Avinash: Maybe. Washington might be very good (their defense will almost certainly be the best in the conference), but to be playoff contenders they have to beat probably all but one of Stanford, Oregon, USC, Utah, and Wazzu. Color me skeptical.
However, their defense is going to be truly special. The Huskies had a top five national defense last year, and almost everyone is back (including our old DC Bob Gregory, who is making a killing with those linebackers). It's going to be exceptionally hard to score points on them. I can see Washington holding a ton of their foes to under 20 points, even the best offenses they play. They are going to be very tough to score against.
This will really test how high Cal's ceiling is with the Bear Raid. Can they put up the points on an elite defense and best them? Cal's offense has racked up points against teams with average to subpar defense but have generally been stifled otherwise, and Washington is the biggest test. Washington's offense won't be their strength, but against our defense they can totally manage 20 points with Myles Gaskin dictating the attack.
I have a bad feeling about this game. What do you all think? Do you buy Washington the title contender?
Vincent S: I honestly don't know where this "playoff contender" stuff came from. Sure, Washington had a great defense last year. Sure, their coaching pedigree is top-notch. But I'm not seeing the (admittedly improving from age/experience alone) Washington offense taking them to the level where they're suddenly competing with the Ducks/Trees (in-conference), or Buckeyes/Crimson Tide/Tigers (out-of-conference).
Andy Johnston: I somewhat take a small piece of the responsibility for encouraging and building off the preseason hype. Add Tedford as a consultant and you have a very interesting team up in Seattle. I actually think Washington will disappoint against lofty standards. Nick covered this earlier but Jake Browning at times last year looked impressive and downright terrible. I still think Chris Petersen has another step to take before deserving the #namhype.
Cal has to beat Washington in memorial for Sonny and crew to take this team to heights beyond last season. It will be a tough matchup but one that should be winnable for the Bears.
boomtho: I definitely don't buy the buzz of them being playoff contenders. I certainly think they're in the mix to win the North, but I expect the North winner to finish with 2+ losses this year so I wouldn't think they'd be strong playoff contenders. The defensive pieces are probably there, but I don't think the offense will be good enough (yet).
Ruey Yen: In a wide open Pac-12 North, I guess someone has to be the favorite...which would put them a championship win away from a major bowl, maybe even the playoffs. I am not exactly sure why Washington earned that buzz, other than that folks are tired of picking Oregon or Stanford to screw up a playoff run again. With that said, Washington is rightfully favored over Cal. I can see how by the time that Cal and Washington meets on November 5th, Washington may have already took control of the North with wins over Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford. With USC looming the following week, Cal can be that overlooked letdown game for UW.
Nik Jam: I think it'll be a winnable game for Cal, and one they will probably need to get to six. Washington will be a tough team to beat for sure, and I think they will be in the Pac-12 North race, but I don't see how it's a likely loss.