In retrospect the schedulers were to blame. The narrative for the past year had been that the structure now destined to be known forever as Old Husky Stadium would have dismantlers commence their efforts three weeks prior to the end of this season.
It should’ve been four. That way the ancient playground would’ve gone out a winner, accommodating the Oct. 29 victory against Arizona instead of the Nov. 5, well, dismantling of the Washington Huskies by a (nearly) national-championship-caliber Oregon team.
The score was only 34-17. But the Montlake Dawgs (soon to be the Pioneer Square pooches as they play home games at CenturyLink Field while Husky Stadium is renovated) never seemed to have a realistic expectation of pulling even with, much less defeating, the neighboring program that has owned them for most of a decade.
Pick your key statistic: Six? That’s how many times Husky quarterback Keith Price was sacked. Eighty-two? That was the Dawgs’ net rushing yardage, all but two gained by Chris Polk, with most of the heroic runner’s efforts ending against a flesh wall of Duck defenders. One-fifth? That was the approximate fraction of the Dawgs’ total offense gained on back-up QB Nick Montana’s only play, a 53-yard pass that came too late to give his club much hope of a comeback.
On both sides of the ball, the Ducks, as always, moved in two gears: fast and faster. They play with such dizzying efficiency that, for example, against the Huskies they needed just 24 minutes of offensive possession to put up enough points to beat the betting spread by one.
Afterward Husky mentor Steve Sarkisian said to reporters: “Well, obviously, I’m disappointed. I thought it was a tremendous atmosphere for Husky Stadium. I thought our fans really brought a lot of energy and excitement and, unfortunately, we didn’t perform well enough offensively to win. You can’t have three turnovers, you can’t have six sacks, you can’t give a team like Oregon short fields and expect to beat them. The reality of it is that you can’t expect to win against a really good team when you perform that way.” He praised his defense for holding the opponent to about 200 fewer than Oregon’s typical offensive output.
There hasn’t been a single surprise this season in Husky game results. The club has won the six it should’ve and lost three to superior teams.
If that patterns holds, the locals should pick up wins at Oregon State Nov. 19 and against Washington State at The Clink a week later. “Should” isn’t anything to take to the bank, and not just because banks are so unfashionable lately. On Saturday a hard-hitting Oregon State team was only down by 10 at halftime to a Stanford contingent that predictably triumphed 38-13.
At the same time Wazzu lost (badly: 30-7) to Cal in San Francisco. It was the fifth straight “L” for the Cougs. Paul Wulff’s name is still scribbled in as team mentor but a 3-9 season might make him find out the hard way why pencils have erasers.
Meanwhile, many on hand for the inevitable last dance at the cold but dry 91-year-old structure enjoyed the Husky Stadium party despite the outcome. The region has been inundated this week with stadium nostalgia. Particularly commendable was an hour-long remembrance of the structure and the football program that aired Saturday on KOMO-TV.
As for the program: The main question on this season’s schedule for the Huskies has been the Nov. 12 date, the game to be played at a civilized 12:30 p.m. Would UW be able to win a third straight against a bowl-banned USC team playing loose and mostly loss-less? And, beyond that, what’s the deal with having to play the Trojans on the road for a second straight year?
Here again, blame the schedulers.