Washington Huskies season preview

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
10:30
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Previewing the 2014 season for the Washington Huskies.

2013 record: 9-4, 5-4 Pac-12; beat BYU 31-16 in Fight Hunger Bowl.

Final grade for 2013: B. Steve Sarkisian took over a team that went 0-12 in 2008, and it won nine games the season he left. That rates as a strong turnaround. On the downside, the 5-4 record in Pac-12 play matched only the previous three seasons, although only Oregon, Stanford, USC and Washington can claim four consecutive winning conference records.

Key returnees: LT Micah Hatchie, WR Jaydon Mickens, LB Shaq Thompson, DE Hau'oli Kikaha, DT Danny Shelton, CB Marcus Peters.

[+] EnlargeShaq Thompson
Jesse Beals/Icon SMIWashington's Shaq Thompson scored six touchdowns this season -- four on defense and two on offense -- and was the first-team all-purpose player.
Key losses: RB Bishop Sankey, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, QB Keith Price, S Sean Parker.

Projected winning percentage (ESPN.com Stats & Information): 0.607

Chances to win the conference (ESPN.com Stats & Information): 0.7 percent

Instant impact newcomers: S Budda Baker, CB Naijiel Hale, DL Will Dissly.

Most important game: Versus Stanford on Sept. 27. Talk about a big Pac-12 North opener for both teams, as well as a great introduction to the conference for Chris Petersen. The Huskies should be 4-0 at this point and ranked at least near the top 15. If the Cardinal is also unbeaten -- they play USC on Sept. 6 -- this could be a game of national importance. At the very least, the Huskies could announce their candidacy in the North Division with a win.

Biggest question mark: While most eyes are on quarterback and running back, the Huskies' secondary is going to be young around Peters, a top NFL prospect. A questionable secondary is worrisome in a conference that is deep at QB and receiver.

Best case scenario: 11-2

Worst case scenario: 6-7.

Over-under win total (Bovada): 9

Upset special: Nov. 15 at Arizona. The Huskies could be cruising along, feeling all nationally ranked and everything when they make a trip to Tucson. Ask Oregon how that can be a trap. Further, the Wildcats have so much depth at receiver, they could exploit a young secondary, even 11 games into the season.

They said it: "Loved the place I was at without question. Could have stayed there a long time and been happy. But I felt it had to do with growing and stretching myself a little bit, and the opportunity at Washington, being the special place that I thought it was. But it's really hard to kind of tell you why. It's kind of a gut feeling." -- Chris Petersen on why he finally left Boise State for Washington.

Ted Miller | email

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PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12