For now, the Washington Huskies will celebrate, basking in their 45-17 victory over rival Washington State in Friday’s Apple Cup game, and basking, too, in their first Pac-12 North championship.
But when they wake up Saturday, they say they will not do so with any rooting interest in how the Pac-12 South shakes out.
The Huskies will play in the Pac-12 championship game next Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Their opponent will be either Colorado or USC. If the Buffaloes beat Utah on Saturday, they will win the Pac-12 South and advance to the title game. If CU loses to Utah, USC will claim the South title.
The Huskies’ only loss this season came against the Trojans, a 26-13 decision on Nov. 12 at Husky Stadium. They have not played Colorado. And they say they don’t care who they end up facing in Santa Clara.
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“It does not matter,” UW safety Budda Baker said. “We’re going to go celebrate today and get back and see who we play tomorrow.”
UW coach Chris Petersen feels the same way.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad the Dawgs are there,” Petersen said. “Whoever shows up, we’ll prepare and hopefully play our best game of the year.”
There are few hotter teams in the country right now than USC, which has won seven consecutive games since beginning the season with a 1-3 record. The Trojans were the only team to physically overpower the Huskies this season, controlling both lines of scrimmage.
Colorado (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) boasts one of the league’s best defenses, and racked up 603 yards of total offense — led by senior quarterback Sefo Liufau, a Tacoma native and former Bellarmine Prep star — in a 38-24 victory over Washington State last weekend. The Buffaloes have claimed blowout victories over Oregon State and Arizona, and got out to an early lead in a Sept. 17 game at No. 3 Michigan before losing, 45-28.
Colorado checked in at No. 9 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings. USC is ranked 12th. The Huskies, at No. 5, need a victory to improve their chances of jumping into the top four when the final CFP rankings are released Dec. 4.
So there is little time for the Huskies to reflect upon their accomplishments.
“I think the really good teams, the special teams, can finish,” Petersen said. “The hard part about that is, you’re playing better teams here as we finish. And so the next team we’ll play will be a really good and elite team.
“So it’s hard to finish, and then the one after that will be a really good team. We’ll figure all this out after we’re done playing, because we just feel like we’ve got some good football left.”