Washington Still Seeking Bowl Berth
Nov. 10, 2006
SEATTLE (AP) - Keeping positive isn't easy for either Washingtonor Stanford right now.
And yet both have tangible goals when they meet on Saturday, butfor far different reasons.
Despite a five-game losing streak, the Huskies (4-6 overall, 2-5Pac-10) can becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2003with wins over the Cardinal and in next week's Apple Cup atWashington State.
Meanwhile, Stanford would just like any type of victory -- uglyor perfect. The Cardinal (0-9, 0-6) remain on track to complete thefirst 0-12 season in Pac-10 history. Only four Pac-10 teams haveever gone winless for a season.
With games remaining against surging Oregon State and atCalifornia, the Cardinal appear to have their best chance atvictory on Saturday.
'It's been a rough season for us,' Stanford defensive endPannel Egboh said. 'You can sit and pout about what's been goingon, or you can stay positive and try to build on what you did theprevious week and get better.'
Stanford would love any improvement from its offense, whichhasn't found the end zone since the fourth quarter of an Oct. 7loss at Notre Dame.
In its three games since, Stanford has been outscored 100-10,its only touchdown via an interception return in a 20-7 loss toArizona on Oct. 14. The Cardinal have scored more than 10 pointsonly once, when they blew a 20-point lead in a 35-34 loss to SanJose State.
The numbers show just how badly the Cardinal have beendominated. Stanford ranks last in the Pac-10 in scoring offense,scoring defense, rush offense, rush defense, pass offense, totaloffense and total defense. The team ranks among the bottom 10 inthe country in 12 major statistical categories.
'I don't think anyone can anticipate the number of injurieswe've had. That magnified our challenge,' Stanford coach WaltHarris said. 'Hopefully in the future they'll even themselves outand we won't have to deal with some of the things we've had to dealwith this year.'
With the lackluster numbers, the Cardinal could easily beoverlooked. But for the second straight week, Stanford plays a teamlooking for a bounce-back win.
Last week, it was USC rebounding from its first regular-seasonloss in 32 games, with a 42-0 shutout. This time, it's the Huskies,who looked overwhelmed for the first time this season in their34-14 loss to Oregon last Saturday. It was Washington's fifthstraight loss -- two of the defeats in overtime on consecutiveweeks.
'We fell off the last five games and we have to put ourselvesin position for a bowl bid,' Washington receiver Sonny Shackelfordsaid. 'The last five games have just not been good.'
It will be Washington coach Tyrone Willingham's first gameagainst his former school since he returned to the Pac-10. TheHuskies and Cardinal didn't play last season, Willingham's first atWashington. Willingham coached Stanford from 1995-2001.
'He did an outstanding job here. He did a lot of things a lotof coaches didn't have an opportunity to do here,' Harris said.
Willingham tried to re-ignite his players this week, opening upcompetition for the starting quarterback, running back and someoffensive line positions. Carl Bonnell and Johnny Durocher split QBsnaps in practice.
After missing the last two games with a sprained ankle, runningback Kenny James is expected to start ahead of Louis Rankin. James'return should help a running game that had a meager 13 yards on 21carries against Oregon.
Willingham knows the consecutive losses are wearing on hisplayers. After a 4-1 start, a bowl game seemed a certainty. Now,the Huskies need a final surge and some help to play in December.
'I hope there is an ill feeling about losing, whether it's one,two, three or seven. I hope that doesn't sit well with them,'Willingham said. 'But what I hope is it's not a burden we can'tdischarge and move forward and play the next game.'