So you’ve been told that Husky football is actually good this year and want in on the action? Great timing! The 5th-ranked Huskies are 6-0 (3-0 in the Pac-12). The last time that the University of Washington football team was undefeated this far into the season was 1992, just one year after winning its only national championship (and four years before I was even born). After an average 7-6 season in 2015, the Huskies entered the season with incredibly high expectations after returning the conference’s top-ranked defense and many young offensive players. Since, they've demonstrated that they are legitimate national title contenders by dominating games on both sides of the ball.
To prepare for any upcoming conversations about Husky football, here are five reasons why the UW can complete its season undefeated and earn a spot in the college football playoff:
The Streak is Over
In case you missed it, the Huskies finally beat the University of Oregon. It was UW first victory over the Ducks in 13 years. Even better, they thumped them by a resounding score of 70-21 in Eugene (the most points in Border War history). With a—dare I say—duck like that off the team's back, what was once a large distraction on the schedule is now a momentous resume-builder in the rearview window.
They Still Have Pac-12’s Best D
UW boasted the Pac-12's top-ranked total defense in 2015, and year's defensive group is proving to be one of the most complete in the country. They're one of seven teams to allow less than 15 points per game and lead the nation with a +13 turnover margin (junior linebacker Keishawn Bierria leads the country with five fumble recoveries). After holding opponents to 14 points or less in four of the first six games, opposing teams are lucky to even find the end zone against UW.
The Young Quarterback Isn’t So Young Anymore
Sure, he's still only a 20-year-old sophomore, but Jake Browning's (sometimes rough) freshman season gave him a wealth of experience which has helped him become one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football. So far, he's leading the country in passing touchdowns with 23 (against only two interceptions!) while completing 72-percent of his passes (third best nationally), and he’s even going to be stronger after accepting Coach Petersen’s 500-push-up punishment for (gloriously) taunting an Oregon player.
Head Coach Chris Petersen Has a Plan
It's tough to gauge a football team's success based on the gray-haired guy that stands on the sidelines. With Petersen, however, the signs are hard to overlook. In just his third season at the helm (after turning Boise State into a Fiesta Bowl-winning national underdog darling), the team is having its best season in 24 years on the field and the wins are rubbing off elsewhere, too. The Huskies posted a team-record 3.13 GPA last season with 80 players finishing with averages above 3.0. Professor Petersen, anybody.
They’ve Already Played Their Toughest Games
While the Huskies need to crack the top four in the rankings to claim a playoff birth, there’s a clear path ahead. Top-ranked Alabama still has to play #6 Texas A&M. Second-ranked Ohio State must square off with rival #3 Michigan. Meanwhile, after already earning wins at home against Stanford and on trips to Arizona and Oregon, UW's schedule appears to be relatively easy for the remainder of the regular season. They’ll be favored big in home games against unranked foes Oregon State, USC, and Arizona State. The Huskies should dominate California in their trip to Berkeley. And while road games in the tough environments of Salt Lake City (against #19 Utah) and in Pullman (for the Apple Cup) will provide some final tests of adversity for the team, UW holds a combined record of 78-33-6 against the two schools.