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No Smoke And Mirrors – UW Huskies Are Legitimate Contenders This Season

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
In this photo made with a fisheye lens, Washington players run out of the tunnel through purple smoke effects at the start of a game against Stanford, Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, in Seattle.

The No. 5 Washington Huskies take on the Oregon Ducks Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Eugene. Washington is undefeated so far this season. But that’s not the case when it comes to its record against Oregon.

Sports commentator Art Thiel tells 88.5’s Kirsten Kendrick that the Huskies have a good chance to change that this year – especially after their performance last Friday night.

Expect The Blowout?

The Huskies beat Stanford 44-6 in what Thiel called "a startler."

"I don't think anybody foresaw it," he said.

"The Huskies winning, yeah, that was a reasonable expectation - home field and a very good team and  Stanford giving a tough go to the late stages.

"But this was over at 14-0. Stanford was bent and broken by the physical dominance of Washington."

Throwback To Don James Era

"This was a throwback to the Don James era, where tough physical play and winning line play was a huge deal," Thiel continued. "The Huskies won three Rose Bowls in the early 1990s with this kind of style.

"And they honored at the game the 1991 national championship team who epitomized that style and who were very pleased with the outcome Friday by dominating a good Stanford team."

'Not A Fluke'

Thiel said the Huskies 5-0 record is not a fluke.

"It's a culmination of three years of Chris Petersen who has installed a system that's very disciplined, very detail oriented — much like Don James. And that's what's really fostered this.

"He's obviously recruited well. He's gotten what he calls his OKG: our kinda guys. And it's really manifested in a team that's both dominant defensively and very clever offensively.

"It's really a remarkable renaissance for the program. They're fifth-ranked in the country. They're eight-point favorites over Oregon.

"The Stanford game was at Husky Stadium so it's going to be interesting to see if they can take what happened last Friday and dominate Saturday on the road in a very tough place to play."

No Chance For Letdown

Thiel said last week's rout over Stanford does not lessen the intensity of the Washington vs. Oregon rivalry.

"[The Ducks] have won 12 in a row. The Huskies haven't won since 2002 in Eugene. So, this has been a real sore point for the fan base here in Seattle," he said.

"And the Ducks fans have just loved this. It's endless mockery and mirth. So, there's a big payback quotient.

"The players get it. They know what a big deal this is. And beating the Ducks after a dozen-year humiliation will be a very sweet thing — if it happens.

"If it doesn't happen, boy, are there going to be some red faces and some angry taunts going on that Saturday night in Eugene!

"But I think the Huskies are going to pull this off. And I think they're really set up to be a national title contender," said Thiel.

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.