Huskies Need to Win This Toss-Up

Forget about the records of the two teams. Forget about the Huskies' debacle in Palo Alto. Forget about Arizona's firing of Mike Stoops, and forget about looking ahead. Saturday night's game with the Arizona Wildcats is liable to be wild - period. Both teams are capable of putting up large numbers on offense and both are a little too generous on defense.

These two teams are meeting right at a time when both are coming off incredibly draining weeks for each program. Arizona, under their new coach Tim Kish (who is really an old coach because he was on Stoops' staff), are coming off their biggest win of the season following their thrashing of UCLA, while Washington is fresh off their second drubbing of the year at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.

It's hard to tell which game was worse, because even though Arizona won they experienced a downright classless shoving, pushing, and punching match with Rick Neuheisel's ridiculously undisciplined Bruin team, who, when they were getting their asses handed to them decided they'd turn a football game into a hockey match. I slowed down the bench-clearing brawl and watched it in slow motion and it was embarrassing to both teams and the conference. It was the worst example I've ever seen of lack of control and unsportsmanlike conduct in the Pac-8/10/12 conference for 50 years. It was a stupid and terrible way for the new conference to be viewed on national television.

No wonder the rest of the country thinks so little of West Coast Football: Nobody even landed a good punch. It was like watching a grade school playground shoving match. Whatever, Arizona dominated the game and will be coming into Husky Stadium filled with a renewed confidence that will make this a very good game.

After watching practice on Wednesday it appears that the Huskies will be ready as well, as they have put the Stanford game behind them now and are moving towards their goal of another bowl game.

A couple of the worst losses of my own coaching career happened at the hands of Arizona. The first was when our 23-game winning streak was broken in a loss to Arizona in 1992 when we were the number one-ranked team in the country. The Billy Joe Hobert scandal had just broken and we were in the middle of damage control. Needless to say, we were distracted.

Following a blowout loss to Nebraska, similar to the one just experienced this last weekend to Stanford, we returned to the comforts of Husky Stadium in 1998 only to lose the game known as the "Leap by the Lake" when Arizona quarterback Ortege Jenkins summersaulted over three UW defenders into the end zone for the winning play (of the three defenders, of course two of them had to be my linebackers who were trying to tackle him).

What made it even worse was a penalty flag thrown on an earlier play where Marques Tuiasosopo had scored on a long run which would have sealed the victory for us. The referee, who was from Tucson, threw the flag from the opposite side of the field and was later fired after he threw a similar phantom flag against Washington State which also gave Arizona another victory.

Oh well, they never change the scores. So let's just hope history doesn't repeat itself here because our kids back in '98 had responded beautifully after getting flattened by the Cornhuskers 55-7 the week before. As it was we lost 31-28 and it probably was the nail in the coffin for our staff, as we ended up getting fired after losing a bowl game to the best Air Force team in the history of the Academy. Go figure.

That was then, and this is now, so it probably has little relevance - but last year Arizona throttled the Dawgs 44-14 the week after Washington had won a thrilling double overtime victory over the Beavers. It was also right before the Huskies played Stanford and Oregon, who both kicked the Huskies in the face as well.

So here we are getting ready to play a team that is more than ready to repeat history. They just experienced winning while Washington just endured a devastating defeat. That makes this a must-win for the program and it promises to be a shootout of the highest proportions, simply because both defenses are porous.

Arizona comes in with a tremendous quarterback in Nick Foles and he is a shotgun catch-and-throw guy so it will be hard to sack him. He has tall receivers and Washington's secondary has struggled for much of the year. This game could easily be in the 40's, with hopefully Washington winning by a score of somewhere around 44-38. The Huskies will want to win the kicking game and the turnover battle, two areas they lost last weekend. Stop the run and make them a one dimensional team will be important but simply doing whatever it takes to win will be a must. Top Stories