Season-salvaging game for Washington, Arizona?

SEATTLE — A struggling football team will walk onto the Husky Stadium turf this afternoon, desperate for a win.

It will be a team that feels like it has underperformed this season, a team that sees this game as chance to turn things around. A team that feels it’s better than its record, a team that feels like a few plays here and there could have led to many more wins. A team with a coach who has been on — or at least in the vicinity of — the hot seat in recent weeks.

Now, just which team are we talking about? How about both of them.

There are many similarities between Washington (2-5) and Arizona (2-6), who will play what both see as a potential season-salvaging game at noon today. Both came into the season thinking about bowl games, now, both are struggling near or at the bottom of the conference.

Think of it as the Desperation Bowl. It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, but it will have to do on this October afternoon.

“They’re pretty much in the same position we’re in, they’re looking for a win,” Huskies tailback Louis Rankin said. “Whenever you’ve got two teams looking for a win like that, it’s going to be a grind out there.”

After each loss in their five- game losing streak, the Huskies have continually said that they are still confident, that they’re this close to turning it around. Apparently folks in Tucson feel the same way.

“We definitely feel like we’re close,” Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama said. “We never thought that we would be in the position where we are right now, but that’s just the way that the cards were dealt. When you talk to the guys on the team and see the attitude and how people bounce back, you can tell that we’re right there on the verge of turning this around.”

Arizona finished last season winning three of four games to finish 6-6. They brought back most of a defense that developed into one of the conference’s best, and brought in a new spread offense that was going to make their point-production go up. Yet here the Wildcats sit, 2-6, needing four straight wins just to match last year’s record.

“We’re playing close but just coming up short in the grand scheme of things, and that’s disappointing,” said Arizona coach Mike Stoops, though his words could have just as easily come from Tyrone Willingham. “We had a lot higher expectations than where we’re sitting right now, but our team continues to play hard and play relatively well at times. We just have to make a few more plays in these games. They’re all competitive and it gets down to a few plays.”

Meanwhile, the Huskies came into the season full of hope, with a brand new quarterback and enough swagger to talk conference title and BCS contention. Yet here the Huskies sit, 2-5, needing to win five of six to get to a bowl game.

“This game, without a doubt, looks like they’re in a similar spot that we are in,” UW defensive tackle Jordan Reffett said. “They have had some unfortunate luck this year. They’re a good football team, and they’re in the same spot we are, and it’s going to come down to who wants it more.”

So if the team that wants it more, the team that’s more desperate is going to come out ahead, who might that be today?

They don’t still have ties in college football do they?

Contact Herald Writer John Boyle at jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more on University of Washington sports, check out the Huskies blog at heraldnet.com /huskiesblog

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