Portland State's Bruce Barnum: "Everyone’s talking about Browning and the ‘Folsom Flash’ and all that hoopla, and No. 1 (John Ross III) is probably faster than Usain Bolt, but their defense right now is light’s out."
Just how good are these Washington Huskies?
Portland State coach Bruce Barnum, who leads his Vikings into Husky Stadium for a 5 p.m. kickoff Saturday, is on the record this week saying the No. 8 Huskies could win the national championship. He took that a step further Wednesday morning.
“I wouldn’t be shocked at all,” Barnum said. “I don’t know what the odds are in Vegas because I can’t gamble because I’m a head coach in college football, but if I was in front of a tote board right now … I’d mortgage my house and put it on the Huskies.”
Barnum was named the FCS national coach of the year last season in leading Portland State to its first playoff appearance since 2000. The Vikings, ranked No. 17 in the FCS poll this week, shocked Washington State, 24-17, in Pullman to open the 2015 season.
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These Huskies, he said, are better than WSU last year.
“Everyone’s talking about Browning and the ‘Folsom Flash’ and all that hoopla, and No. 1 (John Ross III) is probably faster than Usain Bolt, but their defense right now is light’s out,” he said. “Pete Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake and Ikaika (Malloe), they have those guys playing like you’re supposed to play the game. … They’re intimidating, they’re fast; they play the game how it’s supposed to be played. So it’s a huge challenge for us. We’re going to go up there and try to run the football and keep them off the field and punt and hopefully they fumble and we win.”
Barnum, a linebacker at Eastern Washington in the 1980s, was the offensive coordinator at Portland State in 2010 when the Vikings lost 69-0 at Oregon. The Ducks went on to play in their first national-championship game that year, and Barnum used that as a reference point when discussing this weeks’ matchup.
“They (the Huskies) are one of the best we’ve played in awhile, possibly ever,” he said.
Portland State lost 66-35 on the road against another FBS program, San Jose State, last Saturday. Even so, Barnum said his team approaches these “money games” expecting to compete.
“We won’t be intimated,” he said. “We’ll show up Friday (in Seattle) and show them the stadium so all the ‘wow’ gets out of their eyes. … We go into these games expecting to win. And we did last year, twice. But odds are against you in these ‘money games.’ But we had the attitude of not losing that game before we get there. We’ll show up, we will fight — I guarantee you that. There won’t be any quit in us. We’re a little overmatched, obviously.”
Portland State will receive a $525,000 payout from UW for Saturday’s game.