Jedd Fisch is less than a week into his tenure at Washington, and while the roster and coaching staff are far from complete, it could be a fun exercise to look at Washington’s Big Ten schedule next season and try to find the wins.
In Fisch’s first year at Arizona, he had to do a full rebuild and started his tenure 1-11 with a 1-8 conference record. Washington is in a much better place than Arizona was, but with a move to the Big Ten, his time in Seattle could get off to a shaky start.
Kalen DeBoer will be a tough act to follow after an undefeated regular season and national championship appearance. The job is made even tougher by the fact that the Huskies have lost their quarterback, his top three targets, and their running back to the NFL and WR4 to the transfer portal. Washington’s starting left tackle will likely be a first-round pick in the NFL draft, and two other starters off the Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line are in the portal.
That’s just the offense. The defense is also being gutted, with most of the secondary looking for a new home. Fisch only needed three years to turn Arizona into a Pac-12 contender, so he’ll likely have Washington at the top of the Big Ten soon, just not in Year 1.
Week 4 September 28: vs. Northwestern W
David Braun did an incredible job with Northwestern last season. He took a team that looked dead on arrival after an offseason scandal that led to the firing of Pat Fitzgerald and turned in an 8-5 season punctuated by a win over Utah in the Las Vegas bowl.
Braun did it despite his offense, which ranked a lackluster 124th in total offense. Quarterback Ben Bryant was solid, but is out of eligibility, and Braun hasn’t added any players in the transfer portal this offseason. He also recruited a class that ranked 106th.
There’s a chance that 2023 was his peak in Evanston because there are no signs that he can build a program. Braun was able to win with Fitzgerald’s players, but he can’t get his own players, and that well of talent will run dry quickly.
Week 5 September 28: at Rutgers W
It’s insane that Washington will be forced to travel to Piscataway New Jersey to play Rutgers, in a game that will likely kick off at 9:00 a.m. PT. Greg Schiano’s built a bowl-eligible team at Rutgers which is about the peak for that program, and considering the travel factor and relative continuity from 2023 to 2024 for the Scarlet Knights, I’ll take Rutgers in this way-too-early prediction.
I have little doubt that Fisch will be able to put together a roster with more talent than Schiano’s, but this will be a “Welcome to the Big Ten” moment from a team most synonymous with the old Big East.
Week 6 October 5: vs. Michigan L
Well, we saw how it went when Washington was loaded with Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan and Dillon Johnson with Kalen DeBoer on the sideline, and it wasn’t good. I’m going to safely assume that it’ll be a little bit worse this time around without any of them.
Yes, Michigan is going to lose Jim Harbaugh and J.J. McCarthy is going to the NFL, handing the program to Sherrone Moore will be a much smoother transition than the one Washington is going through.
Week 7 October 12: at Iowa W
Another “Welcome to the Big Ten” moment will be playing first to 10 points at Kinnick Stadium. I’m going to assume that Washington will escape with a low-scoring win, but the Hawkeyes might return a fumble, get a safety off a muffed punt, and kick a field goal to win 12-8 because that’s Big Ten football baby.
In reality, any competent team should be Iowa, which has a better chance of scoring if they played defense the entire game and punted on first down. Jedd Fisch’s team should be that competent.
Week 9 October 26: at Indiana W
For a moment, Indiana looked like it could be scary next year. Brendan Sorsby was impressive as a freshman quarterback and he had a few dynamic receivers to throw to, but Tom Allen was fired and is Penn State’s defensive coordinator and all of those offensive weapons have transferred away.
Curt Cignetti might be able to build something in Bloomington, but Jedd Fisch has the resources to build a lot faster.
Week 10 November 2: vs. USC L
USC is a total mess, and like Washington, the roster has been gutted this offseason. Yet, Miller Moss’s performance in the Holiday Bowl is enough for me to believe that Lincoln Riley can figure out how to fix things next year.
Riley has a quarterback and right now, Jedd Fisch doesn’t. If Fisch can convince Noah Fifita to follow him up north from Tucson, then I’ll change my tune on this matchup.
Week 11 November 9: at Penn State L
Penn State had the No. 1 defense in the country in 2023, and because of that, Manny Diaz left to become the head coach of Duke. Tom Allen came in to replace him, but the system will be very similar.
That’s good news and bad for Washington. The Huskies could have a tough time blocking Penn State’s front, but Jedd Fisch loves a quick passing game and that’s exactly how Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss shredded the Nittany Lions in the Peach Bowl.
This one might be closer than Penn State fans are prepared for, but ultimately Washington won’t be talented enough to beat James Franklin’s team in Happy Valley.
Week 12 November 16: vs. UCLA W
Washington lost its quarterback to the NFL, but UCLA had it even worse at that position this offseason. Dante Moore, the five-star freshman was the QB of the future for Chip Kelly, but instead, he transferred to Oregon to backup Dillon Gabriel after one year and nine games for the Bruins.
Like Moore, UCLA’s dominant defense won’t be back in 2024 either. Laiatu Latu and Gabriel Murphy are both headed to the NFL and defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn left for USC. Washington had to undergo a full overhaul this offseason and the Huskies are still in a better place than the Bruins.
Week 14 November 30: at Oregon L
I’ll say this Huskies fans, I hope Washington wins the Apple Cup in Week 3 because this one isn’t going to be pretty.