“Do you think if the Huskies win their first four they can roll into the Stanford game as a top-10 team,” asked my roommate, Jacob Hatloe, after the first AP poll was released in August.
We would text each other throughout the duration of the month between the breaking of the initial rankings and the day we moved back into our house, debating countless hypotheticals about the most hyped Husky football season of our lives.
“Can you imagine two top-10 teams in front of a sold out crowd at Husky Stadium?”
And boy did we imagine it. How could we not? It made sense. A top-15 team winning their first four games, including a road game in conference play? That definitely would warrant a spot in the top-10. It did, and what was a dream just a few years ago literally came true for Dawg fans young and old.
A sizable portion of Washington freshmen weren’t even born the last time the Dawgs hosted a game featuring two top-10 teams. That stat alone has rejuvenated the hype that captivated Husky nation before the season started.
In the past, my house Facebook page has been in a source for Husky tickets that would make Craigslist blush. This time the the script has been flipped. Never have I seen more people in pursuit of tickets.
Some other housemates with jobs are wearing purple to work, leaving early, and light railing straight to the stadium. This is the main event, the primary attraction, of fall quarter. And it’s coming at the perfect time. With school finally in session, every student is now on campus. A reunited fan base has its first chance at glory. They know that every voice matters and can’t wait to fill the Dawg Pack to its brim.
There’s no sign of a psyche poisoned by mediocrity and underwhelming output. That's all in the past. A short memory is as important for this fan base as it is for the players. Tell a Husky student that the last 10-win season came during the 2000-01 season and they won’t take you seriously. They don’t even remember the year 2000. All they care is that one of the best 10 teams in the country is their own, and they’re favorites in a matchup with last year's Pac-12 champions.
That being said, the hope doesn’t come without a little doubt. Isaac Andonian admitted to me Wednesday that the near loss to Arizona shook his confidence a bit. He watched the game on his phone at a wedding. You have to wonder if the overtime win took some of the happiness of the occasion away. But his concern won’t diminish his excitement. He told me that this is the most excited he’s ever been for a Husky game, and, trust me, his voice will ring loud in Ryan Burns’s ear all night Friday.
Hatloe, on the other hand, sees the brighter side to an overtime win on the road. He acknowledged the enormous talent difference between teams like Arizona and Idaho, and that going on the road and gritting out a win can be relieving and exciting all at the same time. Call it a wakeup call or whatever else you like, but he thinks that Saturday’s conference opener could have only made the Dawgs more prepared for what they expect to see.
The students are prepared. I’ve heard some rumblings about a few signs that will make an appearance in the Dawg Pack before kickoff on Friday. You’ll have to find out for yourselves what those signs say.
But hurry up! Tickets are disappearing quickly.