The Huskies’ Athletic Director finally did the program some justice and stopped scheduling the likes of Top 15 ranked LSU for out of conference games. They start their season against lowly Rutgers and proceed to thrash them to the tune of 45-10, all ten points from the Scarlet Knights coming long after the starters and second string were pulled. Jake Browning throws 350 yards and four touchdowns. Miles Gaskin goes for 180 total offensive yards and three touchdowns of his own. The Huskies treat Idaho and Portland State with similar hospitality at home in their preparation for Arizona in Tucson.
The Huskies start their Pac-12 season off with a bit of a rough patch, but a perfect fourth quarter gives the final score of 31-17, Washington. Big, bad Stanford looms on the horizon as they come in and visit Washington in Seattle. These two teams have scary, hard-nosed defenses with pro offenses that contrast in style, but not efficiency. In a hard-fought victory, Washington comes away with a 17-13 result over one of the two longtime favorites of the Pac-12 North. They travel to Eugene to face the second of those two: Oregon, with their best chance to end the thirteen year losing streak that have haunted the Husky faithful. In a spectacular display, every unit clicks and Washington serves the Ducks a 52-17 loss that appears to be the nail in the coffin of the Chip Kelly era for Oregon. The Ducks fire Mark Helfrich on Monday and they go careening into a second dark age.
The Huskies continue to roll over Oregon State, Utah, Cal, USC, Arizona State, and Washington State. In the Pac-12 Championship, they beat UCLA 45-28. Having cemented their dominance over all the power programs in the conference, they sit pretty at #4 in the country behind Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State respectively. Unfortunately, the Nick Saban Machine is too much for this young Husky squad and they lose by 18 in the first round of the playoffs. Jake Browning finished third in the Heisman and is the clear cut favorite for the Heisman in 2017. Chris Peterson finishes off recruiting with a Top 10 class and the Huskies remain in the Top 5 for the next season, as well.
The Husky Hype Train is chugging away at an all-time high. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Athlon continuously change their preseason Top 25 rankings with Washington trending upward. Before the season, they are ranked Top 15 consensus while peaking at 12. Their first three games are supposed to be warm ups for the Pac-12 schedule, but things don’t go perfectly. The Huskies narrowly defeat Rutgers 34-31 with a last second field goal from 30 yards that narrowly clangs off the uprights. They dominate Idaho, but run into serious trouble against Portland State. While the Huskies end up winning in a triple overtime thriller, things do not look as good as they once did. Washington is desperately clinging onto a #19 ranking as they enter the conference scheduling.
Traveling to Arizona, they lose 35-27 on the road and drop to #25. When they come home, they are reminded that they are not yet the top dogs of the conference in a 42-28 loss against Stanford. The fanbase is now fearing what comes next: #14 Oregon and their rennaissance revival offense behind graduate transfer Dakota Prukop at quarterback. Prukop throws for four touchdowns and rushes for two as Oregon absolutely dismantles Washington 59-21 to prolong the nearly decade-and-a-half losing streak.
Washington picks up wins against Oregon State and Cal, but drop games to Utah, USC, and Arizona State. They need to pick up a win against #17 Washington State in order to become bowl eligible, but blizzard-like conditions in Pullman prevent this. Jake Browning throws four interceptions in the first half and ends up getting pulled. His backup throws two more and the Cougars go on to win 38-10. Oregon goes on to win the Pac-12 and has another National Championship appearance; Washington State wins the Rose Bowl. Amongst the frustrations, rumors are starting to gain traction that Jake Browning may have taken illegal benefits from a collection of boosters in his recruiting process. The NCAA, trying to make up for a solid decade of terrible punishment stories, opens up a probe immediately.