Eric Dore - Intern: Keith Price. When a team hasn’t scored less than 30 points in any game, usually the quarterback is the reason behind that statistic. The efficiency that Price has shown thus far is something Dawg fans haven’t seen in years. In fact he is on pace for just shy of 3,000 yards, and over 40 touchdowns through the air. To put those numbers in perspective, Washington hasn’t had a 3,000-yard passer since Cody Pickett and even more astounding, Pickett holds the record for touchdown passes in a season with 28. At this rate Price will smash the touchdown record before the calendar turns into November. I thought this season would be mired in a Jake Locker hangover from a standpoint of this position; quite frankly, Price has outperformed Locker, showing how much better he is as a true passer. Attention UW Marketing: Could we please get those 17 jerseys in stores already, what is the holdup!?
Scott Panitz - Intern: Keith Price. Really, he and Chris Polk are 1 and 1A, but I have to give it to my man Teeth because of the way he’s stepped in from the beginning of the year and been a leader and a warrior. His teammates rave about his presence in the huddle, his poise, his persistence, and his ability to find the open man – whoever that might be. He’s got everyone on the offense giving maximum effort for him on every snap. His performance on the field has exceeded everyone’s expectations except for maybe himself. He ranks 10th in the nation in passer rating, second in touchdown passes, and has proven to be amongst the elite passers in a conference replete with touted veteran signal callers. And he’s done all of this while playing on two bad knees that have him at around 70 percent health. Plus, I don’t remember seeing a Washington quarterback with his kind of touch on the deep ball since I can remember watching football (though, admittedly, that only covers about the last 15 years).
Kim Grinolds - Business Operations: Chris Polk. As great as Keith is playing, Polk is the heart and soul of the offense. His toughness and attitude is what cranks the tractor. Like Rondeau said ‘ Chris Polk is a monster ” I agree.
Scott Eklund - Recruiting Guru: Keith Price - Really, I thought this would be a hard decision due to Chris Polk's outstanding start to the season, but Price has far surpassed what most people thought he could do and he's done it on two bad knees. Price is confident and when you've thrown for 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions in the first five games of the season, it makes UW's offense so much harder to defend against.
Chris Fetters - Editor-in-Chief: Keith Price. How can it be anyone else but Price? He has been the perfect compliment to Chris Polk, taking advantage of Polk's running by finding open receivers with the play-action game. Leading the conference with 17 touchdown passes and a nearly 175 QB efficiency rating? Are you serious? And the scary part is that we've only seen half of Keith's game; when his legs get back to 100 percent and he has his full athletic arsenal behind him, he could be super-duper scary.
Dave Samek - The Dawgman: Chris Polk. For as good as Keith Price has been, Polk has been the glue that has held this team together. He can be counted on to be a steady four-yard gain, and then when opportunity presents itself, he can bust one on you. Just when defenses think they have him bottled up....POW! No. 1 coming right up your tailpipe!! Polk is an NFL caliber back and every other team in the conference would love to have a horse like him. He sees the field like Walter Payton, he breaks tackles like John Riggins, and he has a burst through the hole like Thurmond Thomas. Polk is my MVP thus far.
ED: Cort Dennison. While it seems as though the Husky defense has done just enough to get by in four out of five games, one guy who has been steady all year long is Cort Dennison. He leads the team with 44 tackles and 4 tackles for loss. Beyond the numbers there isn’t a stat for the intangibles that Dennison brings to the table. He is the clear-cut leader of not only an otherwise very inexperienced position, but of the entire defense. One could take a fair amount of players off this defense and still be 4-1. If one takes Cort Dennison off this defense, Washington would be hard pressed to still have 4 wins at this point. In my mind, MVPs are irreplaceable players and that is exactly what Dennison is.
SP: Cort Dennison. And there’s not even a number two in my opinion. Cort leads the team in tackles (44) and tackles for a loss (four) and has forced a fumble. His two pass breakups came at critical times against Cal. He’s the heart and soul at the center of the defense and the steadying force in a very young, inexperienced linebacking corps. And, like Price, he’s been playing hurt all year.
KG: Alameda Ta’amu. It all starts in the middle . He may not be playing as well as some had hoped, but he demands a double team which opens it up for the other guys. It all starts in the middle up front.
SE: Cort Dennison - There really was no question in my mind who the leader of the defense was heading into the season. All Dennison has done is be the glue at the middle linebacker position, rarely coming off the field and averaging nearly nine tackles a game. He isn't spectacular, but he's smart and he gets the job done.
CF: Cort Dennison. He's the heartbeat of the D, and that was really in evidence Saturday night at Utah. You could tell how much that game meant to him. He personifies toughness and football savvy. Sure, guys like Alameda Ta'amu, Desmond Trufant, Sean Parker have legit claims, but Dennison is the glue that keeps the UW defense together, especially when it looked like things were falling apart.
DS: Cort Dennison. Dennison is by far the most reliable defender on the field. He always know where the opponent's point of attack is going to be, so when he runs out of his assignment, it's for good reason. Cort has saved the defense on more than a few occasions, and when the play comes at him, he usually will have a hand in stopping it. Not the fastest or the strongest guy on the defense, but definitely has the best football instincts on the stopping unit. He will need some help from his fellow linebackers in the second half of the season. Hopefully Jamaal Kearse and Garret Gilliland are the answers. Against Utah they made the defense look better.
Special Teams MVP:
ED: Erik Folk. In reality I could give a “bail out answer” and give this award to the entire coaching staff, as they are the ones responsible for dedicating extra practice time and commitment to an area that was in desperate need of improvement. They have turned special teams from being a major weakness in past years to a strength this year. Erik Folk is the Special Teams MVP through 5 games. He has gone 7/8 with a lone miss of 52 yards and six of his field goals have been from beyond 40 yards with a long of 53. In the EWU game he hit three field goals, a game the Huskies won by three points. There is also something to be said for the field goal he hit against Utah, which sent the Huskies into the half time locker room with some much-needed turn of momentum. The Huskies are extremely lucky to have a weapon like Folk for when the offense stalls out. On kickoffs where the one knock on Folk has been his distance, he has been much better of late driving the ball into or near the end zone, which has allowed for fantastic coverage the past two games against Cal and Utah.
SP: Desmond Trufant…just kidding. I’m going to break the rules and split this award into a three-way tie among Jamaal Kearse, Garret Gilliland, and Tim Tucker. These three have been instrumental to Washington turning it around on kick coverage with their big hits and opportunistic play. Obviously, Kearse had the touchdown last week, but Washington has shored up an area which was a huge weakness last year largely due to the contributions of those three guys.
KG: Erik Folk. His kickoffs have been deep and he’s been nearly perfect with his FG’s. His only miss was outside 50 he’s become automatic.
SE: Jamaal Kearse - Kearse has really burst onto the scene this year with his play on both special teams and while filling in on defense. He has the biggest hit of the season so far, a bruising hit on California RB Brendan Bigelow, and he was 'Johnny on the Spot' last week when he picked up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown on the opening kickoff against Utah. It's better to be lucky than good...fortunately, it appears that Kearse might be both.
CF: Desmond Trufant and Greg Ducre. I give a lot of credit to the special teams, and in particular the cover teams, to the gunners. They are the ones that get downfield the fastest and help fit the run exactly where they want it to go. It's a reason they are much improved on both kickoff and punt cover, especially on punts. They've gone from giving up an average of 10 yards per punt return to four. That's big. And it's a reason why the defense has been able to get away with playing some bend-but-don't-break defense; the cover teams are ensuring the opposition offense has to cover a lot of ground in order to score. Yes they do need to clean up interference issues, but Sark has said themselves that if they are going to run into walls, he wants it done full-speed. Those are effort penalties, and when people talk about the job guys like Jamaal Kearse and Garret Gilliland are doing, it's because the outside contain men are fitting the run into those bigger linebackers. And that's why I think Trufant and Ducre should get the most credit right now.
DS: Erik Folk. Folk has been nearly perfect and his renewed confidence is a lethal weapon for the Huskies offense this season. Folk has been automatic, so much so that Sark feels he's got three points in his hip pocket when he crosses over the opposition's 30-yard line. That is one special weapon to have when you are a play caller approaching the red zone. You can afford to take chances knowing Folk is there to spot you to a field goal should you make a bad call.
ED: Without a doubt it’s the tandem of Steve Sarkisian and Doug Nussmeier. They have turned Keith Price into one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in only his sophomore year with hardly any D-1 experience. As long as these two guys are in the fold at Washington, Quarterback U is in good hands. The resiliency that this team plays with is something that Husky fans should be very proud of. After struggling against two weaker opponents and then losing in a very disappointing fashion to Nebraska, it would have been easy for the Dawgs to lie down and play uninspired versus Cal. The fact of the matter is that the Huskies embraced the 24 hour rule and sit atop the Pac-12 North. As an aside that third quarter against Utah was the best third quarter the Dawgs have played in a long time. Sarkisian smelled blood in the water and pounded Chris Polk down a tired Utah front, absolutely dominating possessions and keeping the Washington defense off the field, as the Huskies marched to a blowout.
SP: If I can’t pick Sark (which I think I can, but that’s boring), I’m going to go with Johnny Nansen. Point blank, special teams have gone from being a gaping black hole to an undeniable strength.
KG: Doug Nussmeier. See Keith Price.
SE: Steve Sarkisian/Doug Nussmeier - The way Sark and Nuss have developed Price is nothing short of astounding and then throw in the fact they Sarkisian has really been on a play-calling roll, I don't see how it could go to anyone else.
CF: Steve Sarkisian/Doug Nussmeier. If Price is your Offensive MVP, you have to go with Nuss Sark as your Coaching MVP's. And really, this isn't just the product of what Price has done since being named the starter one week removed from spring; this is the product of the relationship forged between Nussmeier, Sarkisian and Price from the moment Price stuck with his verbal commitment to Washington. This is exactly what would have happened with Jake Locker if Jake was allowed to grow and thrive in the same kind of environment Price now finds himself in. Between the development from Nuss and the utility of Sark, the evolution of Keith Price's collegiate career is on a star-making trajectory.
DS: Steve Sarkisian. Is there a better play caller in the Pac-12 to date? I'd have a hard time finding one. He is proving to be an elite level offensive mind, and defenses have yet to really stop him. He knows when to call misdirection, he uses counters very effectively, and his timing for when he unveils screen passes is uncanny. It's as if he knows what defenses are going to do. And he always, ALWAYS has something he is sitting on in the second half. He burned Cal with the fly to Polk and he burned Utah on the inside screen to Williams inside the red zone.
ED: Colin Tanigawa. Sure Keith Price has been more than a pleasant surprise, but how about a player that has a direct impact on Price’s success? Colin Tanigawa is the biggest surprise. Usually it’s a weakness to have a red-shirt freshman starting on the offensive line, not in this case. While Sarkisian has publicly called out the right side of the line and even benched Erik Kohler for Micah Hatchie for a period of time in the Utah game, very little has been mentioned about Tanigawa. Offensive linemen are like referees in the regard that if nobody is talking about them, they’re probably doing a good job. Tanigawa is going to be a mainstay on this line for the next three and a half years, a statement that nobody would have made to begin the year.
SP: Besides Price, whom I expected to be good, but not this good, I think the biggest surprise has been the poor play of the defensive line. Coming into the season, I thought the line would be the strength of the defense, but it hasn’t played out that way. Six sacks through five games aren’t going to get it done, and a lack of pressure has been a major factor in the team giving up so much passing yardage. Opposing quarterbacks have had time to sit back in the pocket and pick out an open receiver. It’s amazing the impact a 300 pound man bearing down on a QB like a runaway 18-wheeler has on passing accuracy. That hasn’t happened enough so far. Alameda Ta’amu hurt his arm before the first game and has been disappointing. Talia Crichton has done nothing. Everrette Thompson has been shifted back and forth between end and tackle so often he hasn’t gotten comfortable. Hauoli Jamora is out for the season, and Danny Shelton and Lawrence Lagafuaina are still very young. However, with the reinsertion of Semisi Tokolahi into the lineup in the Utah game, the line played much better, holding the Utes to 17 rushing yards and 305 yards passing with two sacks. The 322 total yards surrendered was by far the lowest total the team has given up this season, and the 305 yards through the air were the fewest given up to a team with a quarterback who has an arm (Nebraska’s Tyler Martinez being the obvious exception).
KG: Keith Price. Nobody, and I mean nobody could see this coming.
SE: Besides Price's outstanding play, it would have to be the lackluster play of DT Alameda Ta'amu and CB Quinton Richardson. Both were expected to be leaders this year, but Ta'amu has looked average while Richardson has really taken a step or two back from the way he played last year. Ta'amu appeared to have a resurgence last week when Semisi Tokolahi joined him and hopefully that means improved play. Richardson has essentially lost his starting job to Greg Ducre and unless he plays better he will be relegated to a nickel or dime role down the stretch.
CF: Keith Price. I thought Keith had the potential to be a wildcard, but more due to his running. I thought that would be the real X factor. What I didn't realize was just how clutch he would be in key situations, as well as just how accurate he's been. It's been a lot of fun watching him confound the opposition, all done with that trademark smile on his face. Teeth indeed!
DS: Colin Tanigawa. This kid is showing a nasty streak and a propensity to hit guys in the mouth and like it. I didn't realize this redshirt freshman was this far along in his development. He is arguably having as good of a season as the more celebrated guard, Colin Porter. Tanigawa has really surprised me in a very good way.
Key moment (the key play/moment from the first half - roughly - of the season):
ED: The goal-line stand against Cal. On all four plays Washington had a number of different guys step up and earn an ever so important conference win. On first and goal Josh Shirley got in the face of Zach Maynard to force and incompletion to go along with outstanding coverage by Jamaal Kearse. Coach Holt called it a tricky play to defend so props to the inexperienced Kearse for playing exceptional, assignment football. On second down, Sean Parker took out a blocker and Andrew Hudson got off a block to contain Isi Sofele for no gain. On third down, Alameda Ta’amu penetrated the backfield, forcing Sofele to run east-west instead of north-south, allowing Justin Glenn to fill the gap and make a tackle for a loss. On fourth down Quinton Richardson had great coverage as Maynard had no room to get the ball to Keenan Allen. A sign of a good defense is different guys stepping up on different plays. On each down one or two different guys allowed for this critical goal-line stand. If the Huskies continue to build on this stand and their performance against Utah, they can credit this stand as a turning point.
SP: When Zach Maynard’s pass to Keenan Allen sailed over his head and out of bounds, sealing a victory in Washington’s Pac-12 opener against Cal. Some individual defenders made some big plays against Hawaii and Eastern, but that goal line stand was a total team effort and, judging from the way the defense played against Utah, seems to have instilled a much needed sense of belief on that side of the ball.
KG: The first offensive play of the first game.........Chris Polk lined up at tailback. Nobody seriously expected him to be back from his knee surgery let alone set the tone for the offense . He didn't miss a beat and let it be known he was a force from the first carry.
SE: Goal Line Stand versus Cal - There are a few to choose from, but I really think the goal line stand against Cal to seal the win was a moment that might have galvanized the team. Nick Holt and the entire defense had been raked over the coals the entire week after giving up huge yardage to Eastern Washington, Hawaii and Nebraska, but holding Cal to just three points in the second half and preventing the Golden Bears from tying the game at the end was huge and seems to have given the defense some confidence and the hope has to be that it can carry over to the remaining seven games and a bowl game.
CF: Desmond Trufant's game-saving pick against Eastern Washington. As bad as UW played - and they played poorly - we wouldn't be so optimistic right now if it wasn't for that play. Even going forward the best they'd be right now is 3-2 and people would still be talking about losing to the FCS Champions. You'd never hear the end of it, in fact. But Tru came up with the play that mattered, they were able to get that performance out of their system, and it's been mostly smooth sailing ever since.
Top Offensive Play:
ED: Third and long and only up one point against Cal in the fourth quarter, Keith Price hooks up with Chris Polk for 70 yards and a touchdown. This was an extraordinary play call dialed up by Sarkisian as not even Husky fans let alone the Cal defense would expect to see Chris Polk streaking down the field in the passing game. Not much more needs to be said here, a clutch play in a pivotal part of the ball game.
SP: The 70 yards touchdown pass to Chris Polk during the fourth quarter of the Cal game. Not only was it executed to perfection, but it also proved to be the game-winning score.
KG: Whatever play it was that tweaked Keith Price’s knee. It forced him to become a QB and not rely on his legs. It’s forced him to look down field and stick with plays much longer before taking off. It was a blessing in disguise.
SE: Price to Polk for a 70-yard TD vs. Cal - This combined a lot of things - a brilliant play-call, perfect execution by Price and Polk and outstanding protection by the offensive line - and it led to a win over the Golden Bears.
CF: Price to Polk for 70 yards through the heart of California's defense. It was the right call at the right time to really snatch the win for the Huskies. It was also the microcosm for how game plans are studied, created, practiced, and then implemented at the crucial moment of a game. Talk about scouting, designing and executing the perfect play call! It was a thing of beauty.
DS: Counter draw play to Chris Polk. When the line holds their blocks for that extra beat, it is a thing of beauty to watch No. 1 come bursting through the line and make that first cut that always makes the linebacker either whiff or attempt a swiping arm tackle that is easily broken. Polk has had as many as 49 yards on that play, and it is a back-breaker for defenses.
Top Defensive Play:
ED: Like I said before the defense has left a lot to be desired, but give them credit they have show up multiple times in crucial situations. Maybe an underrated play came this past week when under 5 minutes to go before halftime, Utah completed a pass for a first and goal looking to go up 7 points until Desmond Trufant ripped a fumble and recovered it, which set up the eventual Erik Folk field goal to take the lead at half. However, I’m going to go with another Trufant play, the interception he had against EWU to seal what would have been a disastrous start. If EWU finishes that drive with a touchdown it would have tempered a lot of expectations regarding where this team could go. As it stands now, a loss to Nebraska on the road is nothing to scoff at.
SP: While it wasn’t the most key, Desmond Trufant’s interception of Eastern quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s fourth quarter pass was a spectacular play. He read the route, stayed on the receiver’s hip the entire time, leaped up and made the pick. Textbook.
KG: Whatever the play was that knocked Jordan Wynn out of the Utah game. Once he didn’t return, it was game over.
SE: Desmond Trufant's interception to seal win versus Eastern Washington - This could have gone to third down in Washington's goal line stand vs. Cal, but if Trufant hadn't made that play, oh boy, Husky fans don't even want to think about what might have happened if the Eagles had scored.
CF: The fourth-down attempted fade by Cal's Zach Maynard to Keenan Allen. Granted, you could argue it was more of an offensive breakdown than a great defensive play, but I think the play was a perfect example of how scouting and preparing for an opponent through film study can give you an edge and force the other side into a poor decision. Washington DC Nick Holt knew Cal wanted to go to either Keenan Allen or Marvin Jones, and based on the alignment, he saw early that they wanted Allen on the fade to the far side. Holt was able to relay that information to the defense, and Quinton Richardson was in a great position to make a play on the ball even if it had been thrown perfectly. Again, great preparation by the defense, great recognition by the coaches, and great communication to get the information out to the field in time to make the correct adjustments. Well done by everyone involved.
DS: The interception by Desmond Trufant against Eastern Washington. Let's face it, had Washington lost that game, this team might very well have been on it's heels all season and second-guessing their coaches. All the brilliant fans on the internet calling for coaches to be fired might have actually gained some traction. Instead, Trufant made a HUGE play in game 1 that set the tone for the season. Washington wasn't going to lose any games that they shouldn't.
A player starting to make a move in the 2nd half of the season (Offense):
ED: Chris Polk. Some people may want to look to Kasen Williams or Austin Seferian-Jenkins to break out. While these two are merely showing a glimpse of how phenomenal they can be, the Husky receiving corps is so loaded it will be hard for either to break out on a consistent basis. I look for Chris Polk to really bust out in the second half of this season. You may be thinking, “Chris Polk, he’s no surprise, we know all about him.” The thing with Polk is that it looks like for the first time this year he really had his legs underneath him against Utah. Sure that was already his fourth one hundred yard game of the year, but a couple of those long runs he busted were what he had been devoid of the previous four games. The second half against Utah was the 2010 Chris Polk that I was used to seeing as he finished with 189 yards. Clearly Sark and Polk weren’t making any excuses for his balky knee, but I think he is finally one hundred percent. This bye week is critical for Polk to rejuvenate himself for a grueling second half schedule.
SP: Bishop Sankey. I remember watching him during fall camp and thinking, “Man, this kid looks legit.” I even texted my old high school buddy who went to Wazzu, saying that I thought he looked like the second best running back on the team. Sure, I was rubbing it in a little, but I was also serious. I think moving forward – even when Jesse Callier gets back to full strength – the team is going to find more and more ways to get him the ball.
KG: Kasen Williams. He’s like a bomb waiting to go off. We’ve seen glimpses, but once they start throwing to him downfield and letting him go get the ball……..he’s going to be special.
SE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins - For the most part, we know about the rest of the offense, but I get the feeling we've just seen the tip of the iceberg with Seferian-Jenkins. He's a mismatch the moment he steps on the field and once the Huskies figure out how to get him the ball in more situations, especially around the goal line, they could end up being that much more deadly.
CF: Kasen Williams. Like he showed in the second half against Utah, his ability to block and get out in front of ballcarriers to take decent gains into long runs will put him in great shape with the coaches. We already knew he was going to be a physical force, and every time he's caught the ball with a little bit of space he's made defenders pay. He's getting comfortable, and now he's got two weeks to really get going. Once he's fully healthy, I expect Kasen to find the ball a few different ways, especially on fades in the end zone.
DS: Kasen Williams. He is very close to breaking out in a big way. He is fast, he is huge, and his hands are so advanced for a young player. Williams is the entire package, and his explosiveness is going to show itself very soon. He can leap higher than any other player by a long shot, and his 215 pounds are of the chiseled variety. I just can't see a talent of his caliber staying in the background for much longer.
A player starting to make a move in the 2nd half of the season (Defense):
ED: Greg Ducre. With such an inexperienced defense you can look to a number of guys who are capable of strong finishes. Sean Parker, Jamaal Kearse, Josh Shirley, and the recent addition of Semisi Tokolahi are certainly players who fit this category. Ta’amu even admitted that he felt better himself with Tokolahi next to him and clearly it showed as they only surrendered 17 rushing yards. The Washington run defense has a chance to continue to be very solid, my concern is their pass defense. A player who can sure this area up is Greg Ducre. Early on in the season Ducre like any other young player had his ups and downs, but he had a very solid game against the Utes. The pass in which he intercepted is only one example in regards to how good Ducre can be. He didn’t fall for the double-move the receiver tried to put on him as he went up and won the ball against the taller offensive player all while having the wherewithal to come down inbounds to complete the interception. On top of this play he already has recovered two fumbles, which is a positive sign that shows he is around the football. If the Washington pass defense is to get better I look for Ducre to be a key reason.
SP: Jamaal Kearse. I really like this kid. He’s got a great attitude, great athleticism for his position, and is learning how to be a linebacker more and more every day. Coach Sark remarked that the younger Kearse has a bright future, and I think that future is going to come sooner than later.
KG: Sean Parker. He’s really coming on.
SE: Sean Parker - The sophomore has really come along the past few weeks, especially vs. Cal and Utah and looks to be the player they thought they were getting when he committed to them on signing day back in 2010. Parker has flown around the field, showed good awareness in his pick of Utah QB Jordan Wynn last week and he's really starting to asert himself leadership-wise as well.
CF: Alameda Ta'amu. He's been a volcano slowly bubbling to the surface - and now that Semisi Tokolahi appears to be back on the mend Ta'amu might appears ready to erupt like he did at the end of last season. He's always been a force inside, but for some reason he just hasn't found that cutting edge that made him unstoppable by the Holiday Bowl. I think Colorado just might get the full Ta'amu package, and it will be the beginning of his run toward All-Pac-12 honors.
DS: Jamaal Kearse. You already saw him have a huge play on special teams against Utah and he had a big role in the goal-line stand against California. Kearse might be the answer at linebacker that the struggling defense has been looking for. He is quick and really hits hard. He just looks like a linebacker, and I think his confidence is beginning to soar.
From here on out (original prediction/final record projection):
ED: Originally I had the Huskies down for seven regular season wins and a bowl game. They should exceed my expectations as they are staring 8-9 wins right in the face, which to me would be a successful year. What will change as the season progresses is playing as the favorite instead of the underdog. As the underdog they have played with a real chip on their shoulder and they need to maintain that attitude when they play weaker teams. Colorado will be the first test after the bye that will show if the Huskies are vulnerable to complacency. I think they will finish with 8 wins, beating Colorado, Oregon State, Washington State, and either Arizona or USC. The offense as we know can play with anyone, it’s the defense that will decide how far this team goes. In the end they finish behind Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State (only because they play in the weaker Pac-12 South) and earn a birth to the Sun Bowl.
SP: Man, I had the Dawgs at seven wins at the start of the season, but I’m going to have to change that. I was extremely encouraged by the defensive performance last week and think the bye has come at a perfect time. I think they can beat all the remaining unranked opponents on the schedule (everyone besides Stanford and Oregon), which would get them to 9-3 on the year and into a great bowl game. And, call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be shocked beyond belief if they pulled off an upset against either the Cardinal or the Ducks. It’s going to be a good rest of the year, Dawg fans.
KG: Colorado – Win; Stanford- Loss; Arizona – Win; Oregon – Loss; USC – Loss; Oregon State – Win; WSU – Win. Finish 8-4. Arizona could be a game they could falter in if they get beat up at Stanford.
SE: Washington should beat Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State, and they have a puncher's chance against USC, even though it's on the road. The only games I can see where they "should" lose is on the road to Stanford and at home versus Oregon, and even then I think the Huskies have a chance, but it would be a significant upset if they won either of those game. I see an 8-4 record and a berth in the Holiday Bowl once again or the Sun Bowl, depending on how things fall.
CF: I originally had the over/under at 7 wins, and I think that's still a fair assessment - although I'm starting to lean toward 8. It will be interesting to go back at the end of the year and see if there were any games where the Huskies faltered; last year's Arizona State game comes to mind. Could that be Arizona? Could it be at Oregon State? The Beavers are awful right now, but Mike Riley is a very good coach and I don't expect OSU to be down for long. Either way, a bowl game is a shoe-in, and depending on how they play from here on out, many may feel that 7 wins will be a disappointment. 8-4 and heading to another holiday in San Diego sounds about right to me. How about you?
DS: My original prediction was 7-5. I am going to say that they improve that by one game now, and finish a VERY respectable 8-4. I still think the Huskies will struggle with Oregon, Stanford, and USC, but they can win the rest. I figured on a loss at Utah, so that is the one difference I'm making in my updated forecast.