Complete effort underscores win

Obviously Steve Sarkisian wasn't the first coach to ever say it, but he was right on the money nonetheless; football is a game of inches. He could have added that football is also a game of split decisions, and there were too many of those too Saturday night, as Washington upset No. 24 Oregon State 35-34 in double overtime at Husky Stadium.

"If your heart wasn't racing tonight, something is wrong with you," UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian said. "Go to the doctor, I guess."

If Sarkisian's blood pressure didn't go through the roof at USC, I'm sure he'll be asking his personal physician for a Lisinopril prescription come Monday. The second half flowed like a tennis match, with both teams going back and forth, the anticipation and stakes building with every change in possession.

Hearts were racing, helmets were popping, records were being broken - and like Sarkisian said last Monday - it came down to those dreaded inches - and maybe a few decibels too. As the football tantalizingly slipped out of the hands of OSU H-back Joe Halahuni - a native of Orting, Wash. - during the Beavers' failed attempt at a two-point conversion that would have won them the game, Washington fans breathed a collective sigh of relief and checked to see if their own hearts were still going. They were. I'm sure the sight of the Huskies running wild on the Husky Stadium turf provided a pleasant shock to the system.

"I just thought that we had the right play, we're on the road, and I though that they were pretty hot," OSU Head Coach Mike Riley said after the game when asked about his decision to go for two during the second overtime. "I thought we were having a hard time with them, and so we thought we could win the game right there. That's what really told the story."

No offense to Riley, but it didn't tell the whole story. The play didn't catch Washington off-guard. Sarkisian even mentioned having seen Riley go for it the exact same way years ago.

"I had a feeling they would do it, regardless," Sarkisian said. "I just wanted to make sure we had the best call on defense."

It's interesting that the game came down to one giant defensive stop by the Huskies - a stop they had frankly become accustomed to during the second half. After giving up seven points right out of the locker room, Washington's defense stiffened up and gave up a total of 60 yards the rest of the game - 47 of those on a third-quarter drive that ended up with OSU quarterback Ryan Katz throwing an interception to Washington's Sean Parker for a touchback.

When the Huskies were stalling on offense and needed their defense to pick them up, the defense delivered. They allowed Oregon State one first down in the fourth quarter. It was the ultimate team effort. In golf parlance, the Huskies 'ham and egged it', with the offense providing the early fireworks and the defense the stout response when it looked like the Beavers were going to snatch the game at the death. Each group picked up the other when they needed it most. For example, after Washington held OSU to basically nothing in the fourth quarter, their offense came alive in both overtime periods. It has become a familiar refrain, but hearing Jake Locker to Jermaine Kearse for six never gets old.

You knew that Kearse, the junior from Lakes who was battling through a rough spell of drops, would come back in a big way. He did it against Syracuse after struggling in the first game of the season, and he broke records Saturday night. And UW needed a performance like that, because the Pac-10 is inhabited by wolves that aren't too bothered when it comes to eating their own. There's only one undefeated team left, and that might change as early as next week.

"We're coming to the realization as a football program - winning is really hard," Sarkisian said. "But at the end of it all, the reward is tremendous. And I can't say it enough. At some point it's going to get redundant…we've got a football team that is still learning its way, but they made me very proud tonight, that's for sure."

"We kept fighting the whole game and never quit," added senior safety Nate Williams. "That is what the coaches want us to do and worked out for us. That's what really did it for us."

After Saturday night, Sarkisian and his Huskies should come to another realization; it's going to take complete efforts like the one displayed against Oregon State if they want to go bowling in the post-season. It's the only way. Half-meaures are unacceptable, and the biggest reason why they are unacceptable is because you end up losing games because of them.

If you don't come with your A-plus game, fire breathing out of your nostrils and 100 percent pure hatred in your heart, you simply won't survive in the Pac-10. And UW brought just a little bit of everything to the table against OSU: They outgained the Beavers 475-353; they had more first downs (26 to 22), more interceptions (3 to 1), more sacks (3 to 2), more tackles for loss (8 to 7) and more possession (30:17 to 29:43). They were better in the red zone, and what mattered most - better in overtime. They had to go the full 60 minutes, and then some, to dispatch OSU.

But outside of Oregon up top and Washington State in the cellar, the other eight teams are downright cannibalistic; Washington beat Oregon State, who beat Arizona, who beat Cal, who beat UCLA, and on and on and on. The Huskies next travel to Tucson, a place where the Beavers won on the road. Washington could win on the road too if they are able to ham-and-egg their way around Arizona Stadium; if they can't they could find themselves on the back end of another disappointing scoreline.

And that's life in the Pac-10 nowadays - where dreams can be made or broken in the span of a few inches. Top Stories