Sometimes a mere four words come with enough dubious implication to describe an entire world of dread. A recent edition of Entertainment Weekly, for example, makes mention of "Madonna's first directorial effort," the Halloween-worthy portent of which is nearly as frightening to ponder as "Palin succeeds deceased McCain."
Closer to home, the equivalent might be "Six Husky games remain" and the related "Huskies host Notre Dame." The latter will be the case Saturday, Oct. 25, at 5 p.m., when a revived Fighting Irish contingent arrives at Husky Stadium to pick up where BYU, Oklahoma, Stanford, and, most recently, Oregon State left off. That would be adding to a Husky home scoring differential of 152-82. The Beavers, beating the University of Washington football team Saturday, Oct. 18, for the fifth straight time, didn't even have to bring an "A" game to Seattle, not when the supposedly rested Huskies started their first competition in 14 days with a delay-of-game penalty. Maybe a third week off would have had been the remedy for yet another Dawg-day afternoon in Huskyville.
Oregon State essayed a workman-like 34-13 victory, taking advantage of three interceptions and a fumble even while giving away twice as many penalty yards as the Huskies. With Jake Locker pronounced out for the remainder of the season, the UW's Ronnie Fouch has inherited the reins on offense. The quarterback threw for 276 yards, but all of them were overshadowed by the single 36 inches the Dawgs couldn't gain on four tries late in the game within arm's length of the Oregon State goal line. Terrance Dailey, a true freshman, ran for 102 yards, 59 of them on one fourth-quarter gallop that gave U-Dub its only touchdown. Sophomore wide-out D'Andre Goodwin had five grabs for 136 yards, which may bode well for next season, parts of which Tyrone Willingham may be able to catch on television, depending on where he then lives.
Rumors surfaced during the team's fortnight of inactivity that the Husky mentor might be let go at the midpoint of this season. Scott Woodward, the new athletic director, told the KJR-AM (950) raconteurs two hours before the Beaver game that speculation wasn't true about Woodward informing Willingham and his assistants they'd be let go soon. Ergo, Willingham and the declining fan base (only 64,000 showed up for the "homecoming" game and many had quietly left by the fourth quarter) presumably will have to put up with one another until the Cal game plays out Dec. 6 in Berkeley.
It's a scary prospect as the Dawgs plod along on a path that could lead to a winless season. The betting line against Notre Dame won't approach the 42½-point spread that USC more than covered Oct. 18 in the Trojans 69-0 comedic romp against Washington State in Pullman. But few give the Huskies a chance against the 4-2 Irish, which Willingham coached for the three years before his Seattle arrival. He was 21-15, with a 6-5 record in 2004, his final year.
There's always the possibility that the Huskies will summon what it takes to pick up a trio of wins (or one, at least) during November, when the schedule gives them Arizona State (2-4), UCLA (3-4), and the Cougs (1-7) on consecutive Saturdays. On the other hand, consider the fact that, for the Huskies, Halloween may in effect be extended an extra day this year because the schedule says Nov. 1 is when the Dawgs travel to Los Angeles. That's where, in four more frightening words: "Huskies to Face Trojans."