| March 24, 2018

Column: Born and Bred Pac-12

September 6, 2016

As a freshman who always looked forward to the excitement of college football, this season will  be an engaging one that tests my allegiances.

Growing up in a Pac-12 town, I have only ever known and followed Pac-12 and Power 5 conference teams. I grew up in an Oregon household and have always considered myself a die-hard Washington fan.

In a way, I feel as if I grew up with both teams. These teams made an appearance on my living room TV every Saturday in the fall. As I changed over the years these two teams do the same.

Spring of 2016 came and a new team entered the picture: the Idaho Vandals. Before this, I had never been to Idaho and within weeks of my first visit to the state, I had committed to spend my next four years here. To me, this meant not only committing to the school but to all the pieces that come with it, including the football program.

Everyone talks about the team with slight disappointment in regards to their most recent years. However, they quickly follow it with, “But this is the year they will turn it around!” or “But they are on the path for a winning season this year!”

The Vandals come into the season with high hopes for a strong year after several losing seasons, finishing 4-8 in the 2015 season. In their final season in the Sunbelt Conference, the Vandals are looking to junior quarterback Matt Linehan to lead the way to a winning season.

While my hopes are high for my new team, but it still feels near impossible to let go of the teams I grew up with, especially when they too are poised for a successful 2016 season.

Washington came into the year with a No. 14 spot in the AP Top 25. This is the first time the Huskies begin the year in the ranks, since they were placed at No. 25 in 2014 only to be dropped the following week.

While the Husky defense has been the anchor of the team recently, this year puts the pressure on a young offensive team led by sophomore quarterback Jake Browning. Browning had 16 touchdowns and a 63 percent completion rate at the end of his freshman year. He continued to improve throughout the season, adding depth to the weaker offensive team.

Browning started the 2015 season with a loss to Boise State and a lower completion percentage of 58 percent, with no touchdowns. Browning turned it around at the end of the season, with a win in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl with 67 percent completion. I hope to see him continue this progression and strengthen the Washington offense.

The 2016 football season brings hope and excitement to Pac-12 fans near and far. I am anxiously  awaiting the season, and trying not to think about the Sept. 10 game that will pit Washington State and Idaho against each other.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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