Maybe I had a better feeling about this night, all the way back in the preseason, than most of my colleagues. But nobody – NOBODY – could have seen this coming Saturday at Husky Stadium.
A. Blow. Out. Of. 19th-ranked California.
It was a 42-10 dismantling of the Golden Bears in front of 62,334 who braved the unseasonably bitter cold at Husky Stadium.
Easily, it was the UW's most complete effort of the season. Don't believe me, just ask the elated coach.
"It really felt like it," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "Defensively, we were dominant. Special teams … we were sound. And offensively, we had really nice balance, we were throwing the ball well, intermediate and down the field. It felt like a complete game in all three phases."
A gadget play – receiver Cody Bruns' 32-yard completion to Jermaine Kearse on the UW's second play from scrimmage – a quick touchdown strike by Jake Locker (also to Kearse) and the way seniors Donald Butler and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim carried their weight on the defensive side really made Saturday an extraordinary way to send the season.
Te'o-Nesheim had three sacks, which gives him 30 for his career. It's also a new UW record.
Butler had three tackles for losses, giving him 141/2 for the season, which is No. 2 in the Pacific-10 Conference.
"They're going to be playing on Sundays," UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. "Hope they come back and see us."
If the dots are connected on this defense, than Alameda Ta'amu took a cue Saturday night, especially with fellow defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck stinger) sidelined. He was a force, breaking up constant double-teams inside to give his teammates crease to pressure Cal's Kevin Riley.
"As a big guy, when you play with energy like he did tonight, you can be extremely disruptive," Sarkisian said. "He's shown flashes of that throughout the year, but tonight, that passion and that energy was there."
Holding Washington State to zero points, and now Cal to 10 – what a great sign heading into the offseason, one I'm sure will be met with rekindled optimism about where this program is headed.
• As expected, Locker was bombarded by questions about his future – leaving early for the NFL or returning for his senior season.
He was noticeably irritated by the line of inquiries, and repeated himself over and over that his future was still unsettled.
"I've always said at the end of the season, I'll come up with a plan, sit down with my family and coaches," Locker said. "I'll definitely take a few days to enjoy this (win over Cal)."
• Checked in with the big boss – UW athletic director Scott Woodward, who could not be more pleased with the way this season unfolded under a new direction.
I asked him when, during the season, he thought this season was on track to be successful.
"I thought after the first game (against Louisiana State), we had turned the corner," Woodward said.
"My expectations are just like coach's expectations – they are to win, continue to win and continue to win the right way."
• Is there any doubt now who leaves 2009 as the team's No. 1 receiver? Hint – he caught his eighth touchdown pass Saturday, which moves him into a tie for sixth for a single-season in UW history.
It's Kearse, the Lakes High product.
"I think I have taken the next step," Kearse said. "I worked hard in the offseason."
• UW running back Chris Polk gained 94 yards Saturday, and finished the season with 1,113 yards – the seventh-best single-season total in school history.
• Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck stinger) did not suit up. Everrette Thompson started in his place.
• The Huskies suffered two minor injuries – linebacker Cort Dennison (right shoulder stinger) and free safety Jason Wells (hamstring).
• They might have won the game, but they lost the ice-bath battle against Sarkisian, who dodged the celebratory dousing on the sideline in the final seconds. "It kind of grazed me," the UW coach said. "It was a little too cold tonight for an ice bath."
• The 15 outgoing UW seniors were announced before the game. All of them were named honorary game captains and met near midfield for the coin toss.
• A moment of silence was held prior to the national anthem in memory of the four slain Lakewood police officers.
• The Dec. 5 game Saturday at Husky Stadium was the latest date in a calendar year for a home game since 1932 when the UW played West Seattle Athletic Club.