Most, but not all, signs point to a highly successful University of Washington football season.
In its post spring-practice rankings, ESPN pegged the Huskies as the nation's No. 15 football team, which sounds about right.
The Sporting News, however, couldn't find a spot for the UW in its recently compiled Top 25, deciding that someone such as the ever obtuse Coastal Carolina was much more deserving of national attention.
The Huskies supposedly have a pair of first-round NFL draft picks in offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland and cornerback Trent McDuffie, an elite tight end in Cade Otton, a top-5 offensive line nationally, a top-10 secondary in the country and perhaps the college game's most talented inside linebacker in Edefuan Ulofoshio, all predetermined by outside but not partisan experts.
Yet while all these intriguing pieces are there to be used, can coach Jimmy Lake pull it all together and do something memorable with this team?
Pro Football Focus, while lumping the Huskies among the top Pac-12 contenders, has crunched all of its numbers, looked at all the trends and suggested the UW is good for 8 wins this coming season. You can read PFF's Pac-12 size-up here.
That would be 8-4.
So are the Huskies overrated or underestimated?
While losing supreme edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui to a ruptured Achilles heel and subsequent surgery this past spring was a significant blow to the UW, Lake still has 17 returning starters, nearly a half-dozen portal transfers and countless up-and-coming players to count on.
In sizing up the Huskies, the main problem for them in drawing ultimate attention is they played just four games in the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season — the fewest number by a Power 5 team, a distinction shared by fellow Pac-12 comrades Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State.
People simply don't know what to expect from Lake's collection of talent and need more visual proof.
From someone who sat through all of the recent spring practices, and has seen the Huskies up close at their national championship best and during their Ty Willingham worst, here's another opinion on the prospects for the upcoming UW season:
2020 UW Schedule
Montana — The Huskies (1-0) win their season opener by five touchdowns and Sam Huard makes his college debut by leading a late scoring drive.
Michigan — With 100,000-plus fans on hand in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the only social distancing comes when Trent McDuffie intercepts one late and runs it in to seal a 28-16 victory for the UW (2-0).
Arkansas State — Jay'Veon Sunday gets a chance to play significant minutes in the fourth quarter and goes high-stepping for a late score as the Huskies (3-0) dismiss another overmatched opponent.
California — Two years ago, this was the lightning-interrupted game and a last-minute, early-morning loss. This time, the Huskies open conference play by sacking Chase Garbers five times and telling him to say hi to his brother, and they win decisively (4-0).
Oregon State — On a wet, dreary day in Corvallis, Richard Newton packs the ball 25 times for 175 yards and three scores as the UW grinds out an emphatic victory (5-0).
UCLA — Chip Kelly is forced to play Ethan Garbers at quarterback at Husky Stadium after his top two QBs get hurt in practice and early in the game and the UW wins the reunion tour 27-7 (6-0).
Arizona — On a Friday night, the Husky defense destroys Jedd Fisch's first Wildcat team in the desert to extend the winning streak (7-0), with safety Dom Hampton returning to his home state to intercept a pair of passes.
Stanford — David Shaw always makes the Huskies earn it, but they persevere with running back Cam Davis diving in from the 1 late in the game for a hard-earned 24-21 victory (8-0) in Palo Alto.
Oregon — In the most anticipated game of the season, the UW rises to the occasion and swats the Ducks 32-17 as Dylan Morris scores on a keeper and does a Browning-like pointing gesture while crossing the goal line (9-0).
Arizona State — Now you really didn't think the Huskies were going to go unbeaten, did you? That's happened just once in modern times. The Sun Devils pull out a 41-40 thriller in Seattle (9-1), ending any CFP ambitions.
Colorado — Rebounding nicely in Boulder, the Huskies get a couple of TD catches from Rome Odunze to clinch the North Division (10-1) and a chance to face Arizona State again in the league championship game.
Washington State — No one said this season was going to be easy. Max Borghi wears a T-shirt under his jersey that says "We don't lose to Huskies anymore" and the Cougars jitterbug gets loose for 155 yards and 2 TD runs in a 31-28 upset at Husky Stadium. End of seven-game Apple Cup losing streak.
So there you have it, a 10-2 regular season. Nothing to turn your nose up at.
We'll leave it to your imagination to how the ASU rematch and the bowl outing turn out.
OK, maybe the Huskies face the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, or the Chandeliers, or whatever they're called, in the Fiesta Bowl and trample them.
Where do you see the UW after a dozen games next fall?
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