With a 44-6 drubbing of number 7 Stanford, Washington (number 10 before the game) move their undefeated run to open the season past week 5, looking like a legitimate college football playoff contender, something that has seemed improbable for such a long time.
It’s been 16 years since Washington won the Pac-12 and went on to win the 2001 Rose Bowl against Purdue. Maybe it’s too soon to tie these kind of ribbons to Chris Petersen’s team, but beating the previous ‘best team in the conference’ by 35 points tends to generate overreactions. This is the first win for Washington over Stanford after three consecutive losses, and only their second win against The Cardinal since 2008. It’s been that long for them waiting in the shadows for Oregon and Stanford to fall.
There were a lot of ‘first time since’ at Husky Stadium, with over 72,000 in attendance. Stanford haven’t been beaten this badly since a 41-3 loss to Arizona State in 2007. Washington haven’t had that big of a win against a top 10 opponent since beating USC (number 5 at the time) 31-0 in 1990, the year the Huskies shared the national title with Miami. Their previous high for beating a top 10 team was against Wisconsin, beating the Badgers by 36 points.
Washington did a tremendous job of holding a power-offense team like Stanford to just 29 yards on the ground, including another disappointing performance from Christian McCaffrey with 49 yards on 12 carries. McCaffrey wasn’t bad, looking good when he had the ball, but the Huskies did a good job of shutting down everyone else. Stanford turned the ball over twice, and finished with just 213 yards on offense, averaging just 6.8 yards per pass attempt.
The ground game for Washington was working to perfection, rushing for 214 yards, scoring 3 touchdowns, including two for Myles Gaskin, who also ran for 100 yards on 18 attempts. Jake Browning was almost flawless in his performance, completing 15-of-21 passes, throwing for 3 touchdowns and 210 yards. The offense didn’t make any mistakes, and Washington’s defense was as good as one can be, and much better than anyone thought it could be in this game.
A win like this could propel the Huskies into top 5, depending on other results, pushed back from 8 to 10 last week just because they didn’t make a serious impression. Stanford, previously looking like by far the best team in the Pac-12, will fall at least 5-6 spots towards the 15 zone, maybe even closer to 20. For now, with Oregon not looking like a team good enough to put a dent into either team’s challenge, the Huskies look like the team to beat in the North division for the first time in over 15 years.