016. When you love your team as much as I do, broken dreams and faulted expectations keep me up at night, and if you're a reader of my articles then you know I am not going to accept any, "It's just a game" comments.
So what exactly went wrong this season? I love Jake Browning, but we haven't seen the same production from him since he lost John Ross to the NFL after the 2016 season. Coach Petersen was so fed up with Browning that he benched him and put in backup QB Jake Haener later in the second half, only to have Haener throw a crucial pick-six that gave CAL all the momentum. Injuries could play a part in this for sure as star LT Trey Adams was lost for the season, as was stud TE Hunter Bryant, and Myles Gaskin missed the last two games with an apparent shoulder injury. Chico McClatcher recently left the team for "personal reasons" and he never got a chance to flash his talents this season, which is really frustrating because McClatcher is a fast stud who is a massive weapon when used right. Did the Huskies come into the season fat and sassy? We've seen it from teams before, they think they're bigger than their britches and talk a lot of smack, and teams like the 2018 Washington Huskies get slapped in the face by teams like Oregon and CAL, which result in a letdown of a season.
So what next?
The CFP conversation is done and over with, especially now that UW find themselves out of the top 25, but all is not completely lost. It sounds crazy but the Huskies can still win the Pac-12 Championship, but they must win their remaining three games. Oregon got destroyed against Arizona, Stanford lost to Wazzu, which puts UW in a good position if they can take care of business. If UW beats both Stanford and WSU, they'll own the tiebreakers against them and they'll surprisingly be in the Pac-12 Championship game. Take care of business the rest of the way UW! Although the national media will downplay your year, winning the Pac-12 will be a huge victory for a year that was lost after the Oregon disaster.