Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

October 16, 2018 at 8:33 pm.

Huskies seek bounce-back against Colorado

Washington coach Chris Petersen could understandably fall into a cycle of over-analyzing his team’s heartbreaking 30-27 overtime loss last week at Oregon.

“The first guys we second-guess or nitpick are ourselves as coaches,” Petersen said in his Monday press conference. “There’s no harder critic, every single game — even when it goes (well).”

Any number of sequences or individual plays could have reversed the outcome for Washington (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12), which returns to Husky Stadium on Saturday for the first time since Sept. 29. The play that stands out in a back-and-forth rivalry affair, however, is Washington winding down the clock to attempt a 37-yard field goal at the end of regulation.

“We really felt good about where we were,” said Petersen.

But the missed field goal changed the game’s complexion and the outlook for the Huskies heading into a cross-divisional matchup with Colorado (5-1, 2-1).

The Huskies endured other missteps in the loss, including allowing Oregon to convert on all three of its fourth-down attempts. The missed field goal was also the second trip deep into Ducks territory during the fourth quarter that produced no points, with a botched fourth-down play preceding the final possession.

Now, the game against Colorado takes on a different look.

Washington sits in a four-way tie for first place in the Pac-12 North in the loss column, with games still to come against two of the other four teams, Stanford and Washington State. Even if the Huskies win out, they will need at least one more Oregon loss to earn a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The story is similar for Colorado, which went into Week 7 as the last undefeated Pac-12 team. The Buffs offense sputtered in a 31-20 loss at USC, which took a half-game lead over Colorado at 3-1 in the Pac-12 South.

For Colorado, it wasn’t so much one play as a single quarter that changed the outlook for the second half of the season. USC scored all three of its offensive touchdowns in the second quarter of a game in which the Buffs otherwise dominated defensively.

Preceding losses raise the stakes somewhat in this rematch of the 2016 Pac-12 Championship Game. Another loss in conference does not eliminate either from divisional title contention, but certainly complicates their pursuit.