This is about as surreal as it gets. If you told me a few years ago that the 2016 Washington Huskies would beat Stanford and Oregon by a combined 87 points en route to starting 6-0 I probably would have laughed. There’s no way the Dawgs I grew up watching would be capable of such a feat.
For that reason, the bye week couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. It’s as if it were placed entirely for my pleasure, allowing me to bask in the glory of early success. Husky Nation got the chance to catch its breath and appreciate what’s happening before their eyes.
Given the success, the national recognition and the accolades the Huskies have been racking up lately, campus buzz is at an all-time high. A typical lunchtime conversation at my house is ‘would you rather win the Rose Bowl or lose the Peach Bowl?’ The house is pretty split on that one: the Rose Bowl tradition is appealing, but the lure of playing in the College Football Playoffs is almost irresistible.
I heard people basically simulating match-ups with the nation's top teams in their heads, giving their thoughts on what would happen if the Huskies played Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, or Clemson. Fans’ minds wandered farther and farther into fantasy land as the luxury of a bye week came and went without the distraction of a college football game.
The most absurd thing I’ve heard this week is some of my friends’ parents have already bought tickets to the Rose Bowl. That’s a half a season away! In fact, it’s even more when you factor in the conference championship game. What’s crazier is that the first thought that came to my head when I heard that news wasn’t ‘oh my goodness, we’re more than two months away from the Rose Bowl, so much could happen during that time.’ It was ‘wait, are you saying you think the Huskies will lose a game? Why not buy tickets to one of the College Football Playoff games?’
Just like all Husky fans young and old, I am drinking the purple Kool-Aid. We are a fan base that believes.
But the reality of the second half of the season hit me like a rude awakening from the most pleasant of dreams. There are 510 scholarship athletes standing in the way of a perfect season. That perspective perfectly illustrates how difficult it is to run the table and a reminder of how arduous the football season is.
My major takeaway from observing the vibe across campus is that Washington has captivated the hearts of their fans. Whether or not Husky Stadium is sold out Saturday, I’m positive we’ll see a full student section that is ready to embrace the grind and milk every second of enjoyment out of this promising season.