After their season-opening loss to Auburn, the Huskies say they're not overlooking North Dakota with start of Pac-12 play looming next week.
The past two offseasons, the Huskies had months and months to stew on bowl-game losses to Alabama and Penn State.
Following its latest setback in a top-10 matchup — a 21-16 defeat against Auburn in Atlanta — No. 9 Washington had little time to wallow in the loss. The Huskies have another game to play, and another next week and another 10 more (at least) after that.
“Winning,” senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven said, “heals everything.”
It starts with the home opener Saturday against North Dakota. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
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Unlike the Huskies’ showdown with Auburn — the premier game of the week in college football’s opening weekend, televised nationwide — there is little fanfare about this matchup against the Fighting Hawks of Grand Forks.
That doesn’t matter to the Huskies. Nor does it matter, they say, that North Dakota (1-0) is a lower-division FCS program.
“We’re an 0-1 football team right now. We haven’t done anything,” Burr-Kirven said. “I don’t think we’ve done anything to put us in a position to overlook anybody, whether it’s North Dakota or anyone. If you do that, you’re disrespecting the team you’re going to play and you’re doing a disservice to yourself. We haven’t done anything.
“Despite playing well against Auburn, we still lost that football game. At the end of the day, we’ve got to get our first win and that should be motivation enough for anybody to play.”
Coaches and players lauded the team’s intensity in practice this week. This, they say, is an angry team that knew it blew a prime opportunity on a national stage in Atlanta.
“I don’t think anybody’s happy with what happened at all,” coach Chris Petersen said Thursday. “We should always have a chip on our shoulder. We should always be irritated. I hope that when we win we’re irritated because we look back at the mistakes we made and we’re irritated about that. That’s what the great teams, the great people, do.”
It starts Saturday against North Dakota. The Huskies then head into conference play next week with a pivotal game in Salt Lake City against a Utah team that many see as the favorites in the Pac-12 South.
“It’s always looking forward,” UW defensive back Austin Joyner said. “We try not to look at the past. You learn from it and moving forward we’re going to take all the negatives from that game and make sure we make this the best season from here on out.”