Assuming the 5½-point favorite Huskies take care of the Cardinal, their fans should cheer like hell for the Cougs.
How do you look in Crimson? Mind adding a little gray?
If you’re a Huskies fan, these could temporarily become your favorite colors.
Obviously, the immediate concern for Washington football diehards is beating Stanford on Friday night. A win would propel UW to 9-1 overall, 6-1 in conference and inch it closer to another Pac-12 North title.
But assuming the 5½-point-favorite Huskies take care of the Cardinal, their fans should cheer like hell for the Cougs.
I know, everyone is wincing right now. Hatfields don’t pull for McCoys, McDonald’s doesn’t retweet Whopper ads and Steve Jobs didn’t buy Microsoft shares.
It’s generally inconceivable for one side in a rivalry this historic to root for the other, but in this case, it is necessary. If Washington wants any chance of returning to the College Football Playoff — odds that are already hipster-jeans thin — it has to beat a ranked Washington State team. Sorry, there’s just no way around it.
When the Huskies fell to Arizona State 13-7 in Tempe three weeks ago, I felt it condemned their chances of reaching the CFP regardless of whether they win out. Though no fault of coach Chris Petersen, their nonconference schedule seemed too soft for the committee to reward two years in a row.
I still think that’s the case — especially given UW’s 17-point loss to national runner-up Alabama in the semifinals last year. But when Penn State and Ohio State each lost last week, a glimmer of hope emerged.
There are still eight teams ahead of the Huskies in the CFP poll, including every one-loss team in a Power 5 conference (plus 8-1 Notre Dame). So barring 10-on-the-richter-scale chaos, the only way for the Huskies to impress the committee is to throttle highly ranked opponents in their final two games.
They won’t get that chance against Stanford, which fell to the Cougs (8-2, 5-2) last week. They won’t get that chance against Utah, which already has four losses. But if Wazzu knocks off the Utes on Saturday, it will likely jump into the top 15 heading into its bye week. And if USC wins out, it could be in or around the top 10 come the Pac-12 championship game.
And if Washington is able to beat the Cardinal, Utes, Cougs and the Trojans? Well, I guess you truly never know.
Regardless of when this story got published online, I’m sure Petersen has already banned his players from reading it. Thinking that far ahead is practically grounds for dismissal for anyone in his program.
I threw a Hail Mary on Monday and asked Petersen if Penn State and Ohio State losing was of any interest to him. As expected, that pass was picked off.
“Is that your way of asking about rankings?” he responded, drawing laughter from most of the media. “I don’t know how to say this to you again. I totally (watch scores from around the country), but nothing is, ‘Oh, good, so and so lost.’ I can’t say that to you honestly enough.”
OK, Petersen might not be watching with that sort of interest, but you are. Anyone who’s ever worn a “Bow Down” shirt or partaken in the “Go! … Huskies!” chant cares deeply about where their team stacks up in the playoff picture. Even the traditionalists who would normally prefer the Rose Bowl feel that way given that the Granddaddy of them All hosts a College Football Playoff game this season.
Somehow getting back to the playoffs would present a fantastic opportunity for the Huskies, whose defense appears improved from last year. But to do that, their fans are going to have to utter two words that are already making them gag.