Washington Huskies’ promised land is right around the corner

We’ve spent all year trying to figure out who this Washington team was.

After a mind numbing loss to BYU in the opener we were all of a sudden questioning the heart of our Heisman contending quarterback.

After a humbling loss to Nebraska, we were wondering if this team was any good.

After a last second victory against USC all of a sudden our hope was renewed, and we developed a trend with our Cardiac dawgs.

After a thrilling OT win against Oregon State the trend continued. Maybe, just maybe, we were comfortable with our Huskies.

After three blowout losses in a row to the top three teams in the Conference we were once again humbled and threw into panic mode. Locker was hurt and the Huskies were put in an almost impossible predicament. Win out or go home.

But now eleven games in the Huskies are one game away from the goal set forth when we started this thing back in September. They have very nearly completed the impossible predicament they put themselves in.

With a win over the Washington State Cougars next week there will be absolutely no questioning what this Husky team is, there will be no more searching for answers, it will be right there in front of us.

This Husky team will be a bowl team.

This is it. This is what Sarkisian promised when he took to the podium after being hired in late 2008. Now the coach who took over an 0-12 mess of a football team that had won 11 games in their four years under Tyrone Willingham, can now deliver 11 wins in the first two of his tenure.

It’s only fitting that he did it in a manner that probably made him a little antsy and uncomfortable. Despite being from the Pete Carroll mold of taking chances and being a little ballsy, we all know that Sarkisian can be, at times, conservative to a fault.

You can go back to last year in Notre Dame when the Huskies were on the goal line with an opportunity to ice the game with a touchdown, he elected for a field goal instead. Notre Dame came back to win the football game. You can point out his continued reluctance to take full advantage of his mobile quarterback at times being stubborn with the strict passing game. You can even go back to when USC fans wanted him gone because they missed the big play days of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

Not today. This Husky football program had enough, and Sark knew it. He stood in front of the Husky faithful at the Don James center almost two years ago and told them that what drew him to this job was the tradition and history. He said that it was 2008, and it was time to get back to what Husky football is all about, Rose Bowls and national championships.

The first step to that is a bowl game – just any bowl game – and if Washington can’t get one yard when it matters most, then Washington doesn’t deserve to go bowling.

So he went for it. He put it on the line and went for it all.

On one play Sarkisian tested not only the grit, but the desire of his players. Of an offensive line that struggled all game, and all season long.

On one play the right side parted like the Red Sea as Chris Polk coasted into the end zone at the end of the game to clinch a Washington victory.

4th and goal at the one. If Washington would have failed to convert they would have missed a bowl game for an eighth consecutive season. Instead, the conversion kept the dream alive.

Now, it’s also only fitting that the dream can be culminated in Pullman, Washington. After all, the last regular season victory that preceded a Husky bowl appearance was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the rivalry, when UW defeated Washington State in triple OT thriller.

More comparably, the Huskies defeated Washington State at Husky stadium in 2003 to attain a 6-6 record during Keith Gilbertson’s first year as head man at UW. But the Huskies were left out.

But the Cougars would love nothing more to end Washington’s dream. After all, it would be pay back. In 2006 a Huskies’ 35-32 upset left the Cougars at 6-6, and they missed out on post-season festivities because of it.

But this year 6-6 is good enough, not only for a bowl but most likely a bowl of the calibur of the Holiday or Sun. The Pac-10 has been that wide open this year that that’s all the Huskies need. Just .500.

But this won’t be the same Cougar team that lost by 30 at Husky stadium either. This is a Cougar team coming off a 17 point victory on the road at Reeser Stadium and has now had three weeks to prepare for the Huskies. This has been a more competitive Cougar team all year.

Will the Huskies be able to handle their emotions of both the last game and what is in store for them with a victory?

Let’s see what you got Sarkisian. This is why you are here. The dream is right around the corner, let’s finish it in Pullman.