Micah Rice: Huskies set foot on grand stage

Commentary: Micah Rice

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

Published:

 
photoMicah Rice is The Columbian's Sports Editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, micah.rice@columbian.com or on Twitter @col_mrice.

SEATTLE — The housewarming party started before noon for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Under a cloudless sky, a festival scene filled the parking lots at Husky Stadium. Toasts were made — the cups filled with optimism that opening day of a sports season brings.

But this was no ordinary opener. On the day the Huskies beat Boise State 38-6, the star was a no-longer-humble Dawg house that puts Washington in the same zip code facility-wise as the top programs in the country.

As they emerged from the grandstand tunnels to gaze upon the stadium's splendor, Husky fans were like owners stepping into the foyer of a newly bought mansion.

The grandeur brought gasps, the angles were immaculate and oh the waterfront view.

But like any house, when the newness fades, all the trimmings mean nothing if the foundation is faulty.

And in this cul-de-sac nestled in a neighborhood known as high-stakes college football, the foundation is laid on the field.

And that is where we'll see if this is truly a home in the hearts of Husky fans.

Those fans expect UW to win. Now.

There are kids about to start the fourth grade who weren't alive the last time Washington beat Oregon. The monarchs of Montlake are fed up with being a distant province in the Pac-12 kingdom.

Now they have their castle — designed to be a foreboding lakeside fortress to opponents and a purple paradise for Husky fans.

It's not as if Washington has been horrible at home. Coach Steve Sarkisian is 19-7 in four years of home games. But the road is brutal in the Pac-12, so even one or two home losses can derail hopes for a conference championship.

The official pomp and ceremony were somewhat muted prior to kickoff. Construction workers and a dozen former players were acknowledged.

The UW players grasped the gravity of Saturday.

Walking across the field after departing the team bus, several dozen gathered on the "W" at midfield. Arms were placed around shoulder for an impromptu blessing at the place where this team's legacy will be crafted.

Join the nation's elite, and they'll be knighted.

Another average season, and "Seven-win Sark" might be banished.

Whatever happens, this is likely to be one of the more dramatic UW seasons in years.

And that drama will play out on one of the grandest stages in college football.

Micah Rice is The Columbian's Sports Editor. Reach him at 360-735-4548, micah.rice@columbian.com or on Twitter @col_mrice. Read his blog, Tailgate Talk, at http://blogs.columbian.com/tailgate-talk.