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Meet the Nation’s Most Statistically Incredible Team – The University of Washington Huskies

University of Washington football fans fell on the short side of the stick on Saturday (10/13/07) when the Arizona State Sun Devils blew through Seattle and extended their winning streak to 7 with a 44-20 victory in the second half. The Sun Devils beat Washington in the third quarter 21-0 and in the second half 31-3, and that’s a good thing because if the game had ended at halftime, Washington would have won 17-13.

Therein lies the challenge for the young and inexperienced Washington Huskies: they played a terrible 3rd quarter and have yet to learn how to win games.

This stat wouldn’t mean much if you didn’t know that:

Washington then led No. 10-ranked Ohio State 7-3 at halftime and lost 33-14 in Game 3. It was tied with then-ranked No. 27 UCLA 10-10 at halftime and lost 44-31 in its 4th game.

Washington led then No. 1-ranked Southern Cal 17-14 at halftime and lost 27-24 in Game 5. They then led No. 12-ranked Arizona State 17-13 at halftime and lost 44-20 in Game 6.

You better believe Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson was more than sweating balls after watching redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker run for a 32-yard touchdown with 4:11 left in the first half, giving Washington its 17-13 lead.

Do Husky fans realize that if every one of those games ended at halftime, Washington’s record would be 5-0-1 rather than 2-4? Washington would have an undefeated record after beating Syracuse 42-12 in an away game and upsetting then-No. 22-ranked Boise State 24-10 in its first two games.

Please don’t be sophomoric (as in sometimes stupid) and remind me that a game lasts 60 minutes and only the final score counts. To do so would be to ignore what I mean. You could, in all fairness, argue that the Huskies have tripped over themselves coming out of the locker room to start the second half of their last 4 games.

Why this happened leaves coach Ty Willingham clueless. He is quoted in the Tacoma Newsstand (edited 10/14/07) saying, “This is obviously a difficult thing to tackle because I don’t have a solution.”

Willingham, a man of hitherto unimpeachable standards and integrity, is also honest. Less than 1% of all college football coaches would not publicly repeat Willingham’s admission.

One thing is certain: whatever Willingham and members of his coaching staff say or don’t say to the Husky players at halftime is not worth it and needs to be changed.

Don’t tell me that the same Husky players who could play over their heads with courage and enthusiasm in the first half become brain dead and unresponsive in the second half. I’d love to be a bee on Washington’s locker room wall at halftime and see the scathing comments, if any. As a certified Monday morning quarterback and coach, these would be the first words to come out of my mouth at halftime in the game against Arizona State:

“Let me be the first to congratulate you on a phenomenal first half. Arizona State made a few mistakes in the first half and so did we, but you’re leading the undefeated, No. 12-ranked team in the nation at halftime, 17-13.

“Some would say the Sun Devils have more talent in their squad than us, but we lead at halftime, 17-13.

“Others would say the Sun Devils have an unbeaten record and our record is 2-3, but we lead at halftime, 17-13.

“Others still would say the Sun Devils are ranked No. 12 in the country and since we’re not ranked in the Top 25, they’ll win this game, but we lead at halftime, 17-13.

“Now we’re going to quickly hand everyone a piece of paper and a pen, and by secret ballot, I want you to quickly write down which player you think is the leader of this team.”

Once the ballots were immediately collected and Jake Locker’s name appeared on almost every ballot, I would say this:

“Jake, you may be a freshman in a red shirt, but your teammates think you’re the leader of the Washington Husky football team.

“I want you, Jake, to get up right now and tell the coaching staff and your teammates why we can win the second half of this game, how we’re going to do it and what it’s going to take for the game. To do.”

As a head coach, I sat down, was quiet and listened. After Jake is done with everything he says, I’ll ask any other player who got a team leader vote to stand up and do the same.

Let the players convince themselves and believe that they can do in the second half what they did in the first half: outclass the opponent. Do that and Washington will upset his opponent.

Now, why is Washington the most statistically incredible team in the country?

1) The Huskies are ranked No. 41 in the Sagarin rankings.

2) Their current record is 2-4.

3) They are ranked #1 for playing – for the 4th straight week – the toughest schedule among the 242 teams in Division IA and 1-AA.

4) There is not another team among Sagarin’s top 40 rated teams with less than 4 wins.

5) The next highest rated Sagarin team with just 2 wins is #60 North Carolina at 2-5.

6) The Huskies, as Sagarin’s 41st-highest-rated team in the nation, edge out No. 42 Alabama (5-2), No. 44 Wisconsin (5-2 and ranked No. 5 in the AP poll there). just two weeks old), No. 46 Louisville (4-3), No. 48 Texas A&M (5-2), No. 51 Air Force (5-2) and No. 52 Indiana (5-2). Not too shabby, as the former Opera Man (Adam Sandler) would say on Saturday Night Live.

7) The highest rated team with the same 2-4 record as Washington is Stanford at No. 68. Stanford has played the 4th toughest schedule in the nation.

8) North Carolina, which is 2-5, is ranked No. 60. The Tar Heels played the 3rd toughest schedule in Week 7 in college football.

I know, now you’re wondering who played the 2nd toughest schedule. It’s 1-6 Notre Dame. I expect the Huskies to lose to Oregon (hopefully not by 53-7 like interstate rival Washington) and California. I predicted it two weeks ago, October 3rd.

I also predicted on October 3 that Washington would beat (in order) Arizona, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State and Hawaii, ending the year 7-6. Hang on, Husky fans, the best is yet to come.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

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