Derek Johnson, columnist:
I'm going with the Dawgs. In the early evening of Sept. 8, 2001, there was great distress in a certain living room in Flint, Michigan. My former 6'3 250-lb college roommate was in agony and had his face buried deep amid a sofa cushion. His perplexed wife called out to him, "Rikki, what's the matter, baby?" He cried out, "We just lost to Washington! From a blocked field goal! Even from 2,000 miles away, I can just hear Derek whooping it up. Oh god, ANYBODY but Washington! I HATE those sorry-ass poodles!!" His wife thought he was nuts. She may have to take him to counseling after this Saturday, as Washington goes into Ann Arbor and moves the ball well, winning 31-24. Look for Paul Arnold to have a big day.
Joe Kaiser, columnist:
Huskies, baby. It's a matter of the big-play offense versus the big-play defense. The Huskies will try to test Michigan's cornerbacks by putting the ball in the air, while Michigan will try to do what they were best at in the nation last year - rushing the quarterback. The game will come down to the running game, however. Michigan will try to pound the ball through the young Washington defensive line, while the Huskies will look to get junior Rich Alexis going. The threat of the Husky passing game will allow that to happen, and the Huskies will squeak one out in the Big House as the scoreboard will read Washington 30, Michigan 27. when all is said and done.
Rick Samek, columnist:
I love being wrong and hope that I am this week. First off, let me venture that I don't consider this as "gigantically huge" as the rest. The paper significance of this contest is how it relates to the BCS, and I just don't think that either of these two teams will be at the BCS altar when all is said and done, though I do think that Washington will be Rose Bowl bound (barring significant injuries, of course). The most glaring thing I see in such an opener is youth. Washington will start four sophomores on the offensive line, with four freshman backups. And that is GREAT for the future. But they'll be walking into a 110,000-acre fire having to fend off perhaps the best front four they'll see all year. The Huskies potentially have the most dangerous offense these parts have seen in decades, but it has to start up front. I do think the defense will be better than it was last year, though Michigan will probably try and cram it down their throats with their big backs and bigger line. Washington will start just five seniors on both sides. Only 40-percent of the Husky two-deeps are upperclassmen, while Michigan's top-44 contains 68-percent seniors and juniors. It's probably not worth much in mid-season or later, but I think it's a tremendous opening-game advantage for Michigan – especially at home. The Husky youth is something to behold, and to watch 'em grow over the next couple of years will be a gas. But there are always those dang growing pains to go through. I think Washington wants a shootout, but they won't get it, as Michigan wins it 26-17.
Dawn Van Diest, columnist:
Don't tick off a Wolverine. Lloyd Carr claims there will be no "revenge" factor for this game. Yah, right! I witnessed first-hand revenge being a major factor at Miami last year. Hopefully for the Dawgs, this environment won't be as raucous, and they will find their nerves of steel. It will be critical for the Huskies to eliminate any early mistakes or turnovers and keep the 100,000+ to a dull roar. Whoever can dominate the line of scrimmage will win the game. Can our offensive line give Pickett the time to find his blazing receivers down field? I sure hope so, and I hope I'm wrong about the final score as well because I see it as Michigan 30, Washington 20.
Pat Thrapp, columnist:
Touchdown Washington! I waffled for quite a spell on who would win this game. Look the Huskies have a fantastic cache of WR for a strong-armed QB. My question is can the Dawgs run the ball? They did pretty well against Texas their last game. Also, Reggie Williams went toe-to-toe with Texas' Quentin Jammer, now in the NFL. On the other side of the ball I have got to see some defense before I can truly believe. I'd like to think the defensive trench Dawgs will be ferocious and snarl with the best of them. They certainly have the talent. Many of the injured on defense last year are also back. To be honest I think it will be a back & forth affair. The match ups feature our strength, offense, against their strength, defense. It also matches up our possible weakness, defense, against their weakness, offense. Makes for a great match up I think. In the end the scoreboard will read Washington 27, Michigan 24, and the Huskies' final score will be a come-from-behind touchdown.
Henry Han, Intern:
New year, same story. If an inexperienced Cody Pickett-Reggie Williams combo did the job last year, I can see an experienced duo doing much much more. The hostile environment of the home crowd will be tough to overcome and the first game is usually the sloppiest. However, there is hardly any room for any mistakes against a very tough Michigan foe that is anxious for a little payback for last season's opening day loss. Nonetheless, I see the Dawgs leaving the Big House with their heads raised high after they beat Michigan 24 - 21.
Chris Fetters, Editor:
Wolverines bite hard at the Big House. One of college football's 'cathedrals' will be the scene of a real battle royale Saturday, and I feel that the 'Big House' is going to feel a lot like the 'Hot House' for some young Huskies looking to make their mark. There are 108,000 reasons why Washington should lose this game, but there's only one that matters - Michigan's defense. They were 8th in the country in rush defense, and that coupled with Washington's 111 yards per game average on the ground last year doesn't bode well for a balanced attack. That means the Huskies will live or die through the air. They have a potent air game, but Michigan's front 7 will force Washington to keep drives alive with too many third-and-long situations to overcome. Granted, Lloyd Carr will keep Washington in the game simply because of the way he plays football - ball control and field position. But Michigan will get up by 10 or 14, and since this is the opener it's probably too much to expect this young Washington crew to respond with poise. They still have a lot to prove when it comes to putting it all together on the road. Michigan wins this one 21-17.
Kim Grinolds, Business Operations:
It'll be a late Dawg Day afternoon. Washington will trail early and throughout most of the game as Michigan uses their ground attack to control the clock. However the Huskies have a fourth quarter flurry and vault into the lead with about six minutes remaining in the game. It is at that moment that the Husky defense makes their presence known and holds on for the victory. The home fans go home sad as the scoreboard reads Washington 21, Michigan 17.
David Samek, Dawgman:
I hate road openers and don't like this one for the Huskies. If Elliott Zajac, Kai Ellis (and a couple of the nicked up guys that I won't mention here) were 100% for this game, I'd feel much better. I see the real problem being Michigan's trenches being too strong for the Huskies. The Wolverine defensive front is considered to be the top unit in the Big-10 this year, and the Husky offensive line has not impressed so far this fall. I believe it will be a good unit by the time the Pac-10 rolls around, but will they open the holes necessary to garner any sort of running game to take the pressure off of Cody Pickett on Saturday? I don't believe so. Washington will score and they will come up with a big play on special teams from either ET or Nate Robinson, but they will also turn the ball over, something that the Wolverines don't do a great deal at home. The Wolverines go on to beat Washington 28 – 17, however this will be the last game Washington loses in a long while. They'll run the table in September and well into October.
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