Two weeks ago, the most common narrative you would have read concerning the Pac-12 was about the disastrous state of football in Arizona.
The team located in Tucson, the Arizona Wildcats, hosted UCLA, and were subsequently obliterated by 26. And the worst part? It wasn’t even that close. No, the Wildcats were never realistically in that one, and try as Arizona might to use an injury to starting quarterback Anu Solomon as an excuse, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The Wildcats were not beating UCLA that night.
About two hours down the road, Arizona State was suffering much the same fate, losing to USC – a loss that looks quite ignominious at this point in the season – by four touchdowns. So the writers justifiably took to their keyboards and wrote off the state of Arizona as any kind of football threat.
But where is that kind of writing, in the opposite direction, of course, when it comes to the state of Washington?
This weekend, Wazzou trumped Oregon in overtime, and sure, you may make the argument that this is not “national runners up Oregon of 2014” but it’s still Oregon, a perennial power, and it’s still Wazzou, a perennial doormat. This should be considered one of the biggest upsets of the college football season, right up there with Toledo over Arkansas, and there’s really not much hyperbole in that.
Meanwhile, a few days prior, Chris Petersen and Washington, in what was supposed to be a dreaded rebuilding year, trumped USC under the helm of former Husky coach Steve Sarkisian – at the Coliseum.
This was the first time Washington has beaten USC in SoCal since 2010. And this wasn’t supposed to be any normal USC team, either. This was supposed to be the one that restored the Trojans back to their former glory, reminiscent of the one that ESPN is about to drop a 30-for-30 about.
This USC had Heisman preseason candidate quarterback Cody Kessler and an armada of explosive weapons, namely in wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and “athlete” Adoree’ Jackson. If you, prior to the onset of the season, could name three players on Washington’s roster then you are either from Seattle or an ardent Pac-12 football fan. It’s not that Washington has a dearth of good players, it’s that not enough people genuinely care about Washington football to know who those good players are.
And Wazzou? The Cougars are mostly known to be a fun little gimmick to watch, an Air Raid attack that throws a lot and is exciting and scores a bunch of points but isn’t a legitimately good football team. And yet there they were, beating Oregon – at Autzen Stadium.
Utah paved the way for Wazzou, exposing the Ducks’ secondary to be the young and desultory bunch it is, which was effectively kryptonite for Oregon when the Cougs came to town. Because what does Washington State do more than the rest of the Pac-12?
And what can Oregon not defend?
It should have been the most expected of any unexpected result, though few, if any, would have had the stones to actually pick Washington State to beat Oregon, in Eugene.
Yet here we are, midway through the college football season, and the state of Washington has two marquee wins to its name and a combined 6-4 record, which is a better record than USC and Oregon.
It’s far too early to begin waxing poetic about the football in Washington, but it should be noted: The Evergreen State might not be the joke it once was.