Even when other important aspects of the University of Washington football team aren't exactly, well ... "2+2=4" ... the mathematics of the team's season is.
Win three, become bowl eligible with six victories.
Lose one against UCLA, California or Washington State, the season will end with the Apple Cup on Dec. 4.
Here is how UW coach Steve Sarkisian addressed the three-wins-to-get-in issue Monday as his weekly press conference:
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"I'm not the kind of guy ... and hopefully you guys understand this about me by now - I'm not the kind of guy that's going to not talk about the giant elephant in the room. We'll address it with the team, but understand that it can't happen unless we win this first game, so we have to focus on this first game.
"If, and when we get to the third game at Washington State and we haven't lost, then we can talk about it even more. But the reality of it is - this is what has to happen if we want to achieve that - so let's focus on this first one. And if we can get over this first hurdle we can look to the second one ... and then the third one."
I'm asked frequently, by the Huskies faithful, by people in our office, even by my girlfriend (she wants to go on vacation ASAP) - will the Huskies do something they haven't done since 2002 by winning three consecutive Pacific-10 Conference games?
1, UCLA* The good for the UW: The Bruins are a mess in at quarterback. Coach Rick Neuheisel appears to have little or no faith in Kevin Prince. Richard Brehaut isn't much better, although he better fits into the team's "Pistol" attack because he's mobile. UCLA is averaging 120.8 passing yards per game - last in the conference by nearly 75 yards.* The bad for the UW: Two things do not seem to be good matchups for the Huskies - a team committed to the run (UCLA is at 194.4 ypg) and an offense with a good line (the Bruins have won). ... Motivation won't be an issue at all for the Bruins. One, Husky Stadium is Neuheisel's old stomping grounds. Two, UCLA is 4-5, and needs this win, too, to have a realistic chance at being bowl eligible.* Way we see it: Last home game. National television. Black jerseys - the Huskies should be as amped up as they've been all season. Plus, they don't want to finish with a losing record at home (2-4 if they lose).* TNT pick: Dawgs get No. 1.
2, CALIFORNIA* The good for the UW: Last year's game (42-12) was the Huskies' most complete effort, so remember that. ... The Bears have turned the reins of the offense over to backup Brock Mansion after Kevin Riley suffered a season-ending knee injury. Mansion was so-so in his first start against WSU. ... The game will be played over the Thanksgiving holiday. Who will be there to watch at Memorial Stadium, anyway? ... Before the Bears worry about this game, they'll likely take beatings by Oregon and Stanford (although this is the Bay Area rival, so you never really know).* The bad for the UW: As poorly as the Bears have played on the road, they've been dynamite at home - beating UC-Davis, Colorado, UCLA and Arizona State by a combined score of 189-34. ... Bad thing about Mansion starting is that talented tailback Shane Vereen (98.4 ypg, No. 4 in Pac-10) will likely get more work. ... The UW has lost in its past four trips to California. ... Bad matchup of Cal's superb defensive line against the UW's up-and-down offensive line. ... The Bears also remember last year's beatdown.* Way we see it: By popular vote, this seems to be the game fans are uncertain the UW can win.* TNT pick: Nov. 27 won't be a favorite date for UW fans.
3, WASHINGTON STATE* The good for the UW: Well, the Huskies are better, more talented and have done something in one-plus seasons that WSU hasn't - win a Pac-10 game. ... WSU's only real threat to the UW defense is true freshman receiver Marquis Wilson. ... The Huskies rightfully should, and will, be favored on the road for the first time in two seasons.* The bad for the UW: It's early December - it will be cold. It could snow. WSU wants that. ... The Cougars might be fighting for their coach's job. ... WSU will get two weeks to prepare for its final game. ... The last time the Huskies were road favorites was the 2008 Apple Cup. What happened that year?* Way we see it: Recent trends indiciate the UW has slightly downgraded, and the Cougars have slightly upgraded. That could chance obviously in the next few weeks.* TNT pick: So close, and another 5-7 mark.
** WEDNESDAY PRACTICE NOTES: Many regulars sat out much or all of the practice - all by coach Steve Sarkisian's design. Running back Chris Polk wasn't even in pads, and did nothing. Repetitions for the starting offensive line, and safety Nate Williams, linebackers Victor Aiyewa and Mason Foster, and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu were all scaled back. ... Running back Jesse Callier (shoulder) was wearing the red jersey, and did individual drillwork. He should be good to go when practice reconvenes Saturday. ... Sounds like defensive end Talia Crichton (knee) could be another week before rejoining the team fully. He has been limping around the field, and has not been a practice participant. ... Linebacker Cort Dennison again was not at the UW on Wednesday due to a death in the family. He will be back in Seattle on Thursday. ... The day's winner? The offense, which rallied behind Nick Montana, who threw touchdown passes to DiAndre Campbell and Cole Sager. Montana's 5-yard scoring strike gave the offense dibs on the "food rations," Sarkisian said.