Huskies’ hopes of bowl bid take a hit with loss to ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. — Living on the edge has been the way of life for this year’s University of Washington football team, and on Saturday night the Huskies finally fell off.

Arizona State’s 50-yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining not only broke a tie and ruined UW’s night, but it also may well have killed the Huskies’ chances of breaking their draught of six straight years without a bowl game. The 24-17 loss, thanks to Danny Sullivan’s touchdown pass to a wide open Chris McGaha, put the Huskies at 3-4 overall, 2-2 in the Pac-10, and in need of a similar miracle when it comes to bowl possibilities.

“We still have the same confidence to try to get to a bowl game,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “We’ve just got to keep pushing.”

The Huskies need to win six games to get bowl eligible, and even that wouldn’t guarantee a postseason game. But to get to 6-6, UW would clearly have to pull an upset or two along the way. The Huskies’ remaining schedule includes home games against 13th-ranked Oregon and a talented Cal team, as well as road games at Oregon State and UCLA.

Saturday night’s loss might be the game that snapped the Huskies’ bowl bid.

“We can’t dwell on it,” running back Johri Fogerson said. “We just have to move forward.”

New-look defense

The only constant on the UW defense this season has been change. Saturday marked the seventh time in as many games that the Huskies featured a different starting lineup.

Cornerback Adam Long made his first career start, replacing Quinton Richardson to become the 19th different player to start on defense this season.

The most changes have come at safety, where the Huskies started another new duo on Saturday night. Senior Nate Williams returned from a concussion, while Victor Aiyewa replaced freshman Nate Fellner in the lineup. It was the third starting duo in as many weeks at the safety position.

Richardson, who started the first five games of the season at cornerback, saw action on less than a dozen defensive plays.

On offense, guard Nick Wood made his first start after Greg Christine suffered a season-ending leg injury last week.

At least it’s not flooding

The official temperature was 94 degrees at kickoff, with 15 percent humidity. The weather didn’t appear to have any visible affect on the game, and the Huskies were undoubtedly happy to be in the dry conditions rather than playing at Husky Stadium.

“We got here (Friday afternoon), and it slapped us in the face,” Fogerson said of the heat. “But we were used to it by (Saturday).”

Special teams struggle again

One week after special teams mistakes almost cost the Huskies in a game against Arizona, they reared their ugly head again in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game.

Punt returner Fogerson mishandled a punt, resulting in a turnover. A few minutes later, punt coverage man Adam Long was flagged for a penalty when he interfered with returner Kyle Williams after a fair catch. However, neither Arizona possession resulted in points.

Short yardage

Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara, who has been battling a neck stinger, watched the entire second half from the sideline without pads. … The UW’s Johnson saw his first action as a kickoff returner Saturday. He was deep alongside Polk but did not get any opportunities to carry the ball. … Missing a good chunk of practice last week didn’t appear to affect Aguilar. He scored his third touchdown in two games Saturday. … Among the players who didn’t travel for the Huskies were defensive end Kalani Aldrich (knee) and wide receiver Jordan Polk (knee). Polk got hurt at practice last week and was scheduled to undergo a minor surgical procedure that could keep him out for a week or two, coach Steve Sarkisian said. Reserve offensive lineman Nick Scott (shoulder) made the trip.

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