Winning conference opener would be huge

As preposterous as it seems, the Huskies have a legitimate chance of winning their league opener against the California Bears. The Bears have owned the Huskies for the past three years, winning in Husky Stadium in 2002, 34-27, then, absolutely blowing the Dawgs away the last two years by scores of 55-7 and 42-12. At times it was really ugly.

However these are two entirely different ball clubs. It would be an upset and it will be a hard fought victory, but the Huskies are due and the Bears are vulnerable.

Last year, in their tenth game of their worst season, the Huskies actually made a game of it, in the first half. With the score 7-6 early in the third quarter, Cal blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown. Washington answered right back with a 77 yard bomb to Craig Chambers. Unfortunately, the Huskies missed the PAT and lost their 1 minute of momentum and the chance for the tie.

Cal went on to score 4 more TD's, one coming after a costly turnover by the Dawgs inside their own 10.

To win this year the Huskies have to play a full 60 minutes. Win the fourth quarter and win the game. After their Air Force collapse in the final quarter, you can bet they are going to be trying extra hard to "finish" the job.

Their game the previous year down in Berzerkley was the most devastating loss by a Husky football team in almost 50 years. The Dawgs were never in it from the first play of the game and got totally embarrassed by the Bears. They were mocked, insulted, toyed with, and thoroughly humiliated. It was the first time I'd had ever seen a Husky team roll over.

Many of the current seniors were on that Husky team and I can't help but believe they would love to have a pay back. Who would have thought years ago that beating CAL would make your season? Truth is, that is exactly where the Huskies are right now.

We're talking about the California BEARS. The same school the Huskies beat for 19 straight games! You don't lose to Cal! For years it was unheard of.

It could be that Washington is meeting California at the perfect time.

Cal Coach, Jeff Tedford, had worked his offense for years against the Huskies when he was the offensive coordinator at Oregon. He has not missed a beat since coming to Cal and no doubt will have his team ready. He just lost his quarterback to injury and the backup, a JC transfer, proceeded to the toilet in his first try at big time college football. The Bears victory over Sacramento State is difficult to assess because playing Sac State is like Washington playing Western Washington. It is obvious the Huskies need to stop the run and make the new QB beat them. That looks like a possibility. I think the Husky run defense can hold.

The Bears are missing other key ingredients that made them good the past few years. Start with Aaron Rodgers, a first round draft pick at quarterback, gone! Geoff Mc Arthur, their all-conference wide-receiver, gone! What about their all-league running back, JJ Arrington, who is about to become the starter for the Arizona Cardinals? Gone! They also lost most of their defense including All-American Ryan Riddle and a big chunk of their defensive line, gone!

I don't care what kind of genius the coach is, that is a lot of missing parts.

Coming out of spring their quarterback situation was as weird as Washington's. Based upon Stanback's performance against Air force, one would have to think that the Huskies have the better quarterback entering the game.

Coming into their fall camp it has been a contested position for the Bears between Nate Longshore and JC transfer Joseph Ayoob, out of San Francisco CC. Longshore won the job then got hurt. Ayoob doesn't appear ready.

I know they have another good back in Marshawn Lynch and I know they opened their season winning 49-3. I also know that they have had great cooperation from their admissions program, which allows them to restock with junior college players.

When Tedford first got to Cal, they immediately restocked through the JC ranks by signing 9 transfers. When that crop all left this past recruiting year, they sign another crop of 7 JC transfers. Hopefully they will have too many first year players starting and that will show playing their first big game in an unfriendly Husky Stadium.

Hopefully the Husky crowd will help win this game.

There is no question that the Cal program is at a more mature level than Washington's. Still, the facts are, they will have more new faces on the field than do the Huskies. The only difference will be is that they believe they are good and the Huskies are hoping they can become good. Belief is such a critical element to winning that it is almost as important as is talent.

For Washington to win this game they will have to do it by stopping not the Cal pass but their rushing game. Of course, they will need to continue to be solid in the kicking game and not turn the ball over, but if the Huskies can run the football and effective slow down the Bears rushing attack, they have a good chance of pulling off this upset. They just have to believe in themselves and in their coaches and who knows, maybe we'll all wake up next Sunday and be feeling good and knowing this program has finally started to turn the corner.

If they pull this off, for the rest of the month of September the Huskies would be in first place in the Pac-10. Every time those kids read the paper they will see themselves listed at the top of the conference.

There can not be a greater time for an upset than now.

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