A few weeks into the football season, we are none the wiser about where the major teams in the Pacific Northwest stand.
Each has, arguably, a bad loss on their record already, yet each has the potential to soar to the highest mountaintops.
The chances for each team are unlikely, but the fact that they are still possible gives fans reason for hope.
But also for despair.
This is the fascinating, maddening drama of the sport called football, which, if you are reading this, you probably love.
Let’s take a look at what’s going on with our local teams, one by one.
Start with the Seahawks. They roared out of the gate to a 2-0 start, albeit against somewhat inferior teams, though all (almost all) NFL teams have the potential to pull off a win on any given day. But then, last Sunday, the Seahawks laid an egg, at home, against the New Orleans Saints. Don’t let the final score fool you; the game was never that close. This came as a surprise, not just because it was a home game, but because the Saints didn’t have their hall-of-fame quarterback Drew Brees, in the game.
That said, the Seahawks still have everything in front of them. A 2-1 start is still promising. The upcoming schedule looks favorable, though this weekend in Arizona against Kyler Murray could end up being a trap game.
Bottom line: it’s still too early to say.
How about the Washington Huskies?
They, too, have mostly looked very strong, though they already have a bad loss on their schedule. They dropped a home game to Cal a few weeks back. Sure, Cal is 4-0, and looks better than people thought, though they still don’t get much recognition from the national media. It was a weird game with a three-hour rain delay that more than lived up to the reputation of #Pac12AfterDark.
In the long run, that’s a detail that most will forget, however. What they will remember is that the Huskies were supposed to win that game handily. They’ve since bounced back but face a tough matchup this weekend at home against USC. The margin for error, always thin in college football, is nonexistent for the Huskies. It’s win out or risk a season that will be chalked up by most to disappointment.
Moving south and east, what’s up with the Washington State Cougars?
They’ve mostly looked like a reloaded, high-octane Air Raid attack, not missing much of a beat from the Gardner-Minshew led squad of last year. But then last Saturday night happened. It will go down as one of the greatest examples of #Pac12AfterDark of all time. The Cougars blew a 30+ point lead against a bad UCLA team and ended up losing 67-63. The Cougars can still win the Pac-12 North division, but that loss probably doesn’t instill confidence in anyone that they will be able to do so.
Moving south, the Oregon Ducks have arguably the best “bad” loss of any of the teams mentioned thus far.
In fact, some will argue that it wasn’t a bad loss at all, that it was a “good” loss, because the team the Ducks lost to is the Auburn Tigers, who currently sit firmly in the top ten.
The reason it’s still a bad loss is that it reinforces the national perception that Pac-12 teams aren’t good enough to stack up against teams from down South or back East. The Ducks still have many things in front of them, but it’s hard to imagine them making the College Football Playoffs.
So what is the likely outcome of each of these teams?
Well, since the Ducks, Cougars and Huskies all play at the same level, in the same division, one of them will come out victorious over the other two. That victory will likely look like a division title and possibly a conference title. It’s almost impossible to see any of them going further than that. Of the three, the most likely victor is probably the Ducks, though it will be very interesting to see how Oregon does when they come to Montlake to play the Huskies in October.
As for the Seahawks, they are likely still a ten-plus win playoff team. As mentioned above, they’ll have to be careful this weekend in the Arizona desert. The following week, they get the Los Angeles Rams at home. We’ll know much more after that game.
What as fans are we to do? There’s little left to do other than sit back and watch. Scheme and pine and hope to your heart’s content. But also understand that the outcomes are out of our hands. Much as we hate to admit it, that is why we watch, right?