With Stanford and Oregon in the same division, Washington probably isn't going to contend for the Pac-12 title. But after knocking off the Cardinal in 2012, can it become something more than a barely-above-.500 squad with a bowl loss?
Few teams return more starters than Washington, as the Huskies bring back their three key offensive cogs -- quarterback Keith Price, running back Bishop Sankey and potential All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- and seven starters from a defense that allowed just 24.2 points per game last year. Steve Sarkisian's offensive and defensive coordinators Eric Kiesau and Justin Wilcox are now in their second years with the Huskies, and that additional time -- and experience with the team -- could yield a more successful season.
2013 Washington schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
Washington gets started with a tough matchup right off the bat with a home game against Boise State. The Broncos are actually the last opponent the Huskies played, and they lost 28-26 on a late Boise State field goal in the Las Vegas Bowl. They seek their revenge to start off the year in what should be one of the marquee matchups of Week 1 -- and one of the toughest games the Huskies will play all year.
The Huskies made the bold move of scheduling a road game against a BCS conference opponent despite only having three non-conference games with the nine-game Pac-12 slate. However, it turns out not to be much of a toughie, as the Huskies should trounce Illinois in a game that should have a decent atmosphere at Soldier Field.
The brutal thing here is back-to-back games against Stanford and Oregon, the cream of the crop in the Pac-12, but those are just divisional opponents for Washington. The Huskies made the most of it with a win over Stanford last season, but that's a loss the Cardinal have probably been stewing over ever since. On the plus side, the Huskies play five conference home games against four conference road games.
Washington plays a pair of feature Friday games, first a Nov. 15 game in the Rose Bowl against UCLA, then the Apple Cup on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Washington will try to get back at the Cougars after Mike Leach's squad handed them an overtime defeat last season, the only Pac-12 game WSU won all year.