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Huskies want to finish strong

Coming off loss to Oregon, UW plays at USC Saturday

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
  • UW's Chris Polk (1) is stopped by the Oregon defense in Saturday's game.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    UW's Chris Polk (1) is stopped by the Oregon defense in Saturday's game.

SEATTLE -- When the emotions of a once-in-a-lifetime evening, and an all-too-familiar result, died down at Husky Stadium late Saturday night, the University of Washington football team was already rising from the ashes an hour after the final whistle.
A 34-17 loss to Oregon had stripped the final petal from the Huskies' rose while leaving the UW players in a state of mind that quarterback Keith Price described as "devastated." But shortly thereafter, the Huskies (6-3 overall, 4-2 in the Pacific-12 Conference) were able to look in the mirror, glance at the calendar and realize that all is not lost. Four games remain, including a bowl game that's already been secured, and things are already looking up in the wake of another double-digit loss to Oregon.
In each of the first three seasons under head coach Steve Sarkisian, the Huskies have rebounded from a humbling loss in early November to close out on a winning streak. Sarkisian's record at UW in games played after Nov. 7 is 6-1, and the Huskies would like nothing more than to get on a late-season roll again.
"I'd like to," Sarkisian said after Saturday night's game. "We pride ourselves on our ability to finish and how we play to close out the season."
If nothing else, the upcoming schedule is less daunting than it was during a recent string of two top-10 teams in a three-week span. It starts with a game against a USC program that the Huskies have beaten two years in a row. The Huskies follow that with games against struggling programs in Oregon State and Washington State, which have combined to go 3-9 in the conference this season.
"The key word in our program is finish," senior linebacker Cort Dennison said after Saturday's loss. "And these are the last games of our season, and all we've got to do is finish -- finish strong.
"We realize we've got a very good SC team we're playing, with a whole bunch of weapons, next week again. That's the beauty of our conference: you've got a great game week in and week out."
Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt talked specifically about the Trojans' wide receivers, quarterback Matt Barkley and the play-action passing game, but he summed up his task this week with a frank assessment.
"We'll be OK against these guys," said the former USC assistant, who is 2-0 against the Trojans. "I'd rather play USC than Oregon, quite honestly."
Late Saturday night, Sarkisian was already thinking about the next challenge.
"To go into the (Los Angeles) Coliseum and play SC is a tough task," he said. "So we're going to have to get up off the mat. We're disappointed. The kids are disappointed; they wanted to end (Saturday night's final game before the renovation of Husky Stadium) as good as we all did, the way we all hoped it could. And it didn't happen.
"So there's some disappointment, naturally. But that only gets to last for 24 hours, because starting Monday, we've got to get to the truth of what happened ... and then we've got to get back on the horse and start preparing for USC."
Story tags » Huskies Football

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