Often doubted yet undefeated: The 2023 Dawgs

A 12-0 Huskies team gets to play the "No one believes in us!" card. What a time to be alive!

The Washington Huskies fell to 12-0 last Saturday, suffering a three-point victory when Grady Gross kicked a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

No less than an authority on college football than Jim Moore offered a blunt assessment of Washington’s prowess or lack thereof.

I’ve also been told – repeatedly – that Washington is about to get smoked by the best one-loss team in the history of college football. After all the Oregon Ducks are practically undefeated this season when you consider that they’re only loss came in a game where:

  1. Oregon outgained its opponent;

  2. Oregon forced more turnovers than its opponent;

  3. Oregon played on the home field of its opponent;

  4. Oregon was a field goal away from forcing overtime, and field goals are a fluky way to decide games unless we’re talking about 2018 when Washington missed what would have been a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation or 1994 when Washington missed two attempts at a game-winning field goal. Then, it totally matters.

OK, I’m going to pause here to plug “Say Who, Say Pod” which I record each week with Christian Caple of OnMontlake.com. The podcast has experienced tremendous growth this past year, and we’re grateful to everyone who has listened.

OK. Now back to Friday’s championship game. All that has happened since the first meeting between Oregon and Washington is that the Ducks have won the six games they played by an average of 26 points. The results against common opponents have been telling. Washington beat Utah by seven points, Oregon beat the Utes by 29. Washington beat Oregon State by two points, Oregon dusted the Beavs by 24. Given all of those facts, Washington should be considered courageous for deciding to play Friday’s championship game in the first place instead of forfeiting in order to give themselves the best shot in the Fiesta Bowl.

Hah. I’ve got to admit that it is enjoyable to see Oregon’s fan base performing the mental gymnastics this time around. That’s usually been Washington’s method for self-soothing over the past 20 years in which the Ducks have had the edge in this series. Hell, I remember way back in 1994 when Washington handed out a fact sheet at Jim Lambright’s Monday press conference to explain why the Huskies should go to the Cotton Bowl instead of the Ducks even though the teams had identical records and Oregon had won the head-to-head meeting. Newspaper circulation was one of the facts mentioned as was TV market.

I’m excited about Friday’s game. I had planned to be in Las Vegas until a scheduling conflict popped up. I don’t see any injustice in the fact that Washington must beat Oregon again. One of the goals in eliminating divisions within the conference was to increase the likelihood that the champion reaches the College Football Playoff and that’s exactly what is going to happen this year.

I also don’t mind that Oregon is favored by 9.5 points. They’ve played better than the Huskies over the past six weeks though I won’t go so far as to say that Oregon played better than Washington in the first meeting. The Huskies didn’t luck into those fourth-down stops, they made them. They won that game just like they’ve won the other 11 games they’ve played so far this season in what has been an absolutely unbelievable – though at times excruciatingly anxious – ride.

Friday’s game isn’t the end of the ride or even the climax necessarily, but I’m not sure that watching Washington win a national championship would top the feeling that would come from beating the Ducks for the third time in 15 months.

Go Dawgs!

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