Expect to win. That’s the mentality the University of Washington should take into every game. The players do, and the fans should, too.
The Huskies are 13.5-point underdogs at home Saturday against the Oregon Ducks, but that doesn’t mean they’re underdogs in the classic sense of the word. They played the Stanford Cardinal down to the final play, and many would argue the Huskies outplayed the Cardinal for much of the game. The rankings say Washington is the No. 16 team in the country, but its play on the field would rank the Huskies even higher. The same can be said for the Ducks. They are ranked No. 2, but have played like the No. 1 team. Of course, it is going to be difficult to knock the Alabama Crimson Tide from their throne.
Rushing the field should be saved for a special circumstance. In my opinion, that circumstance rarely comes to a program with such rich history as the University of Washington. In 2009, rushing the field versus USC was called for, and a special moment, but that was coming off an 0-12 season. That victory proved to set a precedent for the future of Husky football under Steve Sarkisian. That team went 5-7.
It’s now 2013, and in Sarkisian’s fifth season, his team is shooting for the Rose Bowl. Despite playing in the most difficult division in college football, they have a real shot, too. It’s not unreasonable to think the Huskies will finish the regular season 10-2 or 9-3. No matter who you play, with that record and these expectations, you nor your fans should feel like they are big enough underdogs to rush the field after a win.
Obviously after nine years, the Huskies should feel like a win is more than overdue. But historically, they have dominated the Ducks. Times have changed; college sports are like that. Even your best players can stay for maximum of four years. It’s difficult to build a dynasty because of the constant overturn. What the Huskies had under Don James was special, and what the Ducks have now under Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich is, too.
After nearly a decade of futility and three head coaches, the tide is turning back into the Huskies favor. A win Saturday will prove that.
Each team has a Heisman candidate on it. Each is well on its way to a prominent bowl game. The Huskies own the history, but the Ducks own the present.
In my lifetime, the Ducks own the series, 14-4. Since I’ve been old enough to appreciate the rivalry, Washington has won one, maybe two games. If I were close minded enough to believe that’s the whole story, I’d have a different opinion on the matter. But history says the Huskies have dominated the Ducks, 58-42-5. Oregon may own a nine-game win streak now, but Washington has had four streaks of six. The Ducks’ next longest? Four.
Rushing the field is fun, and a special moment in anyone’s life. But don’t give the Ducks the satisfaction that they’re worthy to rush the field against. Leave that to the next team that upsets the Ducks.