Washington Football: What Effect Will Playing at Century Link Have on Huskies?
With Husky Stadium going through repairs, the Washington Huskies will be playing their 2012 home season at CenturyLink Field.
Although they are moving roughly four miles away from their home stadium, the Dawgs should not fret about the upcoming season. The transition to the home of the Seattle Seahawks will be a smooth one for UW, as it hopes to improve on its 7-6 record from last season.
The Huskies have gone 1-1 in their games played at CenturyLink Field, the most recent being a 38-21 victory over Washington State last season.
The relationship will be similar to how the Seattle Seahawks used Husky Stadium while the field formerly known as Qwest Field was being constructed.
As the Huskies look to improve on their 2011 record, the move to CenturyLink Field should not severely affect them.
Strength of Schedule
A big reason to not fret over time spent at CenturyLink is based off what opponents they will face.
With home games scheduled against San Diego State, Portland State, Oregon State and Utah, the Dawgs have a lot to look forward when glancing over the schedule.
They do face Stanford and USC at home as well, but those games will not be as easy.
Regardless, with four games scheduled against easier competition, UW will be able to boost its confidence.
Also, the Stanford game will be played after the bye week on ESPN. With an extra week of rest and a Stanford team without Andrew Luck, the Dawgs could find themselves in perfect position to throttle the Cardinal on national television.
The Huskies should pummel Portland State and San Diego State, as the latter will be without their starting quarterback and running back from a season ago. With Oregon State coming off a 3-9 season and Utah’s starting quarterback receiving two offseason surgeries, the Dawgs should be looking at grabbing four or five wins at CenturyLink.
With a favorable home schedule, there will be little drop-off between playing at CenturyLink compared to playing at Husky Stadium.
With CenturyLink remaining close to campus, there should be little fan drop-off between 2011 and 2012.
According to athletic director Scott Woodward, there is a 95 percent renewal rate for season tickets for the upcoming campaign.
With UW fans coming out in full force, it will be a smooth transition for the team as they adjust to life at CenturyLink. Woodward said he feared some fans may not want to make the trip, but he called the number of renewals “incredible."
With fans already ready to make the short trip to downtown, the Huskies will not surrender home-field advantage, which is a major part of college football. With opposing teams coming into Seattle, the Huskies should be able to attract more than 55,000 fans, seeing as last year’s attendance was 62,531 on average, according to ESPN.
If they can maintain the high attendance, teams will remain uncomfortable on the road, much like they would feel while playing at Husky Stadium.
For instance, the 2011 Apple Cup was played at CenturyLink. Granted, it was a rivalry game, but the attendance was listed at 64,559, according to ESPN. It should not be out of the question that the Dawgs would be able to mimic those numbers for every home game.
If Washington fans are willing to make the trip to CenturyLink, the Huskies will not feel out of their element while still in their hometown.
Back in the day, Husky Stadium was no fun for the opposition.
As ESPN’s Ted Miller wrote, “Up until 2002…the banks of Lake Washington were no fun for visitors. Bad football, though, has quieted the crowd.”
Husky Stadium features upper decks at a steep angle, which allows the sound to bellow out onto the field. However, Washington football has been seemingly dormant over the last few years.
However, with a move to CenturyLink and a potential move to the upper echelon of the Pac-12, Husky fans could be in for a rebirth of sorts—especially considering they are moving to a stadium that is notorious for being tough on the opposition.
The stadium ranks in the top 10 of home-field advantages according to NFL.com, so one would think the Huskies would be able to utilize it for the upcoming season.
If the Huskies are able to battle for the Pac-12 title next season behind a renewed defense and the emergence of Keith Price, fans will be energized and will flock to CenturyLink. And with fans packing the stadium, the opposition will be on edge when coming to Seattle, which will produce positive results for UW.
All in all, the transition to CenturyLink should be the least of the Huskies' worries in 2012.