The anticipation. The restlessness. The hype. The doubt. And everything else that comes with a program that’s on top, rather on it’s way back there, met its first match mid-day Saturday.
Chris Petersen’s posse donned ‘prove it’ shirts on their bodies and a 'prove it' ethos in their minds throughout the months leading up to the opener, constantly being reminded by the coaching staff that they have yet to accomplish anything.
Consequently, the Dawgs came out firing on all cylinders, hanging 34 points in just 30 minutes of football on a hapless Rutgers team, while allowing only three.
Some of the biggest question marks were answered with exclamation points.
Curious about how the unproven receiving corps can produce this season? How does six touchdowns for the group, including three deep balls, a kick return, and a punt return sound?
What about replacing the pass rushing presence of Travis Feeney and Cory Littleton? Two sacks and countless more hurries from the likes of Vita Vea, Elijah Qualls, and Greg Gaines proved that the burden could be shouldered in a different way.
There are, without a doubt, plenty that Washington needs to tighten up, but ask any fan, reporter, player, or coach a week ago if they’d take a 35-point win over a Big Ten team to start the season and they would have taken it in a heartbeat. It looks even better given the spectacular parity across the country week one. After plenty of upsets, thrillers, and shootouts, a dominant victory of any fashion looks pretty good right now.
And the Associated Press took notice Tuesday morning, revealed a new poll that ranked the Huskies as the eighth-best team in college football. That’s the first time since 2001 the Huskies have held that honor.
Chris Petersen was a first time offensive coordinator at Boise State in 2001.
In 2001, half of the students at this University were in preschool, including yours truly.
Being considered one of the best 10 teams in the nation was like talking to current students about dial-up internet: both ideas came from a bygone era. What the heck is 56k?
“It almost doesn’t feel right,” joked Jacob Hatloe, a lifetime Husky fan and UW sophomore. “I have no personal memory of Husky Football being anything but mediocre. I grew up thinking that was normal.”
It’s true. I can speak from experience.
For as long as I can remember, a bowl game has been the goal. Title contention was a daydream.
Seattle may have been known for football for the majority of my life, but that’s because the Seahawks have been relevant. The Hawks have only missed the post-season three times since 2003, launching a dynasty right at the same time Washington's legacy was going down the toilet.
With that in my mind, it’s no surprise the Seahawks have dominated fan interest, especially among the younger generations.
Now, for the first time since the beginning of the century, the Huskies have started to demand support.
Hatloe admits that he’s more excited about Washington this year than he is about the Hawks. That's the Super Bowl contender Seattle Seahawks.
I’d imagine there are lecture halls full of students who feel the same way.
Now judging by the eye test, I would estimate the Dawg Pack was about two-thirds full on Saturday. Off the cuff, that’s not ideal. However, roughly 20 percent of UW students are out-of-state students. On top of the that, there are plenty of students from as far away as Spokane, Bellingham, Vancouver, and all other corners of the state.
All of this, paired with the fact that most students aren’t back on campus yet, means that most of the students who were able to go to the game went. That’s not bad for a cold, rainy kickoff at 11 am against a 24-point underdog.
“Honestly I've been waiting for Husky Football to be on top again since I started coming to dawg games as kid with my parents,” added Noah Rankin.
“Every Sunday I'm already looking forward to the next Saturday to see what's next.”
Whether or not Husky Football is back on top has yet to be answered. However, it seems the program is well on its way.
Expect an overflowing Dawg Pack for conference games when the school finally has a full student body.
But until then, “I don’t care who they play,” asserted Hatloe.
“I’m there to watch them.”