Huskies prove they’re not elite — yet

SEATTLE — Any questions?

Any more foolishness about Washington cracking the top 25?

Is anyone still sticking with the “Bring on the Trojans” babble?

Are we over the “Jake for Heisman” tripe and let the kid develop at his own pace?

For this safe landing back to the planet Reality, we can thank the Ohio State Buckeyes, 33-14 victors over Washington Saturday before the third-largest crowd in Husky Stadium history.

“We played a darn good football team that was a top-10-caliber football team,” UW coach Tyrone Willingham said, before he pointed out where Washington fell short, after a Buckeye TD bomb and a fumbled kickoff return. “You’ve got to make a stand at that point. We can’t have back-to-back mistakes that allow them to expand the lead.”

How many of you were misled into thinking that Boise State of 2007 was the Boise State of 2006? And since Washington polished off the Broncos, it would do the same with the Buckeyes, right?


Got it straight now?

Washington is no more on par with Ohio State or any other top 10 team than they are with the Indianapolis Colts. The Huskies are Dennis Kucinich. They’re Switzerland. They’re the Seattle Mariners.

They’re a nice team and they’ll get better. They’re too young. They’re too inexperienced. They’ve not won in the past and have little idea how to win now.

The Huskies are not ready for the Big Time. They’re not able to compete for 60 minutes against an elite team in the country.

“I think we did all right in the beginning, but in the second half, we did not play our brand of football,” UW defensive end Greyson Gunheim said. “We made a lot of mistakes.”

Head to head against middling teams in the country, Washington will be very competitive. That in itself should supply some salve on Saturday’s open wound. It wasn’t long ago that Washington struggled mightily to compete on equal terms with anyone. Remember, it was just five games ago when the Huskies lost to (gulp!) Stanford.

Yes, they’ve improved. They’ve improved at a pace that should appease most right-thinking UW football fans — providing, of course, that any exist anymore.

The elite — the Ohio States, the Southern Cals — is a huge leap. It’s no tragedy to fall short to them.

You don’t turn the ball over four times, as the Huskies did Saturday, and expect to beat the elite.

You don’t run into the punter and give an elite team a free possession, as Washington did when Chris Stevens knocked A.J. Trapasso on his wallet.

You don’t drop four passes, as UW receivers did Saturday.

You don’t drop two no-brainer interceptions, as Husky defenders did.

You don’t give up 30 second-half points, as Washington did.

You have to play your best game in a national spotlight. The Huskies didn’t. They’re not ready.

“We had, potentially, four turnovers that we gave away,” Willingham said. “You can’t do that against a top-10 team. You just can’t do it.”

But that doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way.

Vonzell McDowell was toasted worse that Britney Spears’ career by Brian Robiskie, whose third-quarter 68-yard TD catch put the Buckeyes ahead for good, 10-7. McDowell is a true freshman. In two years, he doesn’t get beat on that play.

Curtis Shaw’s fumbled kickoff led to the Buckeyes’ second TD in 39 seconds. Shaw is a true freshman. That was his second kickoff return ever in college. Bet he won’t do that again.

Jake Locker completed less than half his passes and threw three picks. This was his third collegiate game. So far, he’s thrown four picks and two TD passes. He needs time.

Credit the Huskies for keeping the score down in the first half and taking a 7-3 lead on a Locker TD pass to Anthony Russo with three seconds left.

But credit Ohio State for not panicking in front of a hostile crowd and turning the game into a bad lounge act by the end of the third quarter.

That’s what elite teams do.

The Washington Huskies don’t.

Not yet, anyway.

Sports columnist John Sleeper: For Sleeper[`]s blog, go to “Dangling Participles” at

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