As we sit in May, with Memorial Day just a couple of weeks away, the thoughts of Husky football fans drift closer to Labor Day—and the return of Washington Football.
Washington has never shied away from tough scheduling, and this year brings them an arduous start to the year.
The Husky schedule of BYU, Syracuse and Nebraska starkly contrasts against some of their peers in the Pac-10 (Citadel, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State).
Only Oregon's slate of Tennessee and Arizona State, or possibly Oregon State's draw of Boise State could compare. The Dawgs have one of the toughest — if not the toughest — September schedule in the conference.
September 4: vs Brigham Young
The Huskies open the year on the road in Provo against the Brigham Young Cougars, who finished last year at No. 12.
The Cougars are coming off an 11-2 season, having gone 3-1 against Top 25 teams, including a bowl win over Oregon State.
BYU looks to return another strong team— although they've lost their leading rusher, running back Harvey Unga due to a violation of BYU's honor code, from which he's trying to get reinstated.
The Huskies' offense has enough weapons to run and shoot with the Cougars, however, it will be their defense that will win or lose this game.
BYU averaged over 30 points a game, leveraging quarterback Max Hall's nearly 300 passing yards per game average. Replacing Hall will be one of three contenders—Nelson, Lark or Heaps.
Nelson has one year in the BYU program, but the other two QBs are brand new to the Cougar system. If the Huskies can pressure the new QB into some mistakes, or even just slow him down, they have a good chance. Advantage: Washington
September 11: vs. Syracuse
Doug Marrone and company had a difficult 4-8 first year in upstate New York.
The Orange had two big victories over Rutgers and Northwestern, but beyond that, it was a difficult year.
Their second year coach is looking to get a quality victory on their schedule.
The Huskies will either be coming off a great victory or a tough loss, and in either case will have Syracuse in their sights.
Syracuse runs a more balanced attack than BYU does, but they are not nearly as powerful. The Husky offense should be able to find some openings, and the defense will challenge the Syracuse offense to prove themselves. Advantage: Washington
September 18: vs Nebraska
The Nebraska Cornhuskers come rolling into Husky Stadium after a 9-3 record last season, including nearly knocking off No. 2 Texas, as well as crushing Arizona in their bowl game.
Coach Bo Pelini has the Huskers back to playing hard-nosed blackshirt defense, and even with the loss of No. 2 NFL Overall Draft Pick Ndamukong Suh, they'll still be a challenging foe for head coach Steve Sarkisian's offensive playbook.
For Washington to outlast Nebraska, they'll have to find some offensive wrinkles to take advantage of the Nebraska defense.
The 'Huskers' defense has done very well in the Big 12, although many of them run spread offenses. Given that the Huskies run a more traditional pro-style offense, play selection to get Nebraska off of their high-pressure game plan will be key. Advantage: Push
As you can see, Washington has a formidable September schedule, with Syracuse sandwiched by two tough teams.
BYU wants to get back into the Top 25, and Nebraska is in just about every preseason Top 25 in the blogosphere.
After these three games, the Huskies will go into their Pac-10 schedule. A 2-1 or even 3-0 record in these first games would go a long way toward proving the Huskies are indeed back!