Coach's Corner

Say it isn't so. Don't even begin to tell me the Huskies lost to the worst team in America. Hosting the 0-9 Cardinal appeared to be a scheduling break. A chance for this Washington team to rise up and beat an opponent that was down right terrible. A team that had also lost its best player and quarterback in Trent Edwards.

A team that was threatening to break the all time collegiate season's losing record.

So what the Hell happened?

With a potential winning season and bowl bid hanging on the game, the Huskies went out and laid an egg. They sunk back down to the bottom of the ocean. They are back down there at the lowest point they could find. They got beat by the worst team in Stanford's history. They got embarrassed.

They simply fell apart and lost the will to win.

It was certainly the worst performance by a Husky offensive team that I have ever seen. Other than the fact that they couldn't run the ball or pass the ball, they somehow figured how to hand to their opponent the game. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't even exciting.

Before the game was over the fans had emptied an already empty stadium. An announced attendance of over 58,000 was as ridiculous as the final score. There were probably a little over 40,000 fans in Husky Stadium making it the smallest crowd since they added the upper decks. They, too, gave up in disbelief.

It has to rank as one of the worst defeats and biggest disappointment in the modern history of the program.

This game, won by Stanford 20-3, ranks right down there with the 54-7 slaughter in Berkley in 2003, the 65-7 embarrassment in Miami in 2001, and the 55-7 drubbing in Nebraska in 1998. At least all of those massive defeats happened on the road.

This one, like the loss to Nevada a few years ago, happened right in their own backyard by an opponent that was clearly inferior in talent but simply stuck around just long enough for the Huskies to give them the game.

Stanford was not good enough to win the game on its own. They simply waited for the Huskies to self destruct. They did. It was devastating. It was sad. It was as though they had lost everything they had worked so hard to achieve the past 2 years.

That 4-1 record and bowl talk seems like years ago now.

Just when you feel like there is hope, this team does something to convince you they are still not very good. And they're not. That is the reality. They are still a lower division team in this conference. They play hard and then they don't. They are who they are and could really use their last game to right the ship.

And now we come to a great rivalry game. Now they have to readjust their goals and play for setting a foundation for the future. A win over the Cougars in the Apple Cup now becomes the defining point in the Willingham era.

It is an opportunity, no matter how small, to cast off the demons of the past two weeks.

Somehow the Cougars have found a way to lose in November again. They too, limp into the Cup with back to back embarrassing losses to the two Arizona schools. Their bowl game, once assured by their 6th win weeks ago, now hangs in the precarious balance. If they lose to the Huskies, they probably won't make it to a bowl. They have a lot to lose. This Apple Cup will determine the Cougars season.

It's pretty obvious how the loss of Isaiah Stanback affected this Husky team. He was the leader and obviously their biggest play maker. Since he went down there has been a huge void of big plays. The skill positions have been woeful the past month. There seems to be a cautiousness creeping back into the program. Rather than playing with emotion and excitement, the skill players appear to be worried more about screwing up than making big plays. The Husky offense of the first month of the season has all but disappeared the past two weeks. The backs have been tentative and unsure and the receivers, besides having trouble getting open have dropped way too many passes. The quarterback play has been just as bad.

That's not to say any part of this football team has been stellar. The lines have had their share of abuse and the kicking game has contributed by becoming worse as well. It all seemed to culminate with the Stanford loss.

But some of that can be washed away by beating the Cougars. This game offers these Huskies a chance to go out with their heads high knowing they won five games when everyone had picked them to finish last. They could deny the Cougars beating them three straight years and possibly even deny the Cougars a bowl bid.

There are probably about 20 Huskies who are about to play their very last game. It has not been a fun ride for this group. They will exit their careers without ever having played in a bowl game. It is the first class in decades to do so. They have endured the lowest chapters in Husky history. But they can win on Saturday, and believe it or not, they know it.

As an old Cougar myself, I can tell you that it will be a slugfest. The Cougs know what's on the line. They know they have a chance to beat the Huskies three times in a row for the first time ever. They know they get to go to Hawaii or some other exotic destination. They know they are probably the better team. However, just as Stanford proved, the better team doesn't always win.

Washington will be counting on that. It sounds sad, but it is what it is. Top Stories