Washington Huskies Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
In the last few years Chris Petersen has confirmed what most already suspected when he was at Boise State - that he is one of a small handful of the best coaches in the country. The difference between good coaches and great ones is that great coaches plug in new players when stars leave and keep shining, while good coaches rise and fall with their talent levels. Petersen has seen significant changes every year - especially on defense - and has been consistently strong. But now it is time to shift it to the next level. Petersen has played in only one Pac-12 Championship Game - a massacre of Colorado two seasons back. Stanford has played in four of the last six out of the same division. That's not good enough for the kind of program that Petersen is building, and the opportunity to get back there again is decidedly here for the Huskies this year.
2017 in a Nutshell
The team played stellar defense last year and had a clear path to a second straight playoff berth, but they couldn't get out of their own way. After half a season they were unbeaten and ranked fifth nationally, but they had played a shockingly weak schedule so they had plenty left to prove. And they didn't prove it, losing a very regrettable game at Arizona State when their offense deserted them. With their weak nonconference schedule and a down year for the Pac-12, that was the end of their playoff aspirations right there. They bounced back to beat Oregon and UCLA but then lost at Stanford in their worst defensive game of the regular season. They again bounced back, beating Utah and then winning the Apple Cup in a runaway. But they were very disappointing in the Fiesta Bowl, losing to Penn State by only a touchdown but in an effort that was flattered by the score. The whole season felt like a series of missed opportunities.
Key Additions and Departures
At the top the team is set at QB. Jake Browning is back for his fourth and final year as starter, and Jacob Eason will redshirt this year after transferring from Georgia. Depth isn't of the same caliber, but Petersen hopes it won't be relevant. In one of the bigger surprises of the offseason, Myles Gaskin skipped the draft to come back for a fourth year at running back. He's legit, and the talent behind him is solid. Last year the receivers were a disappointment, and the top option, Dante Pettis, was drafted. Injuries were much more of a factor last year than normal, though, and there are also a couple of freshmen who should be ready to play out of the gate. It should be better here - in part because it couldn't be a ton worse. Tight end Will Dissly was drafted, but the depth still makes the position a strength. Center Coleman Shelton is gone, but his replacement is very experienced at guard, both tackles are four-year starters, and there is a mix of experience and depth to fill the two guard spots adequately. The line should be solid.
Defensive tackle Vita Vea went 12th overall, but the defensive line is used to regrouping after losing top players. The depth and experience remains strong, and a veteran line should be a nightmare for opponents again - especially when they try to run. They lost two linebackers in the sixth round of the draft, but it still shouldn't matter - the bigger issue remains how to find playing time for all of their options than how they are going to field a good group. The team has two three-year starters at safety. At corner they have plenty of options and an excellent group of freshmen who will be pressing for time.
The coaching staff was shuffled around as co-offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith is now head coach at Oregon State, but the moves should have little impact - everyone is familiar to the program and in roles that make sense. No risks were taken in staffing.
Biggest Area of Concern
I'd like to feel a lot better about the receivers than I do. With Browning having such talent and experience, it seems a waste not to have a stronger group running routes for him.
Washington Huskies Schedule Analysis
Here's a crazy stat - Washington has played only three ranked nonconference opponents since 2014, and two of them were in bowl games. They have scheduled truly pathetic nonconference schedules, and it has hurt their perception. They certainly have changed that this year, opening against Auburn on a neutral field, but one in Atlanta that gives the Tigers a significant geographical edge. It's a risk - no team has lost their opener and made the playoff, but a win will raise their profile out of the gate significantly. North Dakota will be easier in the next week, then at Utah will be tougher but manageable. Who knows what Arizona State will be like this year given the Herm Edwards circus. And then BYU, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado and Cal is a stretch that shouldn't challenge too much. They play their season-defining game - at least after that Auburn opener - at home against Stanford then have easier games against Oregon State and at Washington State to finish things out.
2018-19 Washington Huskies Betting Odds and Trends
Washington is in pretty good company, tied with Michigan and Oklahoma as the fifth choice to win the national title at +5000. They are strong favorites to win both their division at -155 and their conference at +105. The season win total sits at 10.5, with the "under" solidly favored. Jake Browning is a fringe Heisman contender at +3300.
2018-19 Washington Huskies Predictions and College Football Picks
I will be truly surprised if the floor isn't 10 wins for this team. It comes down, then, to Auburn and Stanford, and Washington should be the better team in both. At the price I would gamble on the over on the season win total. 11 regular-season wins and a conference title feels right to me.
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