There is nothing like the feel of the kind of statement game Washington had against Stanford, winning 44-6 Friday night and into Saturday morning. You crush your conference’s traditional powerhouse, and the statement is this:
Hello! Washington is here again!
But there was a missing element to that statement. A great statement, like a great concert, speech or event requires someone to hear it, someone to see it, someone to believe it. Friday night and into Saturday morning? What kind of a timeline is that?
Being honest, the Pac-12 doesn’t have a lot of marquee games now that USC has become irrelevant. But when it has one and puts it on over midnight to most of the nation’s population, it comes off like a coyote howling in the night. It’s sort of happening out there somewhere.
This season, we have already seen so many defining statement games, and they’ve all met the criteria for a national discussion. Louisville embarrassed Florida State. Wisconsin beat LSU and then pounded Michigan State. Houston beat Oklahoma. Even Texas arrived again with its win over Notre Dame.
Those games drove the sports world’s discussion the next day. This one could be forgotten by noon.
The weekend is already set up as a Super Saturday, with No. 5 Clemson facing No. 3 Louisville, and No. 4 Michigan facing No. 8 Wisconsin. Top-10 teams going head-to-head.
But that’s what the Pac-12 had with No. 7 Stanford-No. 10 Washington, too, and its game came off like an opening act. You put a game on at an odd time like that if you’re the MAC, just figuring that if you’re on against the big boys, no one will watch you. The other game Friday night was Toledo vs. BYU.
When the next ESPN show came on, one of the first things host Scott Van Pelt said was this: “I’m not tired yet!”
In the end, maybe it won’t hurt Washington’s chances to be one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff. But you want to create a buzz, even if just for potential recruits.
What could Washington have done about it? All it could do was play the game on its schedule. And it did that masterfully.
But are we really supposed to believe in these guys? Here’s my short answer:
But here’s a quick quiz: Name one player on Washington’s team.
Washington is now the only team west of Texas that still has a shot at the national title. I mean, who would have thought that Washington would be the only representative alive from the left half of the country?
Washington? It was mediocre last year and brought a lot of people back. College football is all about player development, though, and that’s apparently something coach Chris Petersen gets.
Fairly or not, West Coast football has the image of a wild, up-and-down game—except for Stanford, which beats you with repetitive body blows until you just sort of sit down and give up.
Washington did not beat Stanford the way Oregon always tries to, by running away as fast as possible. No, Washington not only beat Stanford, but also beat it up. There is no way anyone from the Southeast is going to take Washington seriously.
But I, as a Midwesterner, thought it was a thing of beauty.
“All we heard about all week leading up to this, if you were listening to media—which you’re not supposed to do—but all we heard was Stanford’s O-line and D-line,” Washington quarterback Jake Browning said. “We took that personally.”
Yes, Washington’s lines looked as if they were twice the size of Stanford’s. That’s exactly where the game was won. There wasn’t even anywhere for Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey to run. He got just 49 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards.
His Heisman chances are done. Stanford isn’t going to make the playoffs.
But Washington did look like the type of power team that could transcend and work outside of the West Coast.
In January 2015, Oregon and Marcus Mariota beat Florida State and Jameis Winston in the Rose Bowl. It was a statement game for the entire Pac-12 that it belonged. But now Oregon has dropped off, and USC has disappeared.
And it’s going to take some work to believe in Washington. This year, we’re having to adjust our perceptions of college football programs, though.
Last week, I called this season college football’s Brexit, as establishment teams keep falling. So we’re still adjusting to Louisville, Wisconsin, Houston.
But at least we got to see them with our own eyes.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News