We all know by now that Washington is capable of winning in blowouts.
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, only three of their 10 wins have been by less than 35 points. Yeah. That’s not a typo.
Those three games include their shootout 44-31 victory over SoMiss in the Something Something Dallas Bowl, their defensive stand down that was the final straw in The Royal USC Dumpster Fire 2K15 (17-12), and against Utah State in their first ever FBS win with Jake Browning at QB, which they still won by a comfortable margin of two touchdowns.
The only one of those that really went down to the wire was USC, and that win can almost exclusively be attributed to the defensive showing.
Other than that, every single close game has been a loss. The attempted game-winning drive against Cal ended in a 3rd down interception. The attempt to come back against Utah was decided by turnovers (and one or two very, very iffy calls). The attempt to come back against Oregon was ruined by awful clock-management.
When you look at it, we have yet to see the Husky offense come from behind in the later parts of a game. They have pulled away when things were tied (Southern Mississippi) and managed a vital first down to retain possession and run out the clock (Southern California) but they have yet to break out the clutch gene.
Part of that is a testament to UW’s floor-the-gas-pedal mentality: besides Couging it against Arizona State, Washington has shown the ruthlessness that has prevented opposing teams from making it close once the Huskies gain the upper hand. They don’t run up the score, but they certainly don’t take a lead for granted.
Another part is that Washington was super young and inexperienced. You know what’s extremely hard to do when you’re super young and inexperienced? Mount a comeback against a Division 1 FBS Power 5 team, that’s what. Washington’s now at a juncture of being the uncanny combination of young and mature and, if they’re gonna “prove it” like their pre-game warm up T-shirts say, it will depend on what we see from them when the going gets tough.
Because that’s coming. UW has looked legit in the second half of 2015 and the first three games of this season. But it’s coming. I don’t have to explain that there are gonna be some close, tough, grinding games on the horizon when you play in the Pac 12.
Washington’s ascendance in reputation is based in large part on passing the eye test when looking at the improvement over the course of last season, combined with advanced stats analysis. The conclusion: their wins in 2015 (and so far this season) played at an incredibly high percentile, while their losses were not played at a very low percentile. But no matter how encouraging that is, a loss is a loss is a loss.
Compare that to Washington State who, despite having a better record in 2015, never became the offseason darlings that Washington were. Based on how the Cougars have started their 2016, this could be legitimate. But as they showed last year, a win is a win is a win.
So although I don’t intend to take away from the Huskies for winning well - that would be absurd - I’m anxious to see them come out on top in the close battles.
Against Stanford, Oregon, Utah, Cal’s high-octane offense, the thorn in UW’s side that is Arizona State, Wazzu... Those are not gonna be 40-10 blowouts. And they all stand in the way of Washington realizing the potential that’s been predicted of them.