The voters have spoken, and they’re expecting to “bow down” in 2020 rather than “fight, fight, fight.”
The Pac-12 football season begins Saturday following a delay of more than two months caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The league is slated for an abbreviated seven-game schedule as it attempts to squeeze in a semblance of a full season. That means the state’s two major college football teams, the Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars, are about to return to the field.
Therefore, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers to weigh in on whether they thought the Huskies or the Cougars would finish with a better record this season.
POLL: Which Pac-12 football team from the State of Washington finishes with the better record this season? Full context, including a look at the two transitioning programs, here: https://t.co/aE7QnHbeNH
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) November 2, 2020
The results, when adding up the votes from the poll posted on the blog and the one posted on Twitter, were akin to the Apple Cup results from the past seven years: decidedly purple. More than three-quarters of the responders — 76% — picked the Huskies to be better than the Cougars this season, while just 24% stumped for WSU over UW.
On one hand, these results make sense. In addition to Washington owning the head-to-head series in recent years, the Huskies finished with a better record than the Cougars in nine of the past 11 seasons. That includes last year, when the Dawgs went 8-5, the Cougs went 6-7, and Washington dominated the Rose Bowl 31-13. Add in the geographical bias — we’re located a lot closer to Seattle than Pullman, though anecdotal evidence suggests there are plenty of Cougar backers in Snohomish County — and the results are predictable.
On the other hand, this is an considerable level of confidence in the Huskies’ superiority, considering how much uncertainty there is hovering over both programs. Both teams have new coaches, with Jimmy Lake being promoted from Washington’s defensive coordinator to head coach after Chris Petersen unexpectedly stepped down for personal reasons, while Nick Rolovich arrived in Pullman from Hawaii after Mike Leach left to take over at Mississippi State. Both teams are a mystery at quarterback, with freshman Jayden de Laura only being named WSU’s starter Wednesday, while Lake still has yet to declare his starter. Add in the unknown impact of the coronavirus, and I certainly wouldn’t feel three-to-one confidence in the Huskies finishing with a better record than the Cougars.
Speaking of the coronavirus’ impact, we’re already seeing that. Washington’s season has already taken a hit as the Huskies’ opener at California, scheduled for Saturday night, was canceled because Cal had a player test positive for COVID-19. With the Pac-12 scheduling seven games for seven weeks, it means that game will not be made up. That throws one Washington result out the window before there’s been a single snap.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) November 5, 2020
Washington State’s season is still set to begin as scheduled, with the Cougars playing at Oregon State on Saturday night. Washington will now also open its season against Oregon State, as the Huskies host the Beavers on Nov. 14. So, provided there are no more coronavirus-caused setbacks, we’ll get an early comparison on whether the voters were right to side with the Dawgs.