Sept. 26, 2001
Washington is unbeaten and coming off its highest-scoring performance in nearly four years, but the offense has yet to get on track. Opening Pac-10 Conference play against California on Saturday may prove to be the perfect tonic.
Despite no touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Cody Pickett, the 13th-ranked Huskies (2-0) routed Idaho 53-3 last Saturday.
Washington had a spectacular day on defense and special teams, scoring touchdowns on a kickoff return, a blocked field goal and a punt return in posting its highest point total since a 58-28 win over Arizona on Oct. 18, 1997.
The Huskies have amassed 76 points - 43 on special teams - in two games despite ranking last in the Pac-10 in total offense at 351 yards per game. Pickett is completing 66.7 percent of his passes while averaging 178.5 yards per game, but has yet to throw for a touchdown.
"As long as we're winning, I don't care if I throw one all season," Pickett said.
Pickett might be able to end that drought against a Golden Bears defense which has surrendered 139 points and 488 yards per game in three lopsided losses.
Washington enters Saturday's contest riding a 10-game win streak, third-longest in the nation. Oklahoma owns the longest current streak at 16 games and Miami has won 11 in a row.
Huskies starting tight end Jerramy Stevens suffered a broken foot last Saturday that could sideline him until the final week of the season.
"Well, we are minus a weapon. I thought (backup) Joe Collier played really well, but he is not Jerramy Stevens in term of his ability downfield," Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said.
A matchup with California should provide Washington with a good way to begin the defense of its 2000 Pac-10 title. The Huskies have won the last 18 games in the series, a streak that began with a 50-31 win in 1977.
California (0-3, 0-1) has been hurt by its porous defense, but has shown the ability to move the ball on offense. The Bears are averaging 386.3 yards per game while ranking second in the conference in first downs with 66.
Cal had a forgettable performance last Saturday in a 51-20 loss to Washington State. They were torched for a school-record 513 passing yards and were penalized 12 times for 118 yards.
Tailback Joe Igber is one of the few Golden Bears that has experienced success against Washington, carrying 52 times for 298 yards in two games.
It could be a very long season for California, which plays its next four games against teams currently ranked in the Top 20.