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Best case-worst case: Washington

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Second in a series looking at potential dream and nightmare scenarios for all Pac-10 teams, starting at the bottom and working up from my vote in the Pac-10 media poll.

Up next: Washington

Best case

No one could recall a losing effort receiving a standing ovation at Husky Stadium, but that's exactly what happened just moments after Washington quarterback Jake Locker's fourth-down toss into the end zone was knocked away by LSU safety Chad Jones.

"If that's a team coming off an 0-12 season," Tigers coach Les Miles said. "Well ... I'm impressed. That Locker is a heck of a player."

Locker, in his debut running a pro-style offense, completed 21 of 28 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in the Huskies' 24-20 defeat.

The Huskies' 15-game losing streak then ended with an exclamation point a week later after a 48-10 win over Idaho. The Huskies' defense can't handle USC's dominating offensive line the following weekend in a 40-21 loss, but an upset victory at Stanford gives the program its first conference win since 2007.

Washington, brimming with new-found confidence, then blows a 10-point fourth-quarter lead at Notre Dame. "This team is still learning to win," first-year coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Lesson learned during an upset win over Arizona. And forgotten after a poor effort at Arizona State.

Still, 72,000-plus packed Husky Stadium when No. 12 Oregon came to Seattle the following weekend. The Ducks had pounded the Huskies of late in what formerly was the Pac-10's most bitter rivalry, winning five in a row by a decisive margin.

But the Ducks, coming off a bye week, start slowly, allowing the crowd to whip itself into a froth. That froth bubbles over when Erik Folk boots a 54-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining, giving the Huskies a 38-37 victory.

On his way down to the field afterwards, a Pac-10 blogger breaks his tailbone when the concrete stadium steps crumble beneath him. Loyal blog readers Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Jeff Bezos express mutual chagrin in a statement and offer $350 million for a stadium renovation.

The Huskies then split a pair of road games, beating the UCLA Rick Neuheisels but losing at Oregon State.

A 45-35 triumph in the Apple Cup gives the Huskies a sixth victory, earning them bowl eligibility. A blowout loss to No. 2 California and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Jahvid Best is softened by an invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl, where the Huskies beat Utah 31-24, completing one of the biggest turnarounds in FBS history.

Worst case

The Steve Sarkisian Era begins with a thud when LSU pummels physically overmatched Washington, 38-10. Locker rushes for 88 yards, but he only completes 10 of 24 passes with two interceptions. He doesn't seem comfortable managing the Huskies' new pro-style offense.

The Huskies end their 15-game losing streak with a win over hapless Idaho the following weekend, but they promptly begin another streak with four consecutive defeats to USC, Stanford, Notre Dame and Arizona.

An upset win at Arizona State insures the Huskies won't go winless in the conference, but a blowout defeat at home to Oregon and road losses at UCLA and Oregon State leave Washington reeling.

Still, an Apple Cup win over Washington State would mean the Huskies avoided finishing last in the conference for a third consecutive season.

But five turnovers doom the Huskies, who lose their fifth Apple Cup in the past six seasons.

The season mercifully ends with a blowout loss to California in front of just 50,000 fans at Husky Stadium. Two wins are much better than zero, but it falls well short of the expectations of a frustrated fan base.

And quarterback Nick Montana decommits.