Washington under Steve Sarkisian has been nothing if not consistent during the three season preceding 2013.
After going 5-7 in 2009 in his first year as head coach in Seattle, Sarkisian’s Huskies finished 7-6 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
But 2013 seems different. Or at least it seemed different.
It wasn’t just Washington’s 4-0 start that pointed to the likelihood of a Huskies breakout out from its 7-6 gulag. It was also the way UW looked in beating Boise State and Illinois. The Huskies played fast and furious on both sides of the ball and appeared to be ready to return to the national scene.
Even consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon the past two weeks provided evidence that Washington was on the rebound. The Huskies competed hard and took both elite teams into the fourth quarter before folding.
But Washington may have picked a bad year to get good again. That’s because the Pac-12 might be as good as it’s ever been.
Now, suddenly, a Huskies team that was flying high a couple weeks ago finds itself in a must-win situation this Saturday. Washington travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State, which has more-than-enough firepower to hand the Huskies their third-straight loss.
If Washington loses in Tempe, it would likely rebound to beat California and Colorado the next two weeks, which means it would sit at 6-3 heading into its final three games.
Those three games include road trips to UCLA and Oregon State — both likely to be ranked — and a home game against in-state rival WSU, which beat the Huskies last season.
In other words, a loss to ASU would set up Washington for a possible 7-5 regular season.
Seven wins. Again.
It therefore stands to reason that this Saturday’s game against ASU is the most important game of the Sarkisian era at Washington. A loss to the Sun Devils might get the momentum rolling for Sarkisian to lose his job come December.
A win, or course, would confirm our earlier impression — that UW is a legit team and ready to take the next step to becoming a contender in the Pac-12 North.
It just goes to show you how close the line can be between success and failure in college football. Hopefully, those Pac-12 refs behave this time.