The Washington Huskies took a week off after beating Boise State 38-6 in their season opener. This Saturday it's time to strap it on again as the Dawgs travel to Chicago to take on Illinois at historic Soldier Field. Illinois is 2-0 on the young season having gotten past Southern Illinois 42-34 in their opener, and pasting a 45-17 whipping on Cincinnati last weekend.
Huskies' Head Coach Steve Sarkisian is pleased about his team's effort and development, but also about his team's chemistry and attitude. He recently had this to say to gohuskies.com:
""I like this group. They understand it. I’m laughing because they are so loose, they are so confident — yet they are so focused," They are a really fun group to coach, because they get it. I don’t feel like I have to pound it into them.”
The player that most needs to "get it", of course, is quarterback Keith Price. The senior signal caller was impressive against BSU, completing 23 of his 31 pass attempts for 324 yards and two scores against the Broncos. He threw one interception, finishing with an excellent 176.8 quarterback rating.
Bishop Sankey will be the primary running back for Washington, though expect Dwayne Washington and Deontae Cooper to get touches as well. Sankey gained 161 yards in the opener and tallied two scores. The Huskies racked up 592 yards of total offense in their easy win over the then ranked Broncos of Boise State.
The Fighting Illini struggled mightily in their opener against the Southern Illinois Salukis, managing only 49 yards on the ground in that game. Cincinnati proved to be less of a test, and Illinois rushed for 210 yards in that contest. Make no mistake, running the ball effectively is a must if Illinois is to find success this season. They have yet to accumulate 100 rushing yards for any individual runner two games into the season. That must change against Washington.
Behind center the Illini have QB Nathan Scheelhaase. The 6'3" 205 pound senior has completed over 70% of his throws in his first two outings. He has six TD's against just one pick. To say that the Illini spread the ball around would be an understatement as 12 different receivers have caught balls in the two games thus far.
Las Vegas lists Washington as a 9 1/2 point pick. The view from here is to take Washington and lay the lumber. Uneven early season results, a complete lack of consistent rushing the ball and the fact that the game, though in the State of Illinois, isn't on campus makes Washington a confident pick this week. Let's call it 34-13 for a final.
The game is scheduled to kick Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. PDT and is to be carried on the Big Ten Network (Locally Channels 404 and 623 with Comcast, Channel 610 with DirecTV). It can be heard locally on the Washington IMG Network, KJR-950 AM is the local flagship radio affiliate.