UW Football | Huskies accept mission for finale
They would rather be the potential spoilee, and they remain confident that day is close. But for today, the Washington Huskies will accept...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Washington @ Hawaii,
8:30 p.m., ESPN2
HONOLULU — They would rather be the potential spoilee, and they remain confident that day is close.
But for today, the Washington Huskies will accept their role as cast and try to play it like Meryl Streep.
"Me, I love it," said receiver Marcel Reece of Washington's status against undefeated Hawaii, which needs a win to get to a Bowl Championship Series bowl game, likely the Sugar, for the first time in school history.
"We don't get a chance to go to a bowl game this year, which was our goal, but we do get to try and spoil something for a good team, and that's something that you can look forward to," Reece said. "It sounds bad. It sounds mean. But it's something we can do, and it's going to be a fun game, a real fun game, because they are going to play hard and we are going to play hard, also."
They had better, or the Huskies could get run out of Aloha Stadium by a Warriors team intent on not letting anyone ruin what looms as the biggest athletic celebration the school has held — a raucous sold-out crowd is expected.
Hawaii, which clinched its first outright Western Athletic Conference championship last week, has a chance to earn some unprecedented validation for a program that has a high national ranking (No. 10 in The Associated Press) and has won 21 of its past 22 games. A BCS bid would be just the second bowl on the mainland in school history (the 1992 Holiday Bowl is the other).
Lose to the Huskies, however, and the Warriors know most observers will scoff at their 11-0 record as largely a function of a weak schedule — UW is the first team from one of the six BCS conferences Hawaii will play this year.
"Our season won't be complete without beating UW," said Warriors backup linebacker Tyson Kafentzis, a native of Richland. "We're pretty greedy over here. We want that BCS bowl."
The oddsmakers figure Hawaii will get it, installing it as a 14-point favorite in a spread that has moved in its favor this week. Maybe that's because some figure UW might not have much left after a devastating 42-35 loss to Washington State last week. That game exposed holes in UW's secondary that Hawaii's Colt Brennan and his fleet of fast receivers will try to exploit.
Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense, which is second nationally with 450.9 passing yards per game, is predicated on getting the ball to receivers such as Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen and letting them run.
Washington coach Tyrone Willingham says the Huskies likely won't stop Hawaii's offense, but do have to try to minimize the damage.
"We've got to do a good job of keeping everyone in front of us," he said.
The Huskies also want to try to simply keep Hawaii's offense, which is averaging 47.2 points, off the field.
Washington coaches said they plan to do that by trying to chew up clock with the running game, confident they can do so against a Hawaii defense that doesn't quite compare to its offense.
"It's going to be a challenge," said offensive coordinator Tim Lappano. "But I think we are probably one of the better offenses they've faced, so hopefully we can move it on them."
The Apple Cup loss only added to the disappointment of a season that hasn't gone the way Willingham had hoped. But Huskies coaches and players insist they see only a positive in having another game to play.
"We've got a chance to go out and make something good happen for ourselves and go into the 2008 offseason on a great note," Lappano said. "It would be a huge win."
But maybe not quite as big as it would be for Hawaii.
"We had Washington circled [all season]," Brennan said. "We wanted them to have the best season possible because this was going to be our only chance to have a BCS opponent in the regular season. A victory over them would do a lot for us."
• A normally lengthy trip to Hawaii became a marathon traveling day for the Huskies, who were scheduled to leave for Honolulu at 11:45 Friday morning — but didn't take off until 6:15 p.m. The chartered airplane that was to carry the team experienced mechanical problems that delayed its arrival to Seattle.
Unlike most teams playing Saturday games in Hawaii, who travel on Thursday and Sunday, the Huskies chose to travel Friday and Monday, adding a day onto the end of their trip for the players' enjoyment.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies
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