Coach's Corner

There's USC and there's the rest of the league. The Trojan toyed with the Cougars last Saturday just as they did with the Huskies the Saturday before that. Clearly, the men of Troy are in a league by themselves while the rest of the conference battles for who is next best.

Pete Carroll and his staff have put together the beautifully balanced team that can play right along with you and turn it on in time to win. The only time they have lost was in overtime to the Cal Bears, who the Huskies will not be taking for granted this year.

The Cal game was an anomaly. USC and Pete Carroll, with his Snow White hair, rule the roost. From my seat, I don't see them losing another game.

The Trojans look like they are headed for the national championship game against Oklahoma, and I will take regional and conference pride and root like heck for them.

That means the Rose Bowl is still up for grabs. Of course, the Rose Bowl itself could (and will probably) ignore the conference runner up, but they just might go with Washington should the Huskies run the table. Not likely, but it could happen.

It's now down to three more chances to get better for the Dawgs. Arizona comes up at the right time, and the Huskies need to put back to back wins together to get themselves pumped to avenge last year's upset to the Bears.

Arizona is obviously in shambles but the Huskies are sure to take a lesson from their game with Nevada. They need to go down to the dessert and beat the Wildcats convincingly. Grind 'em down, pound them with the run, Kenny James and Shelton Sampson with 50 carries between them. It's pretty obvious that when the Huskies have run the ball well they have won games. That should be the way Washington should play over the next three games.

28-1-1, since 1995, when rushing for over 200 yards, are the Huskies. That's domination. Watching the young backs romp on Saturday makes you wonder if the Dawgs finally have the running game back. I believe so, and just in the nick of time. A good running game, a good defense and a solid kicking game always keeps you in any hunt.

Arizona will make it a struggle for a while, but the Huskies have to pull the plug and win going away. It doesn't matter that the Wildcats will be looking to avenge a heartbreaking fourth-quarter loss from last year. That should serve to ensure the Dawgs don't take this one lightly, but they should also be motivated in that a win in the desert would qualify them for a bowl game and keep them in the hunt to finish second in the conference.

Washington has finished either first or second in the conference, (including ties) 18 of the last 26 seasons. That includes 8 conference titles and 10 second place finishes. This is by far the best of any team in the conference and adds to the tradition of Washington being one of the true premier programs in the western part of the country. This is the type of stuff that definitely helps a coach recruit. Take it from a guy that's been there, a second place finish would provide a nice edge when it comes to LOI day in February. It would add to the Husky tradition and history during a time where there are serious troubles surrounding the program.

Finishing second this year would probably put to bed premature rumors as to Washington's demise.

Another game that Husky fans will want to pay attention to will be this weekend's match up between UCLA and WSU, who are both 4-1. The way I see it, the Huskies need to root for the Cougs and then hope to win out, including beating the Cougars in the Apple Cup, to finish 6-2 in conference. With Bruin and Beaver losses to USC . . . Voila. A second place UW finish.

Reality is that the Dawgs can't look at any of that, and need to focus entirely on Arizona and take care of business in Tucson. They cannot afford another Nevada flat performance. They need to make a statement and they need this game.

Just win this weekend and there is a chance to go to Vegas. San Diego would be fantastic and the Rose Bowl is the ultimate. I would even like the Dot com. Or Silicon Bowl.

Anything but the Sun Bowl. But right now, I'll just take a win over Arizona. Top Stories