Best case-worst case: Washington

August, 24, 2012
8/24/12
7:30
PM ET
This is the seventh in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-12 teams.

Understand: These are not predictions. They are extreme scenarios and pieces of fiction. You can read last year's versions here.

We're going in reverse order of my post-spring power rankings (which might not be identical to my preseason power rankings).

You can see previous best case-worst case posts here.

Up next: Washington

Best case

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian walks into the postgame news conference after the Huskies 24-17 win over San Diego State.

"You guys were kind of vanilla today, eh?" a reporter asks.

"No, our entire playbook on both sides of the ball was open," Sarkisian says. "That's a good football team. And we will have our hands full next weekend."

Up next: A visit to No. 3 LSU.

"Dare a lot of peeshwanks bag daer in dat Pac-12, eh?" an LSU fan says from behind a pot of gumbo during the pregame tailgate. "But don't be boude'. D˘n matta. Ha' some gumbo."

"Er, thanks," says the Washington fan.

LSU takes the opening kickoff and drives to the Huskies 2-yard line. But the Washington defense stops the Tigers on two runs up the middle from Spencer Ware. On third-and-goal, Zach Mettenberger fakes a handoff and rolls to his right.

"He's got Russell Shepard open in the corner... Mettenberger tosses a dart... picked off... it's Desmond Trufant going the other way," the announcer says. "And he's gone... 100 yards for a Washington touchdown."

Washington wins 24-20. The Huskies new look defense sacks Metteberger four times and intercepts him twice. Keith Price completes 20 of 24 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

"Choooh! Dat game gave meh frees˘ns!" the Husky fans says to the LSU fan after the game. "Ga lee, pod nah! I got an ahnvee for some more gumbo!"

Says the LSU fan, "We're out. Leave me alone. I'm trying to call my therapist. This is not a good time for me."

"They kept us off balance," LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery says. "It was weird. They did a lot of stuff on offense. You know... stuff. We never see all that... stuff. And that Price guy is really good. It's nice to not have to play complicated offenses led by polished quarterbacks in our league. Wait... I'm not allowed to say that, am I?"

The Huskies whip Portland State but lose 28-24 to Stanford, the clock hitting zero with the Huskies on the Cardinal 10-yard line.

"I'm never happy with losing; we had plenty of opportunities to win," Sarkisian says. "But Stanford has physically dominated us the past couple of years. That didn't happen tonight."

Up next: A visit to Oregon. The Ducks have beaten Washington eight consecutive times by at least 17 points.

Oregon leads 24-0 at halftime. It's not easy wearing purple in the Autzen Stadium stands.

"You probably can stick a fork in this one," the announcer says. "It would take a miracle for the Huskies to even make a game of it. The question might be whether Chip Kelly keeps his starters in and tries to run the score up."

The Pac-12 blog is spinning with comments from gloating Oregon fans.

marinersblue96: Talk now, but we're going to come back and win this game. Guarantee it.

On the second play of the third quarter, Ducks QB Marcus Mariota drops back to pass. He's drilled by Josh Shirley and fumbles. 330-pound tackle Danny Shelton picks up the loose ball and rumbles into the end zone.

There's the slightest of murmurs in the crowd.

That becomes the first seven of 40 unanswered points from the Huskies, who roll to 40-24 victory in front of a shocked crowd.

marinersblue96: Hey, guys, went to Vegas on Sunday. Let's just say I'm buying dinner!

The Huskies, at 4-1, rise to No. 7 in the national polls. Up next: No. 2 USC.

Kevin Gemmell: It's a showdown of Heisman Trophy candidates with major national implications.

Ted Miller: How can you be so trivial? Oregon fans are blaming me for the loss to Washington in the comment section [sniffle]. Why must they be so mean!

USC comes from behind in the fourth quarter to slip Washington 33-30. Barkley and Price both throw three touchdown passes, but Barkley's 20-yard toss to Robert Woods with 33 seconds left in the game is the difference.

The Huskies roll off five consecutive wins. At 9-2, they are ranked seventh in the BCS standings. Price has passed for 3,190 yards with 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He's also rushed for six TDs.

Up next: The Apple Cup against No. 21 Washington State.

"I think it's great what Mike Leach has done in Pullman," Steve Sarkisian says. "I think everyone on both sides of this state can agree that it's been too long since the Apple Cup was relevant nationally. Huskies always want to beat the Cougars, but it's better when both teams are ranked and are going to bowl games."

Washington pulls away in the second half to win 40-28. Most important: The decisive win ensures the Huskies will finish ahead of Oregon and Stanford in the BCS standings, which becomes the North Division tiebreaker. The Huskies will face unbeaten and top-ranked USC for the Pac-12 title in the LA Coliseum.

Sarkisian gathers his players in the pregame locker room, the Coliseum throbbing above them.

"We've come a long way guys, from 2009, from last year," Sarkisian says. "We've built something together. You're the group, five classes, who rebuilt Washington football. We take another step tonight. We're going to do something special here in front of all these fans who are already thinking about a trip to South Florida. It's simple. We win this game, we go to the Rose Bowl. What's it going to take? Everything you've got on every play. Everything you've got and more because when you add us all together we become more, our individual selves become more. Play hard. Play for the guy beside you. Finish every play. Now, let's go break those guys hearts."

With 2:13 left, Washington takes over on its 44, down 38-33. The Huskies drive deep into USC territory, but face a fourth-and-5 at the Trojans' 8-yard line with 26 seconds left. Price drops back to pass, but is pressured in the pocket. He dashes to his right.

"He's going for the corner," the announcer says. "He's got it! Keith Price scores!"

The Huskies convert a 2-point conversion and win 41-38.

Price wins the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first Husky to do so.

Washington beats Michigan in the Rose Bowl and finishes 12-2 and ranked third.

Price announces he will return for his senior year.

Kevin Gemmell: Preseason No. 1?

Ted Miller: Yup.

Oregon is hit with a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 15 scholarships by the NCAA due to its use of street agent Willie Lyles.

The Huskies recruiting class is ranked fifth in the nation.

Renovated Husky Stadium is named the Eighth Wonder of the World. Architectural Digest calls it "The most extraordinary construction project since the pyramids."

Global warming causes Seattle weather to closely resemble that of San Diego, though the skiing continues to be righteous just north of the city.

Worst case

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian walks into the postgame news conference after the Huskies 24-17 win over San Diego State.

"You guys were kind of vanilla today, eh?" a reporter asks.

"Yep, we didn't want LSU to see all of our schemes," Sarkisian says.

Schemes-smemes, things get ugly quickly in Baton Rouge, and Washington is never competitive in a 41-10 loss. The Huskies offensive line is outmatched by the Tigers defensive front, and the Huskies defense gets pushed around.

"That's a great football team," Sarkisian says. "We've got to learn from this and get better because our schedule doesn't get any easier."

The Huskies whip Portland State 44-17. They have a bye week before Stanford comes to town, but the Cardinal owns the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in a 33-20 victory.

No. 3 Oregon blasts Washington 50-17. It's the Huskies ninth consecutive loss to the Ducks by at least 17 points.

A debate ensues on Addicted to Quack over whether it's actually time to feel sorry for Washington and to no longer hate the Huskies. The motion is rejected. "You can hate something powerful, yes, and that might be your biggest hate," one Ducks fans opines. "But I hate the smell of garbage. I hate when birds poo on my windshield. The Huskies have become something we step in every year and go, 'Yuck! Look at this smelly mess on the bottom of my shoe. Anyone got a stick so I can scrape it off before I go to another BCS bowl game?'"

No. 2 USC bludgeons Washington 52-19.

"We've played three top five teams and No. 15 Stanford," Sarkisian says. "It hasn't gone the way we wanted but now we get to see who we are the rest of the way. I still have faith in this team."

The Huskies rally to beat Arizona and Oregon State but then fall to California and Utah in consecutive home games. After a win at Colorado, they head to the Apple Cup in Pullman needing a win to become bowl eligible against the 15th-ranked Cougars.

Alas, it's not to be. Too much Mike Leach and Jeff Tuel. The Cougars pass for 410 yards in a 44-28 win. The Huskies finish 5-7.

Washington State beats Texas in the Holiday Bowl and finishes 10-3 and ranked 11th. Oregon beats Alabama for the national championship. Leach and Chip Kelly share Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors.

Headline in the Seattle Times: "Sarkisian on the hotseat with Huskies regressing?"

Leach hires away Huskies assistant and ace recruiter Tosh Lupoi, who immediately flips four players committed to Washington.

Sarkisian dials up athletic director Scott Woodward.

"Hey, how's it going? Good," Sarkisian says. "I'm standing out by Hec Ed... Yeah, in the rain. I have a question. Is our renovated stadium supposed to be under water?"

Ted Miller | email

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