Steve Sarkisian

Can Steve Sarkisian avoid another 7-6 season?


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.

Dalvin Cook returns to practice for FSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14 as Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With each passing day, it appears Miami won’t be able to avoid one of the most talented and productive running backs in the country.

Thursday, Dalvin Cook returned to practice for the first time this week.  Cook suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, and had spent the previous two days of practice riding a bicycle while the rest of his teammates prepped for the in-state and conference rivalry game against The U this Saturday.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Cook showed “no signs” of the hamstring injury that had some worried about his availability in Week 6.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher, who said Wednesday he doesn’t “ever count Dalvin out” because of his healing ability, will meet with reporters later this evening and could address Cook’s status for the weekend then.  Or, he could play to keep the Hurricanes guessing, even as most assume the All-ACC back will be on the field.

Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th.

Gophers down eight starters for game vs. Boilermakers

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 03: at Ryan Field on October 3, 2015 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Minnesota 27-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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It would be an understatement of significant proportions to say that the Minnesota football team is banged up.

How banged up?  On his radio show Thursday, head coach Jerry Kill, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, revealed his team will be down a whopping eight starters for Saturday’s game against Purdue.

Kill’s revelation comes one day after he confirmed a total of 20 players donned non-contact jerseys in practice earlier in the day.

The coach didn’t specifically identify which starters would be sidelined, with the Pioneer Press writing “[t]he known injuries to starters include safety Damarius Travis (hamstring), cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), tight end Lincoln Plsek (back) and tackle Ben Lauer (knee/hand).”

One injured starter who will play, Kill confirmed, is quarterback Mitch Leidner. While not detailing any specific injury, Kill said Wednesday that Leidner “hasn’t been healthy. He’s been beat up.”

Overall, though, the Gophers’ health, or lack thereof, is bordering on historic.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 32 years in coaching,” Kill said yesterday. “The toughest thing for me right now is all of these kids that work so hard, and when they get hurt, it kills me. … We are running out of people.”

Coming off an 8-5 season last year, the Gophers are struggling. While they stand at 3-2 after five games, the three wins came by a total of nine points over the likes of Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio. Their second loss — the first was by six to TCU in the opener — was a 27-0 shutout at the hands of Northwestern in the Big Ten opener last weekend.