SEATTLE – For 17 University of Washington football players, this Senior Night will be like no other.
It’s not just because they’ll be playing for the final time at Husky Stadium, but also because it’s a rare November home game that actually has postseason implications – something this year’s class has never experienced.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes for us to win,” senior linebacker Victor Aiyewa said. “I’m going to put my body on the line. I’m not really worried about Senior Night or whatever. We’ve got bigger goals at hand. So I’m going to do whatever it takes to win, and the rest of my teammates feel the same way about it.”
When Aiyewa, Jake Locker, Mason Foster and the rest of the 2010 senior class take the field at Husky Stadium tonight, it will mark the first of what could be three must-win games for UW to become bowl eligible.
“It’s a football game that we need to win to keep our season alive, and have the opportunity to keep going after our 12th game,” said Locker, who was cleared to play Tuesday after missing the Huskies’ last game with a cracked rib. “For us, we just need to approach it that way, prepare for it that way, come out and have fun and play the game of football.”
This year’s class has had some fun over the years, but the wins have been hard to come by. Since Locker took the field for his first start as a redshirt freshman in 2007, the Huskies have lost 34 of 46 games. A loss tonight would guarantee the class of finishing worse than .500 every year while extending the program’s streak of non-bowl seasons to eight years and counting.
“For these guys, what they signed up for four, five years ago is different than what they are doing now,” said coach Steve Sarkisian, who is in his second season at UW. “… By no means has their career been easy, and, in a sense, it makes me respect them almost maybe more than some other senior classes that I’ve been around because of what they have been through.
“For me, I just would like to see them be able to ride off into the sunset the way they hoped they would when they arrived on this campus.”
Before anyone can take any proverbial rides into the sunset, the Huskies (3-6, 2-4 Pac-10) need to find a way to end a three-game slide that has seen opponents throttle UW to the tune of 138-30. Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA Bruins (4-5, 2-4) are the first non-ranked team the Huskies have faced since Oct. 9 – and only the second since beating Syracuse in the home opener on Sept. 11.
If the Huskies are going to make a three-game run, tonight’s opponent is a manageable one with which to start.
“We’ve got to take them one game at a time. We can’t win all three of them at once,” said guard Gregory Christine, one of three seniors expected to start on UW’s offensive line tonight.