The Huskies got very little respect for much of last season. Until they gave Alabama a fairly competitive game in the Peach Bowl in the CFB playoff semifinals.
The feeling this season is that Washington will get even more respect because they could be back in Atlanta for the national championship game in January--and could very well be facing Alabama again.
The key here for Washington starts with Coach Chris Petersen, who showed he knew how to build a program at Boise State and now has rebuilt Washington into a power in the Pac-12--and nationally. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
The other key is QB Jake Browning, who is the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. There are 13 starters returning from a team which went 12-2 last season and doesn't face USC during the regular season. The toughest road game will probably be at Stanford in November.
And USC is not on the schedule, which means that the winner of the Pac-12 title game could or should be in the Final 4.
Watch out for Browning and keep an eye on Vita Vea, a massive defensive tackle, who bypassed the NFL draft for another run at college football.
It all looks good for the Huskies, maybe even great.