SEATTLE – At first the goal for Steve Sarkisian was getting Washington back to respectability.
Then came a bowl game. And another. Now in his fourth season, the Huskies have made incremental progress under Sarkisian with new benchmarks reached each season.
Another milestone can be reached tonight when the Huskies (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) play their final home game of the season against Utah.
A win would make UW bowl-eligible for the third straight season, the first time the Huskies have booked a postseason trip in three consecutive years since a run of eight straight bowl trips was snapped in 2003.
Thanks to upsets of Oregon State and Stanford at home – both ranked in the AP Top 10 at the time – the Huskies have enough wiggle room that they need just one win in their final three games to become bowl-eligible.
But to continue that incremental progress and potentially better its record from a year ago, Washington needs to win out, a task that seems entirely plausible with all three remaining opponents having losing records. First, though, comes trying to close out a stellar home schedule in Washington’s temporary home of CenturyLink Field while Husky Stadium is being remodeled.
“We’ve played well at home, we have one loss that I wish we could have the last quarter-and-a-half back of that game because I think it could have been a different outcome as well,” Sarkisian said. “But we have played well at home, especially defensively, and we are looking forward to another really good effort from our guys.”
Washington got an extra day of rest this week after beating California on Nov. 2, snapping a six-game road losing streak that dated back to the Huskies’ 31-14 win at Utah on Oct. 1, 2011.
For one week, the Huskies solved their problems playing on the road. Now it’s Utah’s turn to see if it can.
Utah (4-5, 2-4) is coming off consecutive blowout wins at home, scoring 49 points each in wins over California and Washington State.
But the lingering issue with the Utes is their struggles on the road. It started in Week 2 with a loss at state rival Utah State and has not gotten any better. The Utes were blown out at Arizona State before dropping close losses at UCLA and Oregon State.