Sure, it’s July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last year’s CFP semifinalists were ranked Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 17 on our 2016 list.
Today’s team: No. 8 Washington (Related coverage: Two top quarterbacks puts Huskies’ recruiting class in rare territory)
Best-case scenario: The Huskies make a return trip to the College Football Playoff behind quarterback Jake Browning, the 2016 Pac-12 offensive player of the year, and arguably the best running back duo in college football — Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.
Worst-case scenario: Browning, who had shoulder surgery during the offseason, struggles to return to form after throwing for 3,430 yards a year ago, and Washington becomes a Pac-12 also-ran again.
The key game: Nov. 10, at Stanford. Most of Washington’s critical Pac-12 contests are at home, but this game in Palo Alto could be a troublesome matchup.
INSIDE THE HUSKIES
Coach: Chris Petersen (fourth year, 27-14; 119-26 overall at Boise State and Washington)
2016: 12-2, 8-1 in the Pac-12 (lost to Alabama 24-7 in CFP semifinals)
Returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense
Goodbye: WR John Ross (Bengals, 1st round); S Bubba Baker (Cardinals, 2nd round); CB Sidney Jones (Eagles, 2nd round); CB Kevin King (Packers, 2nd round)
Spring cleaning: Washington welcomes two new position coaches after the departures of receivers coach Bush Hamden and offensive line coach Chris Strausser, who joined NFL staffs. … Petersen’s prize recruits were four-star athlete Salvon Ahmed (6-0, 185 pounds) and four-star TE Hunter Bryant (6-2, 238). Both grew up in the Seattle area.
Passing: Jake Browning, 243-391-3,430, 43/9
Rushing: Myles Gaskin, 237-1,373-10 (1st); Lavon Coleman, 114-852-7 (2nd)
Receiving: Dante Pettis, 53-822-15 (2nd)
Tackles: LB Keishawn Bierria, 70 (2nd); LB Azeem Victor, 67 (T-3rd); DB Jojo McIntosh, 67 (T-3rd)
Sacks: DL Vita Vea, 5 (T-2nd)
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS (11)
Offense: QB Jake Browning (offensive player of the year), RB Myles Gaskin (1st team), OL Trey Adams (1st), OL Coleman Shelton (2nd), RS Dante Pettis (2nd), TE Drew Sample (hon. men.)
Defense: DB Taylor Rapp (freshman defensive player of the year), LB Azeem Victor (1st), DL Vita Vea (2nd), LB Keishawn Bierria (2nd), DL Greg Gaines (hon. men.)
Bring on the Trojans: The Huskies’ regular-season schedule has one glaring omission, but USC likely will be waiting in the Pac-12 championship game come December. Washington gets a slew of conference games in Seattle, including one against rival Oregon. The Huskies defeated the Ducks in Eugene last year, their first victory over Oregon in 13 years.
Powered by the run: Washington will rely heavily on its running game, and with good reason. Gaskin, a Doak Walker Award candidate, ranked third in the conference in rushing yards and seventh in rushing touchdowns. Coleman, whose 852 yards ranked him seventh in the Pac-12 in 2016, complements Gaskin and gives the Huskies a formidable 1-2 backfield punch. With Ross leaving early for the NFL, the duo may need to carry the load early in the season as the new receivers settle into the offense.
A new-look secondary: The secondary was wiped clean with the exception of Rapp, who led the team with four interceptions as a freshman. He’s a potential All-American, but the Huskies will miss Baker, Jones and King. The foursome formed arguably one of the top secondaries in college football. DT Vita Vea (6-5, 334) was a projected second-round pick but decided to stay in school. He and DT Greg Gaines (6-2, 321) provide a solid wall to stop the run. Washington also returns three starting linebackers.
|DATE||OPPONENT||LAST YR'S RESULT (IF PLAYED)|
|Sept. 1||at Rutgers||W, 48-13|
|Sept. 16||Fresno State|
|Sept. 23||at Colorado*||W, 41-10|
|Sept. 30||at Oregon State*||W, 41-17|
|Oct. 7||Cal*||W, 66-27|
|Oct. 14||at Arizona State*||W, 44-18|
|Nov. 4||Oregon*||W, 70-21|
|Nov. 10||at Stanford*||W, 70-21|
|Nov. 18||Utah*||W, 31-24|
|Nov. 25||Washington State*||W, 45-17|
|* Pac-12 game|
The last 5 years
|YEAR||W-L (CONF.)||RANKING||BOWL GAME|
|TOTAL||43-24 (26-19)||1-4 in bowls|
|2012||7-6 (5-4)||NR/NR||L Las Vegas|
|2013||9-4 (5-4)||NR/25th||W Fight Hunger|
|2014||8-6 (4-5)||25th/NR||L Cactus|
|2015||7-6 (4-5)||NR/NR||L Heart of Texas|
|2016||12-2 (8-1)||14th/4th||L CFP semifinal|
Note: Ranks are that year’s preseason/final ranking
2016 NATIONAL STAT RANKS
Scoring: 8th (41.8 ppg)
Points allowed: 8th (17.7 ppg)
Passing: 41st (258.8 ypg)
Rushing: 44th (198.1 ypg)
Total off.: 32nd (456.9 ypg)
Total def.: 12th (316.9 ypg)
OUR TOP 25 SO FAR
No. 25: Boise State
No. 24: Oregon
No. 23: Tennessee
No. 22: Texas
No. 21: Kansas State
No. 20: Miami
No. 19: West Virginia
No. 18: South Florida
No. 17: Florida
No. 16: Stanford
No. 15: Louisville
No. 14: Georgia
No. 13: Wisconsin
No. 12: LSU
No. 11: Auburn
No. 10: Michigan
No. 9: Oklahoma State
No. 8: Washington
No. 7: Coming Sunday. Want a hint? This school can claim Darrell Royal as a former quarterback and Mack Brown as a former offensive coordinator.
SEC (11-Auburn, 12-LSU, 14-Georgia, 17-Florida, 23-Tennessee)
Big 12 (9-Oklahoma State, 19-West Virginia, 21-Kansas State, 22-Texas)
Pac-12 (8-Washington, 16-Stanford, 24-Oregon)
ACC (15-Louisville, 20-Miami)
Big Ten (10-Michigan, 13-Wisconsin)
Pac-12 (16-Stanford, 24-Oregon)
AAC (18-South Florida)
Mountain West (25-Boise State)
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