4. USC Trojans
5. Utah Utes
Who will be the 4th best team in the Pac-12 North?
Answer: The Washington Huskies
@ Arizona State
@ Oregon State
Predicted Record: 6-6
Washington will be a better team this year than last year, as most of their offensive and defensive starters return for another go. On offense, the Huskies return 9 of 11, including veteran senior quarterback Keith Price, last season’s dominant receiving duo in Kasen Williams (Jr.) and tight end Austin Seferian Jenkins, and last season’s pleasant surprise in running back Bishop Sankey (Jr.). Despite many weapons, Washington had one of the worst offenses in the conference last year, so the amount of returning experience is a huge positive.
The Huskies also had one of the best defenses in the Conference and return many playmakers (DE Andrew Hudson and DE Josh Shirley, ILB John Timu, OLB Travis Feeney, SS Sean Parker, to name a few)–their frontline is going to be extremely tough against teams running traditional offenses.
So, with a better offense, an already solid defense and all around better team this year, why a predicted record that is worse than Washington’s 7-5 performance last year? Washington was able to play Utah, Colorado, California and Washington State last season–the four worst teams in the conference–and skip out on UCLA and Arizona State–two of the better teams in the Pac. They also got Stanford and Oregon State at home. This year, they will not get to play Utah or USC–both winnable games–and do not get to skip out on the best half of the conference. They will have to play Stanford, Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State on the road and will have to play two offenses at home they have shown to be very uncomfortable with–Arizona and Oregon. Needless to say, Washington’s schedule this year is far tougher.
Washington always seems to be the team that could do better with what it has and push over the hump of mediocrity, but nevertheless continues to stay right around where they belong–better than bad but not good enough to be great. Though a decent player, Keith Price has never come out of the woodwork to show he can compete with the best. This year will be no different, and I predict the Huskies will be one of the team’s in the Pac-12 looking for a changing of the guard at season’s end.