Anthony Cassino of UW Dawg Pound joins us this week to preview this week's matchup with Washington in Chicago.
1. The Huskies are coming into the game after a bye week. They handled Boise State easily week one and now are coming to Chicago ranked 19th. How good are the Huskies?
It's tough to draw any big sweeping conclusions based on just one game, but in that one game the Huskies looked better than they have in a long time. It was probably the first game in over a decade where they dominated a quality opponent in every phase of the game. The ceiling for this team is really high now that the stud recruits that Steve Sarkisian has signed are entering their junior and senior years, and I think the team is definitely deserving of their ranking at this point.
2. What should Illini fans expect from the Huskies and which players should we keep an eye out for?
Offensively, the skill positions are loaded on this team. To name a couple of less talked about guys: John Ross and Jaydon Mickens are two quick and shifty slot receivers who cut up Boise State's secondary on short passes in week one. Bishop Sankey might be the offense's best player -- though he gets talked about a lot less than guys like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Keith Price and Kasen Williams -- and is quickly becoming on of the top running backs in the country.
On defense, Shaq Thompson is an All America candidate as the team's do-everything linebacker, Danny Shelton is a 330 pound load anchoring the defense, and Marcus Peters is the team's shutdown corner.
3. I write for SB Nation's site for the St. Louis Rams, Turf Show Times, so I follow the NFL draft closely. Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been on my radar for a while. I think he has a chance to be an elite player in the NFL. You watch him every game, what are your thought on ASJ? As an NFL GM, how concerned would you be about his off the field issues?
After watching his sophomore and freshmen years there is no question in my mind that he's the top tight end in the country. He was every bit as good as a sophomore as the studs that Stanford trotted out, and he was playing most of last season on a bum ankle. There are very few college defenders that have the skills to defend him without help, and even then nobody has ever really shut him down.
The off the field stuff wouldn't worry me too much. By all accounts he's been a model student athlete otherwise, and the DUI appears to be a one-time incident. He handled the fallout about as well as one could, and I wouldn't it to become a pattern.
4. Realistically, how do you think Washington stacks up in the Pac-12? Division Rivals Oregon and Stanford look to be locks for the top two in the North. Can the Huskies challenge?
That's the question that Husky fans want to see answered. This is the best Husky team in a long time, and I'm not sure you can say the same about Stanford or Oregon. The Dawgs are definitely closing the gap.
The Huskies can for sure compete with Stanford, as they proved last season when they beat the tree. The big test will be Oregon, as the Huskies struggled in 2012 dealing with spread offenses and have lost to the Ducks in each of their last 9 meetings.
5. This game is billed as the "Chicago Homecoming" for Illinois. The game will be played at a neutral site in Soldier Field, and on that terrible grass field. Do you think the game being played in Chicago will help or hurt Washington in any way? Obviously Champaign is a lot closer to Chicago, but neither team has played in the stadium.
The problem for the Huskies playing in Chicago will be the same as it would be if they were playing the game in Champaign: the Huskies just haven't been that good of a road team. They've been dominant at home the past couple of years, but have had a tough time putting it together away from Seattle. The conventional wisdom is that grass slows the game down a bit, so that may hurt the Huskies more than the Illini as UW appears to be the faster of the two teams.
6. Prediction for the game.
I think that both teams will put up some points, but ultimately I don't think the Illini have the speed and talent outside defensively to keep up with the Husky weapons and in the end UW runs away with it, something like 41-21.
Thanks to Anthony again.