Happy Friday. Welcome to the mailbag.
To the questions!
Craig from Huskyville writes: We in Huskyville are in a funny situation. Let me explain. Our esteemed and once dominant football team has been getting a lot of positive PR heading into this season. We're even showing up in the top 20 of more than one preseason poll -- amazing for a team that hasn't won more than five conference games in who knows how long. Which leads me to ask -- for myself and any other hopeful, yet paranoid, fans -- is there such a thing as a preseason hype jinx? Thanks and keep up the good work. That is, unless you're jinxing our team.
Ted Miller: Yes, there is a Hype Jinx. It's real.
In 2014, it was South Carolina falling from No. 9 to 7-6, while Florida tumbled all the way from 10th to 4-8 in 2013. Lest you think we are just noting how often SEC teams are overhyped, USC in 2012 is the best example of all: No. 1 in the preseason, a 7-6 dumpster fire at season's end.
The Hype Jinx feasts mostly on hope, but my monitoring of its process through the years leads me to believe that it's particularly fond of hope layered over with a whipped frosting of hubris.
So minimize the smack talk. When a Coug engages you, go with, "Man, I hope we both get to the Apple Cup undefeated. I root for you guys when you're not playing the Huskies." For one, such a statement is imbued with a lovely passive aggressiveness that will infuriate rather than placate, but the Hype Jinx is a bit of a dullard along those lines.
Oregon fans? You'd be best to play it straight humble right now. They know they've never won a national title, so it's not really worth bringing up in the face of 12 years of domination.
To consider your question more soberly, Washington should be good. There isn't a glaring area of weakness. Of course, we'll have a good idea where things will be going after back-to-back games with Stanford and at Oregon on Sept. 30 and Oct. 8.
Daniel writes: Hey Ted, there were three teams from the Pac-12 North ranked in Mark Schlabach's most recent "Way Too Early" Top 25 (Stanford, Washington, and Oregon), and you could even make the case that Washington State should have been ranked. I know it's barely May, but what do you think those four teams' records will be against each other this coming season?
Ted Miller: Knowing the Pac-12, everyone will beat up everyone and it will become a tangled mess where writers are forced to look up arcane tiebreaking procedures.
I don't see any of the four going unbeaten against the other three.
Always good to start with the home and road splits. Washington and Stanford play two of the three games on the road. Oregon and Washington State play two of three at home. That is a huge advantage.
I also think Stanford's schedule is ridiculous: Kansas State, USC, at UCLA, at Washington, Washington State, at Notre Dame all in a row to start the season. That just gets the Cardinal to mid-October.
Meanwhile, like Stanford, Oregon has huge questions, leading with quarterback, which the Huskies and Cougars do not.
My inclination is to predict the winner of the Apple Cup is going to win the North Division. But I also have told myself, "Quit picking against Stanford. It never works."
So I continue, despite significant questions, to view the Cardinal as most likely to have a 2-1 record versus the other North contenders.
Ted Miller: Yes.