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Originally published September 9, 2013 at 7:54 PM | Page modified September 9, 2013 at 9:35 PM

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Huskies’ Bishop Sankey will have plenty of support in Chicago

Washington running back Bishop Sankey will have about 30 friends and family members at Soldier Field on Saturday when the Huskies play Illinois.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

Washington vs. Illinois, at Soldier Field, Chicago, 3 p.m., Big Ten Network

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The party Saturday to kick off Bishop Sankey’s 21st birthday will start early in Section 111 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Washington’s star running back will have about 30 supporters on hand when the No. 19 Huskies (1-0) take on Illinois (2-0) in a nonconference game, a day before Sankey’s birthday. Many of his family and friends will be making the trip from Ohio, where Sankey spent much of his youth.

Most will be decked out in his No. 25 UW jersey, and most will be watching him play in person in a Huskies uniform for the first time.

“We are all really excited,” said Sankey’s mother, Julie Becker, a respiratory therapist in Cleveland.

She’s flying into Chicago on Friday with her parents and her 10-year-old daughter, Eisley. “And he’s going to have a bunch of aunts, uncles, cousins there, too,” she said.

They’ll be sitting near the 30-yard line behind the UW bench, and they plan to arrive in their seats early to wave signs and cheer on their favorite running back. They’ll have plenty to celebrate if things continue to run smoothly for Sankey and the Huskies.

Sankey, a 203-pound junior, rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns in the Huskies’ season-opening 38-6 victory over Boise State on Aug. 31. In his past six games, Sankey has rushed for 934 yards and nine touchdowns.

“I’m excited to get the chance to play at Soldier Field — a lot of tradition there,” Sankey said. “I’m going to have a lot of family there, so I’m excited.”

On a prostyle field again

Washington will be back in an NFL stadium Saturday in Chicago, and after spending all of last home season playing in the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field. Coach Steve Sarkisian said the Huskies should be better prepared for some of the subtle changes from a college field.

The hash marks on an NFL field are much closer than on a college field (18 feet, 6 inches apart in the pros vs. 40 feet in college), and UW’s receivers, for example, line up based on distance to the hashes. At CenturyLink last year, UW painted its own small marks on the field for its games.

“We’ll find out Friday and Saturday if they’ve done that or not at Soldier Field,” Sarkisian said. “But I think we’ll be OK, because all of our veterans have been exposed to it already.”

This week will be the first of four games for the Huskies on a grass field this season. The Huskies don’t have a grass practice field, so they practiced at least twice at the Seahawks’ grass facility in Renton in the past month.

“The majority of us grew up playing on grass fields when we were kids, and not very good ones, so I think we’ll adapt fine once the game starts,” Sarkisian said. “It’s just another distraction that, if you let it be a distraction, it will be one. We’ve been on this notion that there are no distractions — we eliminate all distractions.”

Kickoff set for Idaho State

The Huskies’ game against Idaho State on Sept. 21 will kick off at noon at Husky Stadium for a broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks, UW announced Monday.

Game times are typically announced 12 days before the game, or the Monday the week before, based on the Pac-12’s television broadcasting contracts.

Start times for two of UW’s Pac-12 games were previously announced: the game at UCLA on Friday, Nov. 15 is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN2, and the Apple Cup will be played at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @a_jude.

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